By Bradley Robertson
For the Opelika Observer
In the polished and pretty Southern culture, if someone sticks out, they get seen. That’s not tough in this little neck of Lee County. It is a snow globe of all things lovely, delightful and good.
Who remembers the movie “Pleasantville” starring Reese Witherspoon and a young Ewan McGregor? In the movie, the two stars fall into a black-and-white TV with a perfect town setting. Slowly, as the screenplay progresses, the black and white begins to disappear and color and soulful life are added in.
The last few years, this community has started transforming into a space a little more colorful.
This area has always been alive and active. It’s the joy that attracts visitors and new people every year, but the progress and open posture is moving forward. There is design and excitement and creativity everywhere. I feel the enthusiasm and hear new ideas and see business budding. We are caring for our space and helping it to grow.
And there is one fantastic, full of color lady leading the way, Amy Cotney. She is all things bright and beautiful. She is candid and full of spunk. Her energy is contagious, and she doesn’t meet a stranger.
Above all, she loves her village with everything in her tiny being. Auburn is her home and she will do whatever it takes to make it home for someone else too.
“I’m very lucky to be me,” Cotney said. “I don’t know how to be anyone else.”
I sat down with her in her bright, modern style home in the heart of Auburn near the local Kroger.
Cotney is known in our neck of the woods as the “Rogue Realtor,” although she has only been in this career for slightly more than four years.
“I’ve always been in sales. I’ve sold cosmetics. I’ve sold architecture supplies. I had a skirt business a while back called ‘Put Your Game On.’ We made collegiate skirts out of tee shirts and we ended up working with 18 different universities,” Cotney said. “I grew that into a really big business, until collegiate licensing shut me down. I even was a Flight Attendant once, but I’m more of a scheduled person so that didn’t work too well.”
She decided on real estate after the recommendation of her father. “My dad said I should either sell high-end cars or real estate. I knew Auburn wasn’t the fit for fancy cars, so I decided to go for real estate,” Cotney said.
Cotney is seen all over Lee County popping in and out of listings, and she has taken to the world of social media, creating something new and lively for the real estate market. She is indeed rogue, paving new paths for local entrepreneurs and having every bit of fun along the way.
“Someone called me rogue and I just went with it. It actually has a negative meaning but I saw it as more of a positive. Rogue is like not being vanilla. There are over 600 realtors in the Lee County area, so I knew I had to do something different. I know nothing else but to be me, and me being me is rogue to everybody else.”
“At one of my first listing appointments, someone asked me why I was wearing “hole-y” jeans. I remember thinking, ‘there are no other jeans.’ I was not going to wear a nametag and I wasn’t going to wear high heel shoes. I’m not doing any of that. I am me. That’s how my rogue thing took off. I do things a lot differently than everyone else does. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened that way,” Cotney added.
Cotney is not one to skimp on honesty or creativity. She values happiness as well as using your own gifts and abilities to get the job done.
“I love marketing homes and I do it really well. And honestly form the beginning I just didn’t know any better. I put the very conservative real estate world into a loop… I wasn’t breaking any rules, but I was doing something that not anyone had ever done before. I did not even think about it, I was just trying to get my name out there and it worked. I’m going to have fun, because if I don’t then I’m not creative. And that’s important to me even in real estate,” Cotney said.
She has become a leading fixture in our community mostly due to social media. She has used it to its greatest advantage and has grown a brand and a name for herself among the locals.
“I have a really big passion for the power of social media. Powerful in a good way and a bad way, but I follow the good way. I love giving a shout out to other entrepreneurs and I love helping people. What comes around, goes around. I want to show people that you can be a good business person but still be charismatic.”
Cotney is seen by her peers in real estate as a branding and marketing expert. She attends speaking events in our home state of Alabama but has traveled as far as Idaho, leading others into the savvy world of social media marketing.
On the flip side, Cotney was quick to tell me that she is not driven by the American dollar.
“I’m driven by making a little bit of a difference in the world. I want to let people know you don’t have to be in a box. You can be your authentic self. That’s real important to me. You’re not a tree, you can move. You can be whatever you want to be, creating different and new things. I always think, what can I do to make a difference? I want to make a dent and leave a legacy,” Cotney said.
Cotney also points out that it hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns for her.
“I’ve had not so good places too, but that has allowed me to relate to a bunch of different types of people. I see parts of my past as ways to understand people that I would not have otherwise. I’m very open minded, that’s how I was raised. I always try to say something nice to someone and remind other people they’re doing great too.”
At the end of the day, it is the personal experience by the home buyer or seller that truly makes Cotney’s work come full circle.
“My happy in real estate is helping that person find that perfect fit home. Helping families buy or sell, whatever their need is and making it as easy as I can… It’s community and if you give back to your community, they’re going to give back to you. That’s a win. I feel lucky to be here, to have this job every day, that I love,” Cotney said.