Ann Somers had retired as an architect with Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons in March 2018 and was looking for a change in her life and a way to do something different for the Jackson community. She decided to use her lifelong love of animals and experience as an animal-rescue volunteer to open combination pet store and adoption center Chipper & Coco at The District at Eastover.
The store helps support Community Animal Rescue & Adoption, or CARA, a no-kill animal shelter in Jackson that Somers has been involved with since 2006.
"I've always loved animals and wanted to help contribute to CARA any way I could," Somers says. "The plan was to run Chipper & Coco like a pet-adoption satellite location that could also sustain itself as a store and help fund CARA as well."
She runs Chipper & Coco together with her husband, Bob Potesky. The store takes its name from two of Somers' and Potesky's former pets, a golden retriever named Chipper and a Persian-mix cat named Coco. Somers received Chipper as a puppy from friend Kendall Poole, who is a board member for CARA.
Somers says she decided to join the organization as a board member at Poole's request because Poole felt Somers' skills as an architect could potentially be useful to the shelter.
Coco was also a gift from a friend whose cat had kittens. Coco died in 2004, while Chipper died in May 2018.
"Every so often there's an animal that you just connect with right away, and that's exactly how it was with Chipper and Coco," Somers says. "I wanted to get involved with CARA because they hold so many events to help cats and dogs get adopted, and any time I went I could get along with every cat and dog there."
Somers was born in Byram and graduated from Byram High School before enrolling at Mississippi State University School of Architecture, where she received a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1981.
After graduating, she moved to Jackson and worked for one year at the Canizaro Trigiani architectural firm as an intern architect. In 1984, she moved to New York City and took a job with architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. She then moved to Savannah, Ga., and spent a year working for the Sprigs and Associates firm. Somers returned to Jackson in 1987 and worked for Ken Tate Architects until 1988, when she joined Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons. She became a partner with the firm around 2001.
For more information on Chipper and Coco, visit chipperandcoco.com.