Heritage Alumni Elizabeth Teel recently completed the Master Certification Program at Heritage Seattle and now works full-time as a designer for Keri Petersen of KP Spaces! We interviewed her to learn more about how she made the decision to change careers and pursue interior design!
1. Tell us about your background and career path prior to Heritage
I was born and raised in the Boston area, and grew up in a 1800’s fixer-upper farmhouse. Throughout my childhood, my parents worked slowly but surely to update and improve the house themselves, always letting me lend a hand – whether it was picking out paint colors or tearing out carpeting to reveal the original hardwood floors. This experience definitely sparked my love for old buildings and interior design, even before I recognized it!
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Communication and spent the last 6 years in the public relations and marketing industry. After landing a couple of “dream” marketing jobs, but still not feeling fulfilled, I began to realize that I ultimately needed to follow my passion for creativity. Little did I know, I would soon be finding that creative career after my husband and I relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in 2019. This move gave me the chance to re-evaluate my career direction, and quickly led me to Heritage!
2. What inspired you to pursue an education in Interior Design?
I’ve always been drawn to visual arts, creative expression and creating beautiful spaces. Since I was young, I knew I wanted to channel that into my career, but never knew the right path to take. I considered pursuing an art degree after high school, but I was afraid it wouldn’t be “practical” enough.
About a decade later, I was in the middle of a career crossroads and not sure which path to take. I spoke on the phone with my mom and my best friend in the same week, seeking advice. They both encouraged me to pursue interior design – something I had never considered before. Coming from two wise women, who know me better than I know myself, their advice clicked and suddenly it was a no-brainer! Interior design is the marriage of form and function – beauty and practicality; two things I wanted for my career, but didn’t know how to combine. From there, I found Heritage and the rest is history!
3. What was it like to make such a big career change?
Initially, it was very difficult for me to wrap my head around making a complete career switch. When I discovered Heritage, I was several years into a successful marketing career with a steady salary. I was hesitant to go back to school because of the financial uncertainty of leaving a secure job and not knowing what to expect. I was definitely nervous to take the leap.
Throughout my time at Heritage, I continued to work part-time while taking classes, and also interned for an interior designer during my last term. Juggling school, work and an internship was definitely a challenge for me! But it completely paid off. I would do it all over again if I had to!
4. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve received was from Robert Cipollone, the Commercial Design instructor at Heritage in Seattle. He constantly encouraged us students to:
Be curious, share and collaborate with other designers, and always be learning throughout your careers.”
At the end of every class, he would thank us students for teaching him something during class. This open, curious and humble spirit will definitely stick with me throughout my career. Just because school has ended, the learning never stops!
5. What is your current position in the design industry?
I am thrilled to be working full-time for Keri Petersen of KP Spaces! I interned at KP Spaces while finishing up my last term of classes at Heritage. During my internship, Keri allowed me to get hands-on experience in every facet of her client projects; from drafting floor plans and elevations, to materials selection, space planning, presenting at client meetings, designing built-ins and more. She is not only an incredible boss, but also an amazing mentor who is enthusiastic about teaching me and helping me grow as a designer.
When I first began at Heritage, I never dreamed I would be able to land this job right after graduating! I am so grateful to Heritage for introducing me to Keri and for teaching me the skills I needed to launch my interior design career.
6. What is your future career goal as a designer?
In several years, I hope to start my own interior design business, designing residential and boutique commercial spaces. In the meantime, my goal is to gain experience in the industry and grow with the designer I currently work for – the amazing Keri Petersen of KP Spaces. I am enthusiastic about learning, growing and collaborating during this period of my career as a new designer.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Elizabeth! Continue following Elizabeth’s journey by following her on instagram @elizabethteeldesign!