Janis Howard has been part of Heritage School of Interior Design for 15 years. She is a true blessing to the staff, students and culture of the school. Janis is a Heritage grad herself, and now a wonderful instructor for the Saturday Fundamentals Course.
Janis grew up in Eastern Oregon in a 900 ft2 house built by her father. She shared a room with her sister which is when she first realized she had a knack for design. “My side looked so cute all the time. I loved lavenders and pinks and flower colors.” She remembers a beautiful lilac bush outside of her window, which propelled her into her ongoing love and appreciation for color.
Later Janis met her husband Alan who worked graveyard shift at Pendleton Woolen Mills while going to college to get his Masters Degree. During this time Janis entered the banking world and worked her way up from a teller to a service manager and finally a trainer. Even while she was in banking her natural talent and love for design was so apparent. “One time I suggested that we repaint the filing cabinets a new color. I told them we need a dusty blue. And it actually happened!”
When she left banking it was because she had to pursue her passion. She kept telling her husband she was too scared to change course and he finally asked her, “So are you not going to do this and regret it in 10 years? Or are you going to give it a whirl and if all else fails you can go back to the bank.” By coincidence, Janis saw Heritage School of Interior Design one day while she was driving up Greenburg Road in Tigard, which is where the school was first located. She contacted the school right away and it immediately got her energy up and made her feel hopeful that she could actually have a career as an interior designer.
After completing the Heritage program, Janis began working at Ripley’s Furniture, which was an extremely valuable experience and she adores the Ripley family to this day. “The beauty of it was that I got to be involved in the behind the scenes part of a business – ordering, speaking with merchandisers and vendors, and working with all different kinds of people. That was really profound for me. I loved every minute of it.” Three years into her career at Ripley’s she was asked to teach the night classes at Heritage on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. During this time she also started her own design business, which was a wonderful compliment to her position at Ripley’s and the at the school.
Along with her design skills, Janis is also a very gifted instructor and loves teaching. “Students motivate me and the material energizes me. Every class has a personality and I love the variety.” Many changes have occurred in the past year since Stephanie purchased Heritage and Janis has adapted incredibly well. “Everything has changed. The material has changed, the attitude has changed, the open-mindedness has changed, the presence in Portland changes everyday in a such a good way. Stephanie fascinates me. She gives me latitude. I love that the school is ever changing, growing and staying current.”
Janis has an amazing ability to encourage and inspire. “My job as an instructor is to instill confidence in the students because many of them don’t have it when they first come to school.” Recent graduate Debbie Barry stated that on the first day of school Janis told everyone, “You are all designers now, you have to start thinking about yourselves as designers,” and it brought tears to her eyes. Janis also told her students to believe in themselves because she believes in each of them. “As an expert, if Janis believes in me then what is stopping me from believing in myself?” Debbie stated.
If you are considering attending Heritage, Janis recommends that you read through the website, talk to Stephanie and also talk to a recent graduate who can fill you in on what it’s like to be a student going through the program. Janis believes that, “Heritage really helps to prepare and propel people into the design world. It is your ticket into the design industry!”