I spent 25 years in financing and handled thousands of home closings during that time. Although I loved my job and working with people who were excited to move into their new homes I really longed to be somewhere creating beautiful spaces instead of behind a desk. In 2001 the office I had been with for years closed. It seemed like the perfect time to transition to something I really longed to do. I heard about Heritage School of Design from a friend and I called and signed up for the 2002 spring term which would begin in April.
My husband and I have been blessed with a large blended family of 7 children and eventually 13 grandchildren. In Feb of 2002 just before I was to start school at Heritage our daughter gave birth to a baby girl with very unique circumstances, completely unexpected. She was born with Apert Syndrome, a very rare condition that most doctors have never even heard of. This was a life changing moment for our entire family. With so many surgeries and medical treatments ahead for little Poppy it was not the time for me to go back to schoolbecause I was needed in a more important place. Poppy is pure joy to our family but she faces so many uphill battles and for the past four years we have spent much of our time in hospitals and doctor appointments and also doing fundraisers to help with her medical needs. Although there are surgeries and treatments ahead, this past year has been a good one for Poppy.
My husband was the kindest and most encouraging man I have ever known. He was an entrepreneur and owned a recycling company for many years. In addition to the recycling company we bought an existing coffee shop in the Hollywood District in 2008. We redesigned it and renamed it Jazzkats due to our love of jazz. We had live jazz on the weekends and often had live gospel music on Sundays. Keith was an amazing saxophone player and would join in when he got the chance. We eventually sold the coffee shop and flipped a home shortly after which was a wonderful experience. I was ecstatic each day I spent designing and decorating and we were thrilled when the first person who saw the home purchased it.
I enjoyed designing and working on our flip so much that I began doing some room makeovers for friends and eventually got some staging jobs. I found that I really loved transforming spaces.
Just under 8 months ago on July 17 of 2015, one day before his 54th birthday Keith called me from work to say he wanted to hear my voice and tell me that he loved me. That was the last time I ever spoke to him. Ninety minutes later I received a call from a nurse at OHSU. He had a heart attack while working and they weren’t able to revive him. That was the absolute darkest hour of my life. It is still a blur in my mind and I can’t recall the hours, days or weeks afterward. What I can recall is that 4 weeks before he died he told me that if anything ever happened to him he would want me to continue on doing all the things that we had planned. At the time it seemed like a strange conversation because there was nothing to indicate that there was anything wrong, his death was completely unexpected.
I went through the fall and the holidays in a fog and when the first week of January rolled around I tried to figure out what to do with my life. I remembered how much he wanted me to attend Heritage and decided to call. I spoke with Stephanie and found that the classes were beginning the following week. She was so enthusiastic and friendly and encouraged me to give it a try. Without overthinking it I decided to just jump in and do it.
Attending Heritage is the best thing I could have done. Not only is it a wonderful learning experience but the friendships I have made in this class have been heartwarming and encouraging. The instructor is awesome and I have learned so much from her and from our trips to the showrooms. There were so many things I loved about design but didn’t know how to turn it into a business. Heritage has filled in the blanks for me and taught me how to develop the business side in conjunction with the creative.
After graduating my goal is to work with residential clients to create affordable rooms that will express a style they are passionate about. It’s difficult to think about the future without my amazing husband but when I get to Heritage I am able to see a glimpse of the future and know that there are still wonderful times ahead. I will always be grateful for Stephanie’s encouragement on the phone the day I called. No regrets…..looking forward to the future!