We recently interviewed Heritage Graduate, Keats Willis, to learn more about her journey to Heritage and where she is now!
Where did you grow up and what was your career path prior to Heritage?
Originally I grew up in southern California, near Los Angeles. My family and I would travel a lot between LA and the central coast of California. Before I started at Heritage, my career was focused on education. I graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BA in French and African studies which led me to my first career as an instructor at a language immersion preschool. Prior to starting at Heritage, I was working as a teacher for students with learning disabilities.
Why did you decide to pursue interior design as your career?
Interior design is something that has always been a passion for me. I think that it really started when I was younger, and my parents bought a “fixer-upper” home off the coast of central California. What started out as fun project that “just needed a coat of paint” became a full-scale remodel including demolition, leveling the house, new roofing, walls, etc. My parents decided they wanted to rebuild it themselves and enlisted the help of me and my sister. That experience of helping landscape, lay tile, staining decks, and more really ignited my passion for home design. It’s an incredible feeling to take a vision for a home and turn it into reality.
What challenges did you have to overcome to get where you are today?
Before I started at Heritage, I found myself to be unhappy and anxious about where I was in my career to the point where I felt very burnt out and unfulfilled. So I decided to quit my job and take two months to truly figure out what made me happy, which led me back to interior design! I’ve been very fortunate in my life to have a wonderful support network around me. They have helped me achieve where I am now, and I am incredibly grateful for them.
How has your career path changed since attending Heritage? What are you future goals as an Interior Designer?
After completing the Fundamentals of Interior Design Program at Heritage, I began working for Donna DuFresne Interior Design and Studio B. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Donna and Megan, and I am very excited for what the future holds!
As an interior designer, my goal is to really grow with a small studio or designer. An aspect about interior design that I cherish is the essence of collaboration and community. I want to take part in just that as an interior designer: start by working for a small studio or designer as an associate designer and work my way up until I am working alongside the head designer themselves.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
A source of inspiration for me has always been in nature: the textures, shapes, patterns, colors — everything. I absolutely love to create a design that incorporates some essence of nature, even implicitly, as a way to continue the narrative that our indoor space can coexist and incorporate our outdoor space.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is actually from a book I read in college called, “L’amour-cent-vies” (Love Across A Hundred Lives) by Werewere Liking. In part of the book it discusses the myth of the coin which is that they were once separate sides that were cursed into being a two-sided coin, and that the reason a coin spins is because they are running to search for the other side. However, it says (to loosely translate it),
“Cease to run, your destiny runs behind you.”
If the coin stopped turning it would see the other side — I have applied this to my life where we so often try too hard to figure out what is next, but sometimes we just need to pause to let our destiny catch up to us.
Thank you Keats for sharing your story with us! Below are a few of Keats’s design boards for her Commercial Design final project! We loved her boutique hotel design and were so impressed by her selection of materials and her amazing sketches!