Nazanin Karimi grew up in Iran and remembers her love and passion for design starting as a child. She loved to cut flowers from the garden and make floral arrangements, redesign her bedroom, set the dining table and rearrange furniture for parties.
She enjoyed growing up in Iran, but at 19 years old it was time for Nazanin and her family to leave as it wasn’t a safe place anymore. Her father was in the military through the revolution and stayed until the point that his life was in danger. Her father and brother weren’t allowed to leave the country at the time, so the only way for them to escape was to pay a smuggler to take them out of Iran. They were told that it would take one day to walk from Northwest Iran to Istanbul, but it ended up taking much longer. “We didn’t hear from them for one week, it took them one week to get to Istanbul.” They stayed in Turkey for one month before leaving to the United States. Nazanin, her mother and younger sister went to Germany 8 months later. As women with passports, they were able to safely fly out of Iran to Germany. They had to leave everything behind — their home and their family who hoped they would be able to return some day.
After living in Germany for six and a half months, Nazanin and her family came to Portland, Oregon. “Once we got to the United States we realized it wasn’t going to be that easy to visit our family in Iran.” Nazanin and her mother have been back, but her father hasn’t been back in over 30 years. Being uprooted and forced to leave your homeland is hard for many of us to imagine – it shows incredible strength in Nazanin and her family.
Once in Portland, Nazanin enrolled at Portland State University and graduated with a BA in Science. PSU is also where she met her future husband while at an engagement party! She then studied Ultrasound at University of Massachusetts and once completing that program began working at OHSU doing vascular ultrasounds while living in Longview, Washington. She worked at OHSU up until she became a stay at home mom after having her second son.
While raising her kids, Nazanin remodeled her home in Portland and a couple of rental homes. Her friends and family who saw the remodels were very complimentary of Nazanin’s design work, which led to them consulting her for help and ideas with their homes. Her friends began encouraging her to start doing interior design as her career. “When my youngest son graduated from high school I needed something to do with my free time. I wanted to pursue something, and why not continue doing something that I love?” Nazanin’s longtime hairdresser, Daniel, mentioned to her that he was going to Heritage School of Interior Design. “I had looked into longer, more expensive programs but I have two kids in college! And I didn’t want another Bachelors degree.”
Heritage has been a perfect fit for Nazanin and she is an absolute joy to have in class. “I was afraid to be a student again – it’s been a challenge, but a good challenge. Whenever I worry about class on Tuesday, or a test, my husband reminds me to be proud of what I’m doing. Once I’m at school I feel good – I love being here and I love all the new friendships.” Nazanin has grown so much over the past 12 weeks and has wonderful relationships with Stephanie, Michele and her classmates. “My instructor Michele and Stephanie have been there to mentor me and help me obtain my interior design goals.”
After graduating from Heritage, Nazanin is going to focus on her own design business, Chic Living Interiors. She already has a well established Instagram page and a meaningful business name, suggested by the mother of a close childhood friend. “I remember her coming over to my house and walking around my garden helping me think of names for my business. She passed in 2010 and I’m so glad that that I have this name for my business that she picked.” Nazanin hopes to work in a collaborative environment – a place where she can go to bounce ideas off other, share a library of resources and be around people. She is a beautiful person inside and out and we can not wait to see what the future holds for her as an interior designer!