RACHEL ANDERSON, HARPER RAE DESIGN CO.
Rachel Anderson recently graduated from Heritage and is already running a successful design business, Harper Rae Design Co. We interviewed her to learn more about her inspiring journey.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background
I’m a Midwest raised girl who has called Oregon home for over a decade now. I look back at my childhood and appreciate the roots, but I can’t imagine calling anywhere else than this beautiful state home. There is so much inspiration to be found in nature here and so much opportunity to explore. Although I didn’t know I wanted to be an interior designer until recently, I can see the foundation of this career path was planted when I was just a kid. My dad worked in housing construction for a long time and the smell of wood visiting job sites was so impactful on me. I still get a glimpse of it every time I walk into Home Depot. He also built a couple of custom homes and it was fascinating to see the creativity in his designs. My mom was also a big influence on me as a kid, introducing me to loads of crafts projects that helped feed my creative mind. Those are some of my happiest memories as a kid and now I see those times come into play when I’m sifting through textiles and other finishes to develop a design concept. It gives me that same feeling as when I was younger. Those kinds of activities have and always will be my happy place.
2. When did you realize that you were passionate about interior design?
Looking back now I see that I was always on this path and had a natural interest in interior design, but I didn’t realize I could actually make a career out of it until recently! After completing my second personal home renovation, I knew it was something I wanted to do full-time. Seeing beautiful spaces unfold is a no-brainer but what I was really surprised to find through the renovation process was how much I enjoyed the actual process of designing a space and the excitement of bringing a vision and idea to life.
3. What were you doing for a career before Heritage?
I had been a full-time stay-at-home mom to two girls for a couple years prior to attending Heritage. I love being a mom and feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home, but after awhile I found myself desiring some sort of creative outlet and something more personal to focus on.
4. Why did you decide to pursue interior design as your career?
Being a mom is and always will be my priority, so I was eager to find a career that could work around that. I love that interior design affords me the opportunity to turn my passions into a career and gives license for my creative side to run wild. Also, owning my own business means I can control my time commitment as well, so I can drop my girls off and pick them up from school, I can be home on sick days when needed and even lighten my schedule to be with them when they’re out of school for the summer. It’s really incredible to think I get to do something that feeds my soul for a living, while also enjoying as much time as possible with my kids and family. At the end of the day, family is everything, but I’m also my best self when I’m coming from a place that feels full and this career does just that.
5. What was your experience at Heritage like and how has is helped your start your business?
My time at Heritage was a whirlwind but it was truly life changing! I had researched educational programs for interior design pretty extensively before deciding on Heritage. What sold me on the program was how quickly I could progress through it. I already had a BA in Psychology and some masters studies under my belt, so the thought of attending a longer program seemed inefficient, both in the time commitment and financial commitment. Heritage’s Masters Program filled all the blanks of what I needed to get a career in interior design started. It was a no-brainer, really. There was a brief moment where I considered following the “self-taught” route like some designers have, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might be missing some important bit of info. Plus, building confidence in myself and my future brand was something I wanted to walk away with and the Program did just that.
There were so many practical aspects of Heritage’s Program that were instrumental in my success as a designer. It’s hard to include them all here, but there’s a few top ones worth noting. One of the highlights of the program were the field trips – it was so helpful to learn the direct resources here in the community while also growing my network! And although it was my achilles heel in the beginning, having lots of opportunities to work on presentation skills in a safe environment was one of the most helpful parts of all. Plus, the wide variety of technical classes available (autoCAD, SketchUp, etc.) have given me an edge in a burgeoning industry.
6. Tell us about your new business and business goals
Right now, I’m building my interior design business from home with my two beautiful girls in tow. I named it Harper Rae Design Co which is a combination of their two middle names. It holds special meaning to me and is a continuous reminder of why I do what I do. I currently offer full-service interior design, consulting and e-Design services. The e-Design portion of my business is something I’m really excited about since it gives me the opportunity to do what I love from the comfort of home while also spending time with my girls. It also lets me connect with so many more people across the nation than I would get to otherwise and the connections I’m making are one of the best parts of this job. Early next year, I plan to launch a pillow line and my ultimate hope is to open my own brick & mortar shop to sell home goods and offer workshops and classes to teach and connect with others in the community. I daydream daily about my girls growing up and making memories together with me in the shop. I find so much inspiration and joy in this career and want to share it with them any way possible!