in partnership
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Heritage School of Interior Design is headquartered in Portland, OR, and also operates in Denver, CO and most recently expanded to Seattle, WA. It's an intensive program designed to be completed in as little as six months and fully equip students for a career in interior design by combining a hands-on education with a full complement of technical courses. (Credit: Seattle Refined)

A Tale of Triumph: Meet the inspired woman behind Heritage School of Interior Design

A passion for decorating is literally woven into Stephanie Plymale's life.

"The Heritage School of Interior Design is an intensive interior design program [that is] accelerated and very efficient," said Plymale, founder and CEO of said school. "Students can be in and out of our school within six to nine months."

Students here can learn the skills they need to set themselves up for success.

"They are going to learn everything from floor plans to construction plans [and] materials," she said. "We really put a lot of emphasis on presentation skills so that every single person leaves here with a strong ability to speak about their designs."

Plymale was a successful and seasoned designer herself when she heard about an opportunity to help others.

"I was an interior designer for 20 years, started my business in my twenties and then I had an amazing career," she said.

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"A colleague of mine said 'The Heritage School of Interior Design is closing down, are you interested in this?'" she recalls. "I went and met with the owner and we found that it was a fit."

Since that day, Heritage has grown with locations in Portland, Denver, and Seattle - with more on the way.

"[What makes this school so special] is the culture. We have cohort learning," said Plymale. "Every group is a small group, and they go through the program together and they get very, very close. We have students who stay close for years and they stay colleagues. Heritage is like a family."

Plymale has created an entire business based on the idea of home, which is incredibly meaningful as she didn't have one growing up.

"When I was living on a beach in Mendocino, we were living in a car," she said. "We wandered the beach all day long, and one day I found a bus I had never seen before."

She went up, and knocked on the door of the bus.

"What I saw was seared into my memory. He had transformed this bus into a home," said Plymale. "It had a sofa, a kitchen, a tea kettle and a warmth. [From there,] I started recreating home in any way I could."

At just four years old, that was the first time she ever really saw a home.

"I started gathering things to try and recreate that memory and that kind of took me through my years until I became I designer," said Plymale.

She's sharing her personal tale, in essence, about a strength of human spirit, in her upcoming book, "American Daughter". It will be available in February 11, 2020.

"It's my story, where I talk about life when I was homeless, lived in a car, an orphanage. It's a book about my journey and also about my mom who is severely mentally ill, who gets cancer," she said. "We had a stalking order against her because she tried to burn my house down. She's very mentally ill [but] before she dies, I need to know what happened to her so I go in and try to find out what happened. In that, I find one of the biggest secrets [that] she has been holding onto her whole life."

It's very possible that if Plymale hadn't had her difficulties growing up, she may not have become the passionate woman she is about helping others with their careers.

"When you go through something like that, you are who you are. I think it's given me tremendous empathy for people and I really do love my students like they are my babies. I feel like I have 100 babies out there," she said.

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Whether it's building a business or writing a book, Plymale's most brilliant design is her own life which she's dedicated to helping others.

"You can't hold me back. You just can't. I fall and I get back up."