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Meet Trailblazer Taylor Shaffer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Shaffer.

Taylor, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up, I was never certain about what I wanted to do career-wise. My father was an engineer, my mother was an accountant and my sister attended UCSD and later USD to get her degree in psychology. The one thing I was certain on was the fact that I didn’t want to choose a career that would require more than four years of school. My mom was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease which is basically a combination of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. It is a fatal genetic disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain which destroys a person’s physical and mental abilities usually during their prime working years and has no cure. My sister and I both have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease, so when my mom was forced to retire from disability in her 30’s, it set the tone for me carving my own career path. This created a sense of urgency for me to figure out what I liked to do and master it quickly.

As a kid, I always had an artistic side but never thought there would be anything I could put that energy into as a career until I stumbled upon architecture and interior design- not to be confused with interior decorating. After a year at community college post high school, I transferred to the Art Institute of San Diego and eventually graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Interior Design. After graduating, I got an internship at LPA, one of the top 50 architecture firms in the nation. After the internship ended, I took the leap to begin freelancing and have gotten extremely lucky with being brought on to multiple big projects, those of which are still top secret but can soon be shared! Whether or not I do become sick, I want to make an impact with my work whether I only have 15 years or 50 years to do so.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. Struggling finding my passion for struggling to earn my degree, then struggling to find my footing in my workplace have all made it very challenging. The world of architecture and design is a very male-dominated industry and it is definitely intimidating being a 23-year-old woman trying to dip my feet in. My advice for other young women that are beginning their journey starts out fearless. Don’t let the fear of competition, failure, and rough roads stop you from the initial jump. Once you take that initial jump, you’ll feel like you can do anything, which will then manifest into you accomplishing all that you put your mind to!

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am an interior designer. A lot of people mistake that for being an interior decorator which at times gets frustrating, but, it challenges me more. Architects are responsible for building the shell of a building and interior designers do everything and anything that involves the inside- walls, rooms, lighting, etc… Interior designers have a wide range of specialties- homes, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, retail spaces, schools- just to name a few. I have always had a love and passion for food, so I always knew I wanted to get into the hospitality side of design. I’ve always dreamed of designing restaurants and bars. I have a few exciting projects I’m working on now that I can’t speak about but stay tuned!

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
Apps- Headspace! It’s a great way to unwind and relax, it’s meditation made simple.

Books- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck- it really has helped me do exactly what it says, but in the best and most positive way.

I love Instagram because I’m able to follow all of the designers that I love and quickly gather inspiration.

Also, my family has a documentary called The Longest Journey that showcases the struggle of Huntington’s Disease and I like to watch it occasionally to remind myself of why I need to remain humble, hardworking and passionate with my career.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Taylor Shaffer Renders, Victoria Avalos

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