Casa Oriental's Stephanie Smith. Photograph by Lia Crowe

Secrets and Lives with Stephanie Smith

Oriental Casa President loves finding design solutions

  • Mar. 31, 2021 1:30 a.m.

– Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Lia Crowe

Despite being exposed to the art and design world from her youngest years, Stephanie Smith never really thought she’d end up there for her career.

“My mom is an artist and is in design, and she also did art studies at Emily Carr,” Stephanie says. “She had a gallery when I was a young teen, so I learned how to cut glass and frames, and do all the assembly from about 12 years old.”

After finishing a degree in business and marketing, Stephanie agreed to let her mom train her at Ethan Allen furniture—“I really thought it was going to be a short-term venture”—and she has been in the design and furniture industry ever since.

Now the president of Oriental Casa’s flagship North American store on South Granville, Stephanie has come back to loving furniture after taking a few years away.

“I saw people shopping for mostly throwaway pieces, things that would just end up in a landfill in a few years. I’d been in interior design for so long, and I had been losing the passion,” she says. “So I left furniture for a few years, but this line really brought me back. It’s so unusual, and just the details in each piece…you could easily mix in a piece and create real interest in your room, or do a whole room and create a dramatic, beautiful look.”

Besides being beautifully designed with intricate detail work, it was the quality of the pieces that sold Stephanie.

“There are no springs…it’s all solid rosewood. It’s some of the heaviest furniture I’ve ever moved, and I have moved a lot of furniture in my life!” she says with a laugh.

Seeing how the pieces fit into her clients’ homes and knowing they’ve invested in something that will last decades has brought her a whole new level of satisfaction too.

“I love helping people, and I love finding design solutions,” she says. “This became the passion, and it fulfills me so completely. I’m never tired of it.”

THE 7 SINS

Envy:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

Arlene Dickinson from Dragon’s Den. I’ve always loved what a great business woman she is for so many reasons. Watching her over the years has been inspiring, and I have always felt I related to her. From building her self-made fortune, seeing all of her supporting causes and how she shows her passion for what she believes in, I have always admired her…not to mention, her shoes are always fabulous!

Gluttony:

What is the food you could eat over and over again?

Sushi! I never tire of sushi, although, funny enough, I have a severe shellfish allergy. I’ve always loved a meal with variety, and there is always endless selection with sushi.

Greed:

You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?

Leisure property! I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve dreamed of having a small quaint place on a lake—somewhere that memories are made for a lifetime. A place to get away and enjoy fun experiences and time together with all the people I love. A place to leave for my kids to cherish time spent together.

Wrath:

Pet peeves?

Restless legs! I’d never experienced it until pregnancy. I’m pretty busy as it is, and hate anything slowing me down. And insincerity. I’ve always trusted that people are generally good. Over time, they always show their true character: they’re either reliable or they’re questionable, and it’s only a matter of time until the latter reveals itself. I have such a love of people that it always stings to uncover insincerity, and it’s one thing I’m always disappointed in.

Sloth:

Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

On a lake. Although I’m not a strong swimmer—I mean, I learned how by diving for money my grandmother would throw in the lake—but I am a water baby, and as long as there is a boat or flotation device, I’m there! I always thought I’d live in a floating home and be able to feel free, anchoring down wherever and whenever I felt like.

Pride:

What is the one thing you’re secretly

proud of?

Knowing my strength, on so many levels. Knowing I can get through tough times is definitely something I heavily value. I’ve been faced with situations both in my business and my personal life—you know, the ones you want to avoid or try to ignore—but I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible mentors who showed me that it’s how you deal with things that have the biggest impact. I’ve worked really hard to keep a good perspective and see things from other views than simply my own, and that’s allowed me to be mindful and sensitive when confronting anything.

Lust:

What makes your heart beat faster?

Sharing in someone’s happiness. I’ve naturally always been a pretty positive person, and I love seeing people succeed and grow and celebrate the little and the big wins. I believe that celebrating these things attracts

more of the same, and I love being around people who also adopt this attitude. Life is short, and it sure is better with like-minded people around you!

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

FashionHome decor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Strathcona Gardens is one of many recreation opportunities that could be investigated during a feasibility study. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona rural and municipal directors disagree on recreation study

Rural directors say study would not affect them, don’t want to pay for it

Red dresses hang on the Longhouse at Campbell River’s Robert Ostler Park on May 5, which is designated as Red Dress Day to commemorate murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. A gathering at the Longhouse was held to mark the day and the MMWIG. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Campbell River gathering commemorates murdered and missing women and girls

Red Dress Day marked by ceremony at Robert Ostler Park

City of Campbell River crews work to repair a four-inch water main near Carihi Secondary School. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Main break leaves Campbell River neighbourhood without water

Students sent home early from Carihi Secondary, businesses closed

The arena at Strathcona Gardens could be in the running for the 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition. File photo – Campbell River Mirror
Strathcona Gardens eyes 2022 Kraft Hockeyville competition

Winner gets to host a pre-season NHL game and $250,000 to help fix their arena

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read