Road Less Taken

An off-the-beaten-path Studio City boutique takes a novel approach to home décor and gift-giving.

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  • Written by
    Linda Grasso •

Paula Smail is a true believer in reinvention. Take a look at her journey. The South African native started out as a successful IBM executive in New York. When that gig was up, Paula decided to go for a real lifestyle change. She moved to LA and hunkered down for some soul searching. “I’d always loved flipping through interior design magazines,” she explains. “Then one night over some wine I started thinking that I might like designing fabric. I bought a sketch book and discovered I loved drawing.” 

Paula started out wholesaling bold-colored fabric with geometrical or botanical motifs. However, despite modest sales, she found it disappointing. Thinking she might like the one-on-one aspect of retail, Paula didn’t skip a beat. She opened a store, naming it after the street she grew up on in Johannesburg.

Three years later, Henry Road is blossoming. Paula’s trademark fabric is still sold, but the most popular items are lampshades and pillows covered in it, as well as the store’s unique selection of home décor and gift items. “I finally found satisfaction. For me, selling is personal,” Paula says. ”I love giving ideas and brainstorming with customers. I know my merchandise, I’m creative with it.”

Tucked just off the main drag, Henry Road is packed with the elegant and the whimsical. “My style is modern European, and I buy for the store what I like,” Paula says. Prices range from $5 to $500. “I love it that young girls can come in and spend a few dollars and get something. Or someone can buy a clever gift without shelling out $50. Gift-giving should be fun, not stressful.”

Henry Road | 3949 Laurelgrove Avenue | Studio City | 818-762-8966 |

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