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

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Opportunity for input on campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus is closing temporarily. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rising COVID cases cited in temporary Rainforest Arts closure

Contact can still be made through email and social media

The Red Zed 1 aroused a great deal of curiosity when it was stationed off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Alaskan fast ferries the eventual load for heavy hauler

The Red Zed 1 stayed anchored in Chemainus for the better part of a month and a half

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Most Read