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

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Valley tulip attraction returns this weekend for 1 month

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Most Read