by now, i think it’s no secret to see that i’m obsessed with pillows and textiles! so to have the wonderfully talented paula, the owner and designer behind henry road, talking with us today about taking the leap is such icing on the cake for me! i’m sure you’ve come across her work throughout the blogosphere and numerous magazines. her designs are colorful, vibrant and full of life. and once you read her interview, you’ll see that she is too! she recently opened her store in studio city and i’m dying to take a visit to it…it’s full of beautiful accessories for the home. my dream! and can i say that i absolutely love her answer to “what is her guilty pleasure” – yep, that’s one of mine too!
Can you share a bit about yourself…what’s your background? How did you get started?
I grew up in South Africa and after university travelled for a few years funding myself doing various jobs. I then worked in marketing and communications in the corporate world in London, Paris and New York before deciding that it was time for a change. I moved to LA and began designing fabric and making things, and two years ago I opened my shop in Studio City. I am pretty much learning as I go and relying heavily on a love of design. Time will tell where this adventure takes me.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from anything and everything. I tend to notice small details and am inspired equally by everything and nothing in particular. Images in magazines, shadows on a path, flowers, the detail on the shirt of a passerby, the typeface on a street sign are all interesting to me. A lot of my designs are drawn from nature but a building is as likely to fascinate me.
I’m always fascinated by those who are able to take the leap…what hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome? Are you able to pursue your dream full-time?
I am pursuing my dream full-time which means that some months are tighter financially than others. I tried doing two jobs at one time very unsuccessfully so decided to fund my living expenses with retirement savings until the business could cover my costs as well. It was scary and hard to completely make the leap and go from earning a lot of money to earning nothing but nothing ventured, nothing gained has become my motto. I have found that the most important part of doing this is having complete and absolute blind faith that its going to work because there is nothing that says which business is going to work and which isn’t. And yes, there are definitely some days when the blind faith thing is easier said than done:)
Can you give us an idea of what a typical day is like for you?
I like getting up reasonably early. Walking the dog and picking up a large iced coffee are part of my routine most mornings. Before I head to the store, I do things like water flower pots, check email, pack web orders, and run any errands that I can fit in. I fill the downtime in the store with anything from quickbooks and paying bills to chatting to friends and family on the phone, blogging and unpacking new inventory and rearranging displays. I have a never ending to do list — and when I really am not up for doing anything I rely on online Solitaire to keep me occupied. Planning new products to make, looking for new stuff for the store, cutting and sewing, drawing are mostly done in the evenings.
Creating work and running a small business can be time consuming, can you share how you manage to balance home/work life?
I don’t even try. Work is my life. For the most part, I don’t see any need for balance – I love what I do so why not spend most of my time doing it. That being said I do think that it is important not to neglect relationships with friends and family that are important to me so I try not to — sometimes with mixed success. I also am very conscious of taking time out and pacing myself as I can’t afford to burn out.
What one piece of advice can you share with other aspiring artists?
Do what you love always but if you want to earn a living doing it, be very clear that you want to run a business and take on all that running a business entails which includes not having much time to do the fun creative stuff. If not find a job that you like, that pays the bills and gives you time to create.
What is the most glamorous part of running your business?
I am a hands on jeans and sneakers person so don’t tend to think of any part of my life as glamorous but because of the location of our store, we work with a lot of set designers and many of our customers are well known actors.
Probably topping a very long list of unglamorous jobs would be washing the store windows.
Just for fun…what’s your idea of a perfect day?
A hike in the hills with my dog, a good expresso, a few hours of drawing, nothing outstanding on my to do list, a Margherita with friends.
What are some of your favorite blogs or websites?
I have a long list of blogs and sites that constantly shifts depending on what is top of mind. I find we love indie useful for scanning through lots of blogs quickly and cote maison and living etc have well edited gallery sections so they are always good for an interior design fix. And as much as I love blogs and websites I am a huge print fan — I love my pile of magazines and they don’t get thrown away! Favorites (when I can afford them) include Living etc, Vogue Living Australia, Selvedge, Elle Decor (US, UK, France, Italy), Marie Claire Maison.
Any guilty pleasures?
Thanks for sharing pictures of your workspace. I love your inspiration board and the shelves full of fabric!! So beautiful.
thanks paula for stopping by one sydney road and sharing with us!