On the Inside: Henry Road

One of my very first posts was about Henry Road and the way the head designer/founder, Paula Smail, beautifully combines patterns into pillows and other home decor items. You can check out the post here, but I wanted to highlight this wonderful brand once again. Paula recently launched a wonderful online journal, A Journey In Color, which highlights “places, objects and people that inspire; the process of creating and designing; of stocking the shop with great decorating and gift items; and of friends, neighbors and customers who share their laughter and dreams.” I love seeing the inspiration alongside the finished product, such as Henry Road’s line of African waxed pieces. Be sure to check out the entire journal here and the collection here.

I have been a fan of Henry Road for some time now, so I was delighted that Paula agreed to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

1. How did Henry Road begin? Did the design studio come first and then the store? Or vice-versa?

Henry Road is my dream job.  It’s my life.  It’s birth was a series of decisions, accidental thoughts and ideas that took a while to come to fruition as I figured out what I did and didn’t want to be doing.   Everything has been a learning process as this is a different world from my former life in corporate America.  In the end, I started out designing fabric and making pillows with a view to building a wholesale and online business.   At the time, a future option was possibly opening a store.

Once I got the business started, I moved the store idea way up as I quickly realized that my design aesthetic and interests were broader than the fabric design.  I also discovered that I need human contact and routine in my life and that I don’t do well working solo at home.  As a result the store is now the core of my business and is a blend of my fabric with art and things I love.  Putting the key in the lock and opening the door in the morning makes me happy.

2. I love the new Henry Road journal. What inspired this new endeavor?

Thank you for loving my new journal.   It’s called A Journey In Color as that has always been my tag for the company and my life. I was clicking through one of the great new online magazines one day when it occurred to me that I could do a scaled down version that was all about Henry Road.   I had expanded the last catalog we printed to be more than a line sheet and even though it was very popular with store customers, I couldn’t afford to print another one and had been grappling with an alternate solution.   I couldn’t get excited about just putting a catalog online as we already have a website and a blog.   This magazine is the perfect solution and I am loving doing it.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.  Yes it’s more to do but it provides structure and deadline for things that need to get done anyway and allows me to hone and develop my styling, photography and creative skills which to me is beyond crazy fun.

3. How do you stay inspired? Do you think having so many facets to the business ( design studio, consultant service, store front) helps fuel your creativity?

I do find that action helps fuel creativity and that the different things I do all overlap and feed one another.   Business inspiration and focus comes from working on a variety of projects, from happy customers and from seeing other people succeed; as well as from the reality of having to pay bills every month.  On the creative front, inspiration is everywhere all the time whether I am out walking the dog, driving to work, paging through one of the gazillion interiors magazines I refuse to throw out, or looking at fabulous blogs like yours that are filled with beauty and interesting ideas. The bigger challenge for me is deciding what to act and focus on versus what to just enjoy.

5 Comments on “On the Inside: Henry Road

  1. Wonderful patterns and colours!
    This is truly and inspiring post for us surface designers.

  2. Such a great little interview. I love to hear about people following their dream and doing what they love. I agree, very inspiring! Also, they make awesome stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks Sarah! I think Paula’s love and passion for what she does is why her work is so awesome! Glad you enjoyed the post ; )

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.