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Staying Power

Anh-Minh Le | March 23, 2018 | Style & Beauty Story Style National

For Angela Hensler, there was no master plan. “I just went from my gut,” she says of her entrepreneurial leap of faith. “I wanted to do this; I wanted to have a store; and I had no idea what I was in for.” Flash-forward a couple of decades and Hensler’s shop, Angela, is still going strong. This past February marked its 20th anniversary in a 1,000-square-foot storefront just off the main drag of Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park. For Hensler, there’s an undeniable charm to the locale: “I love being on the side street,” she says. “When I’m in New York or Europe, my favorite things are almost always found on the side streets.” She equates the space itself to “a big, beautiful walk-in closet”—brimming with casual California brands such as Monrow and Citizens of Humanity, along with sought-after European labels like Dorothee Schumacher, Herno and Barrie. To give each item an extra prized quality, Hensler stocks limited quantities.

Prior to opening Angela, Hensler had worked at Esprit, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, as well as at small boutiques, and envisioned her own undertaking squarely in the latter category. “I liked the close relationship with people,” she explains, “and I wanted something more intimate.” (Hence, her minimal foray into e-commerce.) The Portola Valley native now resides in Marin County, but has no plans to uproot the shop or expand closer to her home. In fact, she has doubled down in Menlo Park, leasing another property across the street. Although she’s undecided on what this will be, earlier this year, Hensler used it as a pop-up for sale merchandise.

In addition to plans for the second venue, which totals just 400 square feet, the coming months will bring a face-lift to Angela, including a fresh coat of paint and the introduction of fashion illustrations to the decor. New names will appear on the shelves—like San Francisco artist Stevie Howell, known for her patterned silk pajamas and robes. Hensler recently went “on tour,” she says, embarking on her semiannual trip that encompasses fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan. It’s a whirlwind of attending shows, visiting showrooms and paying attention to the buzz. Because, after all this time, her vision for Angela remains simple: “I like to go treasure-hunting for things,” she says, “special and unique things.” 1129 Chestnut Ave., Menlo Park

Originally published in the March/April issue of
Silicon Valley

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