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Angela’s namesake shares some current highlights from the shop.
“Founded in 1902 and acquired by Chanel in 2012, Barrie is one of my favorite lines in the shop. We are proudly one of the few retailers in the U.S. The collection is sketched in Paris and created in Scotland. I just love the modern twist, with traditional details.” Cashmere sweater, $930
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“When I was in Paris visiting Barrie, I kept wandering over to an amazing room with jewelry. Turns out, it was the Goossens collection. In 2005, they joined Chanel’s Maison d’Art as well. The company started in the ’50s and is still family-run. They create dreamy jewelry out of gold, bronze, silver and semiprecious stones.” Athena rings, $345 each
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“Valextra is an old Milanese company, dating back to 1937. The bags are lightweight, minimal and streamlined. Every component is cut and assembled through specialized engineering and technicality. Each item is stamped and the artisan identified.” Passepartout medium bag, $2,980
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“I love that Marla Aaron’s jewelry is almost like hardware, but made of precious metals and stones. There are so many ways to play with her pieces. Sometimes people spend hours before finding their own perfect combination.” Starlock pendants, $840-$1,610 each
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“Golden Goose is both practical and covetable, with a worn-in and loved vibe. It was founded in 2000 by Alessandro and Francesca Rinaldo, and we have carried the shoes since they started.” Crystal-embellished Superstar sneaker, $1,595
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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