PicturePaula Purcell.

Mill Valley resident Paula Purcell has spent the bulk of her career in real estate, from running her own property management company in Denver, Colo. and managing a wide portfolio of assets for Bermant Development Company in Santa Barbara to her current role as an asset manager for TDA Investment in San Mateo.

But Purcell’s also got a playful side that belies her career choices, and she’s ready to show that off here in Mill Valley. Purcell, who moved to the Bay Area 11 years ago, is set to open Paula James, a new retail shop at 365 Miller Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Anne Taylor’s Sienna Rose store. The shops opens in the first week of October.

“I’m 62 and I’m looking to do something that pleases my creative side,” says Purcell, who lives in Blithedale Canyon. “I have a fun, quirky side to me. People think I’m sophisticated but I also have a part of me that’s out there. I’m excited to show off that side of me.”

Purcell, originally from Ashland, Ore., says the shop’s moniker is drawn from her own and her grandfather’s first name, which she adopted as her own middle name many years ago.

Purcell says Taylor told her that she’d been planning to retire, and thought the time was right to make the leap. She says Paula James’ style and inventory will encompass some of what Sienna Rose had, with her own tastes mixed in as well.  

“I’ll have clothing that has good lines that are tasteful, that look good and allow people to express themselves either with the clothing or with accessories like jewelry and scarves,” she says. “And I would like to carry a lot of local products, and we’re developing those relationships.”

PictureAlison Brown.

Purcell also plans to make art a central component of the shop, and has brought on a friend, local artist and jewelry maker Alison Brown, to work in the store. Art will grace the walls and shelves, along with some hand-woven goods, home goods, table linens, napkins, pillows, a grandmother gift section for infants, a section of books by local authors, a book exchange and much more.

“And places to sit,” Purcells adds. “I’m really looking to create the kind of store that would please me but that I could never find.”

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