A S H L E Y S U L L I V A N
Step inside The Foundry Home Goods, and you’ll get an instant boost in spirits. From the exposed brick walls to natural sunlight pouring in during the day and the warm glow in the evening, it’s an atmosphere that’s both approachable and elegant. And while many beautiful shops have interesting origin stories, the tale behind The Foundry is particularly special.
“I started to make-believe the idea of a shop in my head when I was living in New York, working for Holly Hunt (a high-end, trade-only showroom),” founder and owner Anna Hillegas tells House Beautiful. “It was this very elevated environment; a lot of polish and a lot of glamour. The spaces we were working with were just the most gorgeous apartments you can imagine.”
But there was a disconnect, Hillegas recalls: “It was a strange experience to be in these shiny perfect penthouses that had this hush and then take the elevator down to the street and all of a sudden be surrounded by the rhythm and noise” of the city, she explains.
And while Hillegas felt nourished and excited by both of those worlds, she was compelled to reconcile their distinct and stark contrast with something that captured the beauty of those apartments but felt as alive as the city. Meanwhile, at the same serendipitous moment back in her hometown of Minneapolis, her father’s foundry in the warehouse district had a vacancy. “I basically grew up toddling around that building and always loved the feeling of it,” Hillegas says. “I spent a lot of time visualizing what this world could be. A place for staples, a place for making everyday living easier and more beautiful.”
When she heard the foundry was available for rent, she packed up her life in New York and headed to Minneapolis with six months to actualize her dream career. “It was a huge leap. That feeling in your throat where you just have no idea what’s going to happen,” she says. The quick turnaround and tight budget ended up working in Hillegas’s favor, though. For example, the signature branding came out of necessity, so The Foundry’s organic and bare packaging is as genuine as it is unplanned.
“I found a bunch of index cards and loose-leaf paper around, and I figured out a way to print receipts on notebook paper so I didn’t need to buy a receipt printer,” she recalls. “And there were a few rolls of brown paper and one giant spool of packing twine left over from the old shipping center that used to be in the space leaning in a corner in a back room. That’s what started the brown paper and twine. We still have that spool, it’s amazing how long it lasted.”
And while The Foundry has since moved from the North Loop to South Minneapolis, the atmosphere and the goods are the same (and Hillegas chose a spot that she feels equally as connected to—this one reminds her of living in New York’s West Village). Like the found objects used for the packaging, the items Hillegas stocks are also staples and everyday essentials. You’ll find everything from utilitarian cleaning products, office supplies, and kitchen tools to decorative objects, textiles, and furniture, but they’re all artisanal—and simply pretty to look at.
“Like how in France, everyone buys a single baguette from the bakery every day, I wanted people to come by to get beeswax for their dinner table that night from us in the afternoon,” she explainss. At the Foundry, you’ll find well-made versions of staples like dishware and cleaning tools, all meant to elevate daily living to something more beautiful and intentional. It’s pretty impossible to visit this glowing little store without finding something you suddenly can’t live without.