While adorable dogs, the magical smell of beeswax candles, and oodles of gorgeous glassware are pretty darn nice, the thing that REALLY makes The Foundry feel like home is our family. Well-made objects of beauty and use make the daily rhythms of life more pleasant + effortless but, like in any home, it's the people inside that really make it glow.
Since not all of you live within striking distance of our real-life shop, we wanted to bring our Foundry Family magic to you (if we close our eyes and *wish* it will almost be like we all live together on the same block). This week, we're sitting down on the sunny porch of our brand new shop to catch up with behind-the-scenes 'ship maven and photography magic-maker Becky to talk about houseplant spreadsheets, weekly homemade kimchi deliveries, and giving the most-improved-in-show award to her beloved Samoyed, San.
The Foundry Home Goods: Where are you right now?
Becky: I'm on the new front porch! We just got some new tables out here and it's pretty dreamy. The photography studio is currently in the basement and I thought: this is the perfect excuse to spend a little time in the sunshine today!
TFHG: How did you find your way to Minneapolis?
B: I grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, which is maybe like 20 minutes outside of town? Just north of the city. I went to U of M for college. I've always loved this city and after being in Minneapolis for school, it felt right to stay. Right now we are in Golden Valley, which is juuuuust enough outside the city that it feels a little too far to bike in.
We actually moved into our current house in March of 2020, literally the day before everything shut down. I love the neighborhood because it's really windy, with twisty turny streets. You can really kind of get lost in it, not like a grid at all. It's an older-ish neighborhood, in an area with a lot of midcentury-looking houses.
TFHG: Does your house have a midcentury vibe?
B: Kind of...I think *technically* it was built at the end of the midcentury era, in 1964, and I definitely lean into that when I'm decorating. Honestly, we didn't really choose the house because of its style or architecture, but mostly because it has THE nicest kitchen and a pretty great big backyard. We like to cook a lot and I like to eat a lot and the kitchen is definitely pretty crucial in that regard. And we have a dog, so the backyard with the fence was really important.
TFHG: What do you like to cook?
B: I used to cook a lot more, but my husband, Steve, is a computer engineer/manager who works mostly at home these days. Since he's there more consistently, he has a mind on whatever's happening in the kitchen...AND he's an amazing cook! We cook a lot of Korean food, a lot of soups, an amazing fermented soybean soup and my favorite: kimchi soup (kimchi jjigae). We'll make a big huge pot of it and it just keeps getting better and weirder over time.
Steve's mom makes us all of our kimchi and side dishes. She'll bring over a giant jar of kimchi every few weeks. When she was younger, growing up in Korea, her mother and grandmother owned and ran a little family shop that sold banchan, which is what all of the Korean side dishes are called. It was like a little stall that had the best side dishes and people would stop there on their way home and pick up their sides for dinner. Her banchan are the best. As a Korean Adoptee, having so much Korean food in my daily life is extra special.
Homemade cucumber kimchi banchan
TFHG: That sounds amazing. And because you know we love to know this kind of thing: what kind of jar does she transport the kimchi in?
B: There are specific modern containers for kimchi (and sauerkraut), and you can usually find them in the back of Korean grocery stores, with the kitchen stuff. We have a few good Korean grocery stores in Minnesota, but Chicago is the closest really big Korean grocery store and you can get these really big tubs there. They have a special top that pushes down and seals everything and makes sure everything is in the brine. A large glass jar works too! Steve's mom has a whole fridge in her basement just for kimchi and she definitely shows her love through food. The jar is love.
Making homemade kimchi.
TFHG: How did you find your way to The Foundry?
B: I first found the Foundry when it was in the original North Loop location, I'm pretty sure Ruby was outside the shop, so I went to meet Ruby, and followed her inside the shop and was like: woah. This is the place. I'd pop into the shop through the years, it's definitely my favorite store...I actually applied a couple times because I really wanted to work here. Those positions didn't end up working out at the time, but my role now actually feels like a dream come true that came about at the right time...which is so great.
TFHG: How would you describe what you do now?
B: I used to do a little bit of nitty gritty work in the 'ship, receiving and packing (which really appeals to my spreadsheet side) but my now main focus is photography. I studied photography at the U of M and then worked professionally for 8-9 years as an event photographer and doing portraiture. It can be really hard for artists to find sustaining work in their field, you know? I really love what I get to do with The Foundry and that I'm able to combine a bunch of things that I love. We are just getting the photography studio set up at the new space and I get to sort of drive the how and why of that space. I actually don't have a ton of studio photography experience, so it's been a pleasure to be able to expand my knowledge base on that too.
TFHG: In addition to taking new photos, you've also been doing some incredible work organizing The Foundry historical photo archive (i.e. making it possible for us to actually locate *that exact photo of Ruby with a meatball on her head from 2014*). When you were doing all of that super comprehensive spreadsheet work you mentioned that you also have a spreadsheet for your houseplants. Can you tell us a little more about that?
THE PLANT ROOM.
B: Ha! I actually have a lot of spreadsheets for home stuff...indoor plants and outdoor plants and house projects. I'm kind of a plant collector, I have a spreadsheet of all the different indoor plants organized by scientific name and light that they need and soil that they need so I can keep track of what I have and what it requires. I actually have a plant room, with my desk and stuff. The room has one south facing window, which is super helpful, and I also have a glass cabinet that I've converted to a little greenhouse with a grow light.
I collect a lot of vining varieties and plants with more rare colors and variegation. I do get a lot of plants from online plant groups and they get shipped to me. I usually start with baby plants. I've maybe bought one or two plants ever that are full-sized ones from a nursery? I usually start with cuttings. Watching them go from a leaf to plant is so wonderful.
TFHG: Always be propagating?
B: Oh, yeah. I'm always propagating something.
TFHG: So you have your indoor plant room, what's happening outside?
B: I have a vegetable garden around the sides of the house, and I have a lot of ornamental perennials around the house. I love hostas and have a lot of them. They are so low maintenance and easy to divide and share. What more could you ask for? The backyard doesn't have a ton of plantings because that's mostly San's domain.
San, master of backyard domain/maximum mandu dumpling self control.
TFHG: TELL US ABOUT SAN!
B: Oh gosh. San. He just turned two! He's a Samoyed, big fluffy, very energetic and friendly. We're actually trying to show him! He's trying to be a show dog but he doesn't have any experience. We just came back from a dog show in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He came in last but he did great. It's a very weird thing that we never thought we'd be into but we like it.
TFHG: Oh, wow. Is it like "Best In Show"?!
B: Ha! Thankfully, no. I've watched "Best in Show", and I haven't met anyone (yet) who is like that! Everyone is very relaxed and they just want to have fun. And it's not fancy at all, the shows are, like, in a convention center or at a random fairground.
TFHG: Are you the person who leads San around the ring?
B: NO. Our breeder used to do it, but then every time San went out there he kept pulling on the lead and kept trying to pull towards us. She said he just loves us a lot and wants to be by mom and dad and he might do better if we show him...but I get so nervous and San would sense my nervousness and then HE would get nervous, so sort of at the last minute Steve just decided to go out and show him and everyone did SO good. Steve had never had dogs, and I had had a westie growing up...but this is our first dog. I don't think if you had asked me: 'in five years will Steve be running the ring with our showdog?' I ever would have said yes, but, here we are. It's just so fun.
Steve showing San!!
His full name is "Hallasan", which is a significant volcanic mountain in Korea. People call him "San", which means "Mountain" in Korean...and, like a snowy mountain, he is definitely big, white, and fluffy. A mountain of a dog. (Foundry Note: for those needing more San love a.k.a. all of us, you can find him here: @santhesamoyed)
TFHG: Has San ever considered being a shopdog?
B: I would love for him to be a shopdog, but he's still a bit of a puppy. He's come in a couple of times and gets really excited. Samoyeds are working dogs (like: herding and sled pulling, NOT retail) and if he doesn't know why he's supposed to be somewhere and what his purpose is there, he gets really antsy. Someday when he's a little bit older and calms down a bit I think he could make a great shopdog. He'd have to learn from the best, of course.
San, maintaining the perimeter safe from wolves working at The Foundry 'ship shipping center.
TFHG: Tell us about working with wood?
B: I've been learning woodworking from my grandpa and my dad. My grandpa, my mom's dad, was a carpenter for the city here, he built the airport and big apartments back in the day, and my dad and his dad also did a lot of creative woodworking, toys and bookshelves and stuff like that, I've been learning from them about that. It's sloooowly turning into building stuff for the home. Originally I wanted to make furniture and I might get there, but as we've been making our house more into a home, there are specific projects that have been speaking to me, so I've been more into making stuff in that direction.
Becky's Dad + Grandad in the basement shop they all share.
My grandfather let me build a shop in his basement. He's 90 and he has a lot of random techniques that he throws out to you...My parents just bought his house last month, so they're all living there together and the shop is there. It's a mixture of my grandfather and father's tools and we finished the space together. It was an unfinished basement, so we put the sheetrock in there and mudded it together, and there's a LOT of tools in there now. I started out carving spoons because I loved the connectivity of hand-and-work, but now I love a good power tool too.
A Becky-carved swoon spoon.
TFHG: What is your favorite thing from The Foundry that you have?
B: This is so random, but I really love the German Cleaning Cloths. I use those a lot, and I like to clean. Any time I've ever used one to clean up stuff...it just works. With San around, it feels like there's always dirt and mud on everything and those cloths never feel like it's just smearing it around, it's like: this thing is getting it CLEAN. It does exactly what it's supposed to do and that is super satisfying.
TFHG: What is your current Foundry "Covet"?
B: OH BEDDING. FOR SURE, BEDDING. That is the next thing I've got my eye on. Linen sheets and a linen duvet cover. My first thought is: white, but I feel like I would also love the grey with the pinstripe.
TFHG: What are you having for dinner tonight?
B: We are actually having friends over! We do dinners with our friends where we go back and forth who hosts and tonight is our turn. We're doing Korean BBQ...if you haven't had it it's so good and easy for a group: grilling meat on a skillet wrapped with a lettuce leaf, you put ssamjang pepper paste and garlic and rice and you wrap it up and shove the whole thing in your mouth.
TFHG: We will let you go, then! But one last question: are you more of a Ruby or a San?
B: OH, WOW. I am FOR SURE a Ruby. Ruby, I love Ruby. When she's in the shop I just love to sit and pet her. I love when she's laying in cubbies or corners in the bed, she's calm and makes everyone else feel calm, and I think I bring a lot of that presence to a room.
Becky + Ruby!
San on the other hand is like a tornado in the room, he wants to say hi to everyone, he has lots of energy. So, Ruby for me, for sure!
Thank you so much, Becky! We are beyond thrilled to have you as a part of our Foundry Family!