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 in an airy light-filled Tangletown studio to catch up with shop manager Stephanie and talk about the magic of green things, the transportive power of the Minneapolis parks system, and the star-crossed love of a dog called Birdie.
The Foundry Home Goods: Where are you right now?
Stephanie: I am in my home studio...it's actually pretty dreamy. It's on the 2nd floor of my house and three of the walls are windows. My house is about 100 years old, built some time in the 1920's, and this room was built as an addition maybe 30-40 years ago. It was listed as a "bedroom" but it gets incredible morning light and feels more like a 'studio' to me than a bedroom. Not so good for sleeping late, but it definitely gives it an inspirational energy that lends itself to being creative. I'm a landscape and garden designer, that's my other full-time profession outside of The Foundry, and I use this room predominantly for creating designs and exploring my own art.
TFHG: What do you love about landscape design + architecture? Did it choose you or did you choose it?
S: I grew up in California, on the Central Coast, and I initially thought that I'd go to school and study viticulture and enology—growing grapes and making wine. I was equal parts fascinated by the scientific and the artistic side of this industry. But something didn't feel quite right.
As I started taking classes, I realized it wasn't for me and that's when I was introduced to landscape design and I immediately made the switch, packed my bags and moved to Oregon...it was a total gut reaction. I based my decision on my intuition rather than logic. So I guess in that way, it chose me.
What I love about landscape design is how every project is different and there are so many components at play that require consideration: balancing the rhythms of the natural world, the seasons, the climate, etc. and also accounting for the human component and the cultural component of the landscape. There's such a beautiful conversation at play with how we live and interact in a considered outdoor space. You want that synthesis to flow together in a way that creates this cohesive outcome that ideally benefits everyone. You have to think intentionally about how a human experiences a space, how a plant experiences a space, how an animal might experience a space when you consider altering it. After all, our decisions and choices directly impact the world around us and we can all be empowered to be more thoughtful architects of those choices. Especially when it comes to the natural world and those that inhabit it.
That's something that has felt really familiar to me working with The Foundry, it was very clear that we shared so many of the same values, both from a business ethos perspective and the care that goes into selecting products. All of the angles are considered: the impact that any one thing has on the people purchasing them, the people making them, and on the world at large.
TFHG: So how did you find your way to Minneapolis from California and make your way to The Foundry?
S: My parents and grandparents are originally from Minnesota and I grew up here for the early part of my life until we moved to the west coast where I spent my formative years. After I graduated college (studying landscape architecture at the University of Oregon in Eugene) I was drawn back to MPLS by a job offer. Initially I was splitting my time between California and Minnesota and eventually decided to settle in Minneapolis for the time being. That was almost 8 years ago.
I was introduced to The Foundry world through Two Pony, my grandmother actually used to babysit [Anna's mom] Lisa way back in the day! When I moved back, she told me about Lisa and the farm and the things they were doing out there and I went out to see their gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and their dahlias and it wasn't until years later that I realized the connection. I had moved a few blocks away from the Tangletown shop location and I stumbled into the shop and was like "what IS this place!?... I don't know how I can be a part of it but I want to!" As most people do. I reached out and sent them my resume 'for whenever you have an opening' and then literally forgot about it. Then Lillian reached out in the summer of 2021. I was knee deep in building my own business and I was like "I don't know what this will look like but yeah, OF COURSE, let's see what happens and we'll figure it out!" It was an easy decision, again, one based on something feeling right.
TFHG: What was it like moving from the west coast back to Minnesota?
S: Bittersweet. California, the West, is my home. However, there's something really special about this northern part of the country. The extreme ebb and flow of the seasons and life here really puts everything in a different perspective than I'd considered before. And working with plants, that difference is palpable so it's hard not not pay attention.
Plants are one of my love languages and while it was tough downsizing my palette from living on the west coast, there's something very powerful about how deeply the seasons are felt here and how the plant life responds to it. Fall in Minnesota and the deciduous trees in particular paint the landscape in this really vivid and warm palette that you don't see quite as intensely in a more temperate area. And what really ends up showing through and standing out in a more distinct way is the structure of those deciduous trees in the winter landscape paired with the constancy of the evergreen trees...there's just a different kind of beauty that shows through during these times of year that's worth paying attention to.
And while winter is (obviously) a big deal, another very special thing about Minneapolis is how green it is. The attention paid to the parks and trail systems, the access to the lakes, and the maintenance of these natural places and spaces is unique...the city had done such an incredible job connecting the humans to the natural world within a very urban environment. I feel very fortunate to live in a city with these types of amenities.
TFHG: There she is! Now, tell us about Birdie.
S: Birdie is a standard poodle, she is two years old and she is the love of my life. (ha! no seriously....haha!) My husband and I adopted her from an assistance dog training program after she had a... "career change." It turns out that she is very particular about the company she keeps and while I can deeply relate to that, it's not the best trait for an assistance dog. She is the first dog I've ever had as an adult and I just get this feeling of deep joy being around her. She's the best.
TFHG: A poodle! Does she have a special haircut?
S: We keep her hair cut in a very non-poodly kind of way. The groomers call it a "puppy cut", so a lot of times she gets confused with a doodle. Her hair is particularly long right now because of the cold and she looks like a little black bear.
TFHG: Do you think she'll become a "shopdog"?
S: She'll visit the shop just to pop by but she's never really come in and spent the day with me while I'm working (I've definitely got some amazing poodle pictures, though). She's loyal and fun and funny and incredibly smart. In some ways she's very much cut out to be a shopdog BUT sometimes I think she'd really rather be outside and not competing for anyone else's attention.
TFHG: What is your favorite Foundry daily?
S: In my creative work something that has played a BIG role is the Beam Paints. Talk about working with something that comes straight from the earth and has been curated in this extremely thoughtful full circle sort of way! Their pigments are stunning and so beautiful to work with. I use them (and the little palettes) in final renderings in my designs and just for fun.
With watercolors, in particular, they kind of force you to get out of your own way. If you have a specific vision, you can implement tricks to try and get the results you're looking for, but ultimately they have a mind of their own and you have to work with them and let them lead. This medium opens up a world of possibilities by sort of forcing you to go with the flow and not just create what you think you already know. It's very freeing.
TFHG: What's always in your bag or pocket?
S: I don't often carry a bag or purse, but when I do I have chapstick always, a pen and sketchbook and usually a book.
TFHG: What are you reading?
S: "The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah. If I'm not reading something about the natural world, I'm usually reading historical fiction this one is about dust bowl-era America.
TFHG: What are you currently coveting from The Foundry?
S: I'm eagerly awaiting spring flowers from our garden so I currently have my eye on a bud vase from our mexican recycled glass line. Flowers take a little longer to get started here and a vase like this makes just a single bloom feel like a breath of fresh air.
TFHG: Oh MAN. We bet as a landscape architect your personal home garden is something else...
S:We bought our house in the summer of 2020 and we spent a lot of time on the interior the first year and are just now starting to transition to working outside.
The garden itself was a pretty blank slate. There was a lot of lawn that we've slowly converted to various garden spaces and this summer I'm excited to build a few raised veggie beds. I can't wait for summertime picnics sitting under the twinkle lights watching the sun set sipping wine in our backyard in a very french countryside kind of way, haha! Our little slice of paradise.
As I mentioned, our house is over 100 years old and when we moved in we were given this log of the past families who lived here, documenting what had been done to the house in the past. After reading through this history, it gives you a feeling that you're a steward of this place for as long as you're here. We're approaching our time in this house with a mindset of how can we continue to care for this and nurture it, both the physical house structure and the surrounding landscape, as something you feel really good and proud to pass off to someone who might take up ownership after you. This last year we went big and planted four new trees—being very aware that those choices will not only benefit us now but would affect how people will live in and with this house for generations to come. Yes, I'm excited about spring bulbs and summer flowers and evening parties, of course, but I'm also excited to be a part of laying the groundwork for future families as well. What an honor and a privilege.
Thank you so much, Stephanie! We are so thrilled to have you as a part of our Foundry Family!