When I first walked into the Foundrie, I was struck with just how cool a shop it is. Not just cool, but rich…like a dark chocolate mousse, or the smell of aged and oiled leather. There’s a feeling of caring craftsmanship that permeates the whole shop, from the window dressings all the way down to the smallest handmade item. Wait! Did I say Handmade!? Why yes I did! Our friends at the Foundrie stock all local handmade and vintage items.
Recently, they decided to move to a new storefront in Chesterfield mall, and (from what I could see by peeking through the windows) it is going to be even better than before! I thought it would be great if I could tear Shelah McClymont away from preparations for the grand opening on April 18th to ask her 17 questions about herself, the shop, the community, and of course Star Wars.
How did you come up with the name for The Foundrie?
I wanted a name that helped convey that we sell found/vintage items and a carefully curated selection of handmade wares. A foundry is typically a place that makes metal castings and parts so I thought the name was fitting. However I didn’t like the way Foundry looked so I chose to spell it Foundrie instead. Then I searched for the domain name and once I found that it was available, I knew I had a winner.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade for me has a more broad definition than it did several years ago. To me handmade is something that is being independently produced by a single person or a small group of people using handmade elements in their products. It is people using their creativity and drive to carve this niche for themselves in the business world and I am so proud to be a part of this community of people.
What do you enjoy most about selling your handmade goods?
The opportunity to connect with like minded individuals who want to support local artists and small business owners.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade?
Being involved in the handmade movement over the past 5+ years has honestly shaped my path in life and allowed me to pursue my dreams of owning my own business. Without handmade and a following of great people wanting to buy handmade to support local artists and designers, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love for a living.
What do you think differentiates crafting from other types of business?
The crafting “community” is much less cut throat than other types of business and we all want to see each other succeed. There is a lot of sharing of information and resources and cross-promotion to help ensure success for everyone who wants to be involved.
What personality Trait do you possess that you think helps you the most as a professional crafter?
Stubbornness? Or I guess a gentler word might be tenacity? I like to do things my own way and I always have. Working for others has always been a challenge for me and although I learned so much as a visual merchandiser for big box stores I am so happy to be my own boss these days.
I noticed that you carry both Handmade and Vintage goods in your shop. What do you think it is about these things that make them go so well together?
People who appreciate handmade items like the one-of-a-kind nature of these products and I think vintage items are the same way. When you find something vintage you never know if you will ever see another like it and you love the uniqueness of the item. It is also a way to keep parts of our history alive and buying vintage is about as eco-friendly as you can get, which is super appealing to the handmade shopper.
You have a great storefront, but you also pack up and take the show on the road to do shows. How are the two different, other than the obvious change of venue?
It is always a challenge to scale back our displays and booth setup since we are spoiled to having the space, tools, and time to create amazing in store displays. But we love traveling like gypsies from show to show and getting to meet new people, spend time with crafty friends, and find new handmade product for the shop so we keep applying to bigger shows and always do a little happy dance when we get an acceptance email. Our next big show is Renegade Craft fair in Brooklyn, NY this June and we can’t wait!!
How do you find and/or select new artists?
As mentioned above we scout artists at craft shows and we also stalk Etsy and invite favorite artists to apply to consign. A lot of artists come to us through our website and friends who help spread the word when our applications are open for consignment.
When selecting artists to consign have you ever come across an application that made you go “What the, what?!”
Of course. That is the nature of “art”. Everyone has their own aesthetic and sometimes it isn’t what we have in mind or our shop. All art has it’s place but you have to work hard to find the place where it fits and will sell. We had a painter/sculptor apply recently and although their pieces were cool and interesting it didn’t fit in with the aesthetic of our shop and the price points being between $500 and $1500 were just too expensive for a shop in a mall. Their reply to not being accepted was, “You fools. Your loss.” That had us much more shocked than anything so far.
Running a store front sounds like a lot of work. Do you still find time to make anything yourself?
It is a lot of work. I find myself working on my own jewelry in the couple of days leading up to a big craft show because when you have the expenses of traveling and booth fees the only way to make your money back is to sell your own work. And then I get to bring the leftover inventory back to sell in the shop so it all works out pretty well.
Do you have any short-term goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 10?
I am definitely a one day at a time kind of gal and thinking too far in the future freaks me out a bit. Our short term goal is to get the store re-opened in our new location by April 18th. This summer we are looking to hire a couple of interns to help grow our business. I think we just want to take it slow and steady and see where this road takes us. I hope 10 years from now I am still doing what I love surrounded by a supportive group of friends and family.
Where can we find out more about the Foundrie, your artists and show schedule?
Our website is being updated as we speak but you can always find all of the info at http://www.thefoundrie.com.
If you could go back and do it over again, what would you do differently?
Not a thing. I feel like everything is a learning process and a chance to evaluate past decisions and experiences and use them as a platform for change and growth.
Thanks so much for taking a minute to talk with us today, Shelah! We’re all looking forward to checking out the new shop on its grand opening on the 18th!