Anna Hillegass opened up her store, The Foundry Home Goods, in Minneapolis’s hot North Loop neighborhood to immediate success, building on her interior design background and love of all things that marry the useful with the beautiful. Here, she talks with us about how style and livability aren’t mutually exclusive—and how important human connection is to good design.
Describe your shop/style.
Unfussy and approachable. I am drawn to white and clean lines, but never in a way that wouldn’t feel inviting. I have white sofas and white everything, but I never notice people feeling afraid to snuggle up and get cozy in my spaces. Everything is durable, washable, and livable, but still grown up and classic. The shop and my style are completely entwined. I live above my shop, so it felt completely natural to curate it as an extension of my home. I wanted to find a niche that was immune to trends and felt approachable and attainable to all types of people. It’s not retail—it’s a place for honest, humble human connection.
How do you decide what makes the cut to be sold in your impeccable shop?
After attending one trade show, I made an unconscious decision to just let the universe guide me to cool people making great things. I started with my network of artistic family and friends, and asking lots of questions. Staying curious and open to leads about a new source. We get a lot of great connections from clients! We joke that the shop is the new “slow shopping” movement, because we are always carefully wrapping each little object and chatting away with our customers.
You carry many handmade goods in your shop. What is important to you about buying handmade, whether local or from a co-op in Africa?
I’m really tough on things. It’s the farm girl in me. I’ve found that the simple, handcrafted objects are the ones that stand up to years of use and are also a pleasure to live with day in and day out. And if the object happens to break one day….say the kid knocks your teacup off the counter or your puppy chews up your basket, you can find comfort in the fact that these objects made from natural materials will one day break down after you throw it away. I love the cycle of handmade, natural items coming from the earth and heading back there someday after a lifetime of being used and loved by someone…connecting people to people and natural materials back to nature.
What do you love most about helping people decorate their homes?
Helping people find their “spirit fit” as my friend/stylist Karyn Starr always says. Finding ways that help people find the joy in their homes and helping them feel connected and totally in sync with the place. It’s more about distilling the best parts of them rather than just infusing what I think looks nice.
Besides buying and selling locally made goods, how do you find ways to connect to your local community?
I was inspired last year after the Terracotta Warriors came to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. To promote this exhibit, they handed out wooden warriors that people hid all over the city, snapping photos of the tiny warriors in funny places. I would find them all over. A lot of them ended up arriving at the shop. I started putting daffodils in the shop just for fun at the beginning, because the spring felt like it would never come, but then I started to give the little guys away in these tiny terracotta pots that my mom gave me. After a few days of giving them away and seeing how happy they were making people, I ordered tons of them, and came up with the hashtag #daffodilbomb so we could track where they ended up. We are now making it a March tradition! It’s fun to give things away in a retail shop. People don’t expect it, and it really lifts the spirits in the neighborhood with our clients.
Tell us about your favorite J.W. Hulme product picks.
I’m always the one in the grocery line packing two bags worth of groceries in her purse when I forget my canvas shopping totes. I shudder at excessive packaging, and I would rather stuff my pockets and purse with my purchases rather than take a disposable bag. So the J.W. Hulme picks on the top of my list are the Morgan Satchel in the Heritage Saddle leather, the Classic Large Legacy Handbag in Brown, the Black Legacy Tote and for lighter days, the Medium Legacy handbag in the new cream or coral. I like to have my hands free for hugging friends and holding a drink!