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The Foundry in Staunton offers safe space for budding entrepreneurs

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:34 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - A new business in the Shenandoah Valley is providing a safe space for budding entrepreneurs to get their products and creations out there.

The Foundry owner Jen Mulledy knew she wanted to be a small business owner, but she didn’t want to do it alone.

“Small business is extremely lonely,” said Mulledy. “You get a little customer chat time, but you don’t really have colleagues.”

Then the idea for The Foundry took shape.

“We’re a collection of pop-up shops, but at the heart of this we’re a retail incubator,” stated Mulledy.

She created a support system while sharing the risk.

“Such as signing a lease by yourself for multiple years. Taking out loans in the tens of thousands of dollars to fill out a space with inventory. Having to give up a full-time job to be here every single day,” said Mulledy.

She sells her upcycled products and home decor alongside several other shops like Brigitte Marie Fine Art. “I’m more artist less natural salesperson, so it’s exciting to have my stuff in a space that gets exposure but that I have help with the business side and the promotional side,” said artist Brigitte Huson.

Kathleen Garcia is filling a need selling art supplies. “I like working with people. I don’t really want to venture on my own. So it would be if there’s anything beyond this it would be a joint effort,” stated Garcia.

And mother-son duo Carolyn and Peyton Kenee of Four Hands Eight Paws, who design items to benefit local animal rescues, is already seeing a bump in sales.

“We’ve gotten a few online sales that I don’t think we probably would have gotten from people in Staunton doing a vacation and they look us up and place an order online,” said Carolyn Kenee.

But, this is a launchpad.

“We’re not gonna kick anybody out, but we want them to grow and branch out on their own,” said Mulledy.

The Foundry can be a temporary home for other entrepreneurs looking to test their ideas in a safe space.

“The amount of interest that we have had in this one little shop has been unbelievable. And that just tells me that there is a need for this in many locations,” stated Mulledy.

The Foundry hopes to fill that need by looking at other places to open up. Mulledy says they also hope to host classes and events in the future.

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