Industrial Chic – The OG in Long Island City
An Interview with Allison DuVal
Why we love this venue
The Foundry is one of my favorite wedding venues. Way back when, when Rose Red & Lavender was brand new I met Alison at BizBash. BizBash is a trade show designed for event professionals and caters to a mostly corporate clientele. There are lots things like furniture that have backlighting and look like a late 90’s club, Drag Queens as waitresses and women walking around with skirt tables that you would never see at a wedding. Picture tons of plastic, vinyl, shiny stuff, novelties and glitz. Not my scene.
Anyhow, I was looking for wedding venues and for people that I could relate to and met Alison. She had a humble booth with a look-book of her new venue. I saw it, brick and urban decay made new again and repurposed. She told me that it was an old Iron Foundry that her family saved and turned into a venue, perhaps for weddings. This was in 2008 and the whole warehouse wedding trend had yet to emerge. I had to see it. I scheduled a tour of the Foundry and it was love at first sight. I loved the architecture, the preserved elements, the calmness and the attention to detail. There was so much love in that space, so much care and heart and soul that radiated throughout. I wanted to be in that space and knew that I could work with it and create some amazing installations there.
One of our first weddings was at the Foundry. A favorite bride of mine who specifically didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding and was striving to have her own voice hired us for her wedding at the Foundry. It was a lot of fun and I got to really play around with the space. Going to new venues is like trying on a new outfit or driving a new car. The Foundry, to me seems like a vintage Saab or Porsche, quirky in ways, but definitely stylish and unique. I love driving that venue.
Interview with Alison
KS: Hi Alison, could you give me a little background of your business
AD: The Foundry is a family business. My parents bought it when I was born in 1981.
It was an abandoned building in shambles, there was no roof, electricity or running water. We lived in a trailer in the courtyard.
“We lived in a trailer in the courtyard.”
My parents were landscape designers and gardeners for about 30 years.
KS: Wow, that must have been something, tell me about the neighborhood.
AD: Long Island City was very dangerous then, full of hookers and sketchy people. My parents fell in love with that building and renovated it. At first we didn’t know how to cultivate it properly as an event venue we hosted raves and parties and weddings for friends and families.
We had our first event in 2001. My parents turned over the event rental to me and trusted me to do the right thing.
KS: So where did you start?
AD: I looked out other locations for weddings. I googled the top 10 event spaces and used competitors as a model. I did research and even went undercover pretending to be a bride to see how other venues did it.
I really loved the space. In the beginning, our contract was 2 pages long. We learned a lot from our mistakes and experiences.
We really didn’t advertise much and attended trade shows like Bizbash.
KS What mistakes did you make?
AD: Allowing balloons in the space, there was a birthday party and all these balloons floated to the ceiling which is over 3 stories up from the floor. I had to tape broom sticks together to pop the balloons. Other things like s’mores and the mess they make. Imagine marshmallow footprints everywhere.
I learned how to not say yes to everything and how to stay no.
KS: What do you do in your downtime?
AD: I have a second home in Stone Ridge, I love cooking and entertaining. I have an eye for the senses and know how to bring the right balance of music, lighting, food and atmosphere to create a great party.
KS What have you learned about running a business?
In the beginning I wanted to control everything, it was hard to let go. It took awhile. We had several employees who were key to our growth. Jose Rolon who was married there as well as Julie Miller who now works at Convivial Catering. I more than happy to pass on a majority of weddings to Angela and Lindsey, they do a great job.
I mainly focus on film shoots and spend a lot of my time on building management. If we are booked 3-4 days in a row will step in to give the team a break.
KS What wakes you up at night?
AD Wondering if my staff is happy. My team is very important to me and I want to make sure that I take care of them. You are only as good as the people that are with you.
“You are only as good as the people that are with you.”
I really want to spoil them.
There are so many moving parts, 6:00am film shoots, events moving in and out and with the tenants and the people, tents and trucks, deliveries, pickups if one thing falls through it effects everything that takes place. There is an amazing amount of people coming and going and constant maintenance
KS What are your next steps?
AD I have a couple projects in the works. Right now we are designing a pergola for outside to create a porch structure in the courtyard.
I want to honor my parent’s vision. The Foundry was created with their passion and we take everything that make from the Foundry and invest it back into the building.
My father had the vision about what to do with the space. He has a creative mind.
KS What would you say your strengths are?
AD Knowing how to use spaces and entertaining is in my blood.
I have a 6th sense to make an environment perfect for everyone, how to create the energy and moments and make it feel right. You have to be passionate about it. You can’t fake it.
KS What about your competition? A lot of industrial type venues have opened in recent years.
AD Yes I know. Several of them have copied us everything from our website to our colleterial. What sets us apart is that we pay attention to details and that we really keep an eye on everything. There is a lot of care, love and attentions to details that goes into this space.
KS who are your clients?
AD for weddings, It used to be more DIY now it is more high end. Our rules are more strict than they were in the beginning. The environment is more strict. I will never forget a dry wedding that we had for a wealthy family from Saudi Arabia. I was nervous because I knew that everything had to be perfect from beginning to end.
Now our contract is several pages long. We do everything from film shoots to corporate parties and social events. This place has been made into so many countries.
For more information visit The Foundry