Eight University of Iowa student-led businesses will open Foundry IRL, a collaborative retail and event space, next month at Iowa River Landing in Coralville.
Foundry IRL will offer sustainable object and furniture designs by Vako Design, streetwear collections by Almvghty, Elevated Supply Co. and Kulture Vaccine, accessories by Conquer Accessories, Yiran Li Design and Wanderlust Wraps, and on-site cellular phone repair by Parametecs.
The companies emerged from the Founders Club, an incubator for student-led businesses within the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center based on the University of Iowa Campus.
While each business has established a customer following through online retail, social media and local pop-up shops, Foundry IRL will represent the initial brick-and-mortar retail space for most of the companies.
The concept of Foundry IRL originated with Deanna Trumbull, an Iowa City real estate developer who served as a mentor for several student-led business developing retail products.
Trumbull approached the city of Coralville to propose that Iowa River Landing — which is owned by the city — lease space to a collaborative of start-up businesses.
“A number of cities are making shared spaces for local products a key feature of retail development,” Trumbull said in a news release.
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“This mix of edgy start-ups alongside major national brands makes for an exciting visitor experience, and highlights Iowa’s creative energy.”
Through Foundry IRL, it is hoped the student-led businesses will gain exposure to a broad demographic, and the opportunity to partner with neighboring national brands on special events and community engagement.
The eight UI student entrepreneurs also will gain hands-on experience in floor design, merchandising, promotions, event management and customer service.
Patrick Hagan of Almvghty said the design of the store is one of its best features.
“It was a fun challenge to unify diverse businesses into a cohesive, design-forward atmosphere,” Hagan said.