Adrianna Fie was so fascinated by food that she pursued a master’s degree in food studies from New York University, and when she moved to Madison, Wisconsin, she worked at the Kitchen Gallery, where she learned about all the accessories one can use in one, as a cheese manager at Metcalfe’s Market, and then she took a job at Butchery Underground to learn about meat. A little over two years ago, Fie took a trip to France, visiting several kitchen and food shops. Fie was so amazed by the amount of interesting products she couldn’t find in the United States that she created Flotsam + Fork, an ecommerce site dedicated to making them available outside of Europe. The Manual spoke with Fie about Flotsam + Fork, her travels, and the products Manual readers should scoop up.
Why did you feel that there is a need for a website like Flotsam + Fork?
I wanted to create Flotsam + Fork as a place for people to find products that are not easy to find in the United States, especially well-made products from companies with great stories or makers that I find inspiring.
What are some of your favorite discoveries while traveling?
Always the food! I love to visit markets and grocery stores, bakeries, butcher shops, everything!
I like to do some research before I go, but my favorite way to discover a place to to walk everywhere and peek into unique local shops– from hardware stores to inspiring design stores like Merci in Paris. As much as I love finding a new product, or beautiful packaging, the most memorable part of trips for me are the meals and market experiences.
What are some of the key qualities a product must have to be featured on Flotsam + Fork?
I want every Flotsam + Fork product to be well-made, classically and simply designed, and still affordable. Affordable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest option, but it will be something that you will want to keep forever.
I look for products that are still made in their home country, often by traditionally-minded companies that have made a decision to keep manufacturing locally, rather than outsourcing. It’s important for me to support these companies, and to provide information so that our customers know what they are supporting as well.
Are you planning to visit additional countries to look for products? Where and why?
I’m actually heading out on a scouting trip this week! We’re headed to the Netherlands, with a day trip detour over into Germany to visit a 200-year-old twine company and several linen weaving factories. I like my scouting trips to be an even mixture of research and random discovery, poking around kitchen shops and hardwares stores. In this case, Northwestern Germany has a long history of linen and textile manufacturing, and the Netherlands, is of course known for pottery, cheesemaking, and the De Stijl design movement.
What are some essentials for the homes of Manual readers?
My favorite things in the shop are some of the most functional, while still being beautiful. Manual readers should have the best clothespins in the world, this workhorse can opener for home or for picnics, a little sharpening stone for their pocket knife, and a drip-free olive oil can for kitchen or tabletop.
For more information, visit flotsamandfork.com.
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