Debra Williams is one of the most loyal members of The Foundery, joining on the 6th day it was open! She uses it for two purposes: to remodel furniture for her home, and more importantly, to work on her new business, Campus Canopies. Her favorite part of The Foundery are the tools that she uses to develop her products and the knowledgeable experts who are on hand to answer all of her questions.


Debra outside of the Foundery with some chairs she remodeled


          When Debra first walked in the doors of the Foundery, she took a tour and was thrilled by the space. She became a member immediately and soon became a regular. She took classes like metal-working, wood-working, sewing, and powder coating to familiarize herself with the tools and equipment at the Foundery, and she uses two Foundery computers in her work space to do market research for her company.

          “Working at the Foundery gives me separation between my home and my work,” Debra says. “After thirty years of being a stay-at-home mom, I love having a place to go to work that is so inspiring.”

          Debra’s new company, Campus Canopies, began when she took her oldest child to boarding school. While doing back-to-school shopping, she saw a window display that was being taken down. The display included a set of long bamboo poles. “I have an idea,” Debra told her daughter. She purchased the poles. When they arrived at the school, she turned them into a canopy for her daughter’s dorm room bed, attaching chic curtains on the sides for privacy. Her daughter and daughter’s friends all loved it.

          Last Fall, when her youngest child matriculated at the University of Maryland, College Park, Debra built her second canopy, this time using poles from Home Depot and fabric from J.C. Penny (see photo below). The canopy attracted a lot of attention. Her daughter loved it, and her daughter’s roommates said, “I want one, too.” At that point, Debra realized she was onto a new idea, and a business was born. “There is an unmet need for privacy in student dorm rooms,” Debra says. “Campus Canopies is a game changer for students. Our mission is to inspire campus interiors and give students privacy.”

One of the original campus canopies at the University of Maryland

One of the original campus canopies at the University of Maryland


          A key resource at the Foundery is the friendly and dedicated staff. Debra says they can answer, or find the answer, to almost any of the questions she has. “The Foundery’s motto is ‘Learn, Build, Teach,’” Debra says. “The Foundery has served me in all three areas.”

          Debra knows that she’s not the typical person to walk into the doors of the Foundery, but she’s always welcome. She plans to launch Campus Canopies officially in the next 6 months, just in time for back-to-school shopping. Check out Campus Canopies on Instagram here!