Erin Duininck | Golden Rule


Golden Rule

Erin Duininck



"GOLDEN RULE is the contents of my heart and mind spilled out into a room. It’s everything I love and believe in. And an idea I remind myself to live up and into. The path that got me here is winding to say the least, but I can trace it back to where it began as I realize one of my favorite games to play as a 3 year old was “Gallery.” I would hang up my artwork in the stairwell of our apartment building and invite everyone to come look at it."


What inspired you to start your business?

Without going into too much detail, I was singing and writing with Caitlyn Smith in 2006/2007. We were playing out all over Minneapolis as The Cates. I was channeling all my grief and hope into the music, healing from a divorce, and learning to be a single mother. After Ben and I got engaged in 2008 and started a new life together in Excelsior, the late night gig life lost its luster and felt impractical as my daughter was entering school. I sort of felt I had said all I needed to say, that to repeat myself or sing songs that felt less relevant didn’t seem authentic. So I went back to my old jewelry making hobby and took up sewing as well. I opened up a little gallery in the guest house on our property in 2010 and reached out to local artists I admired and offered to show and sell their work at no commission.  We were trying to expand our family during this time but suffered a number of losses and heartbreaks as we went through infertility treatments. I threw myself into my work, learning on the fly. After a particularly devastating loss and some personal health issues, I decided to make the gallery more official and turn it into a pop-up downtown Excelsior. It was meant to last three months, but it turned into a year and a half. All the while I had this very lovely piece of typography by Krista of Armed Creative taped up next to my computer screen that simply read “The Golden Rule.”  We suffered another blow with a life threatening ectopic pregnancy and something in me changed. I wouldn’t say I gave up so much as tried to accept that I needed to put my energy into something I had more control over. I knew that I needed to birth something and if it wasn’t going to be a baby, it was going to be a proper shop. I mustered up all my love and frustration and attempted to build something beautiful with my pain. Somehow that postcard had seeped into my being and became the most obvious name and theme.


Three words to describe your company’s vibe.

Open. Intentional. Strict.

I read my answer to this question to my right-hand-woman at the shop - Monica. She laughed at my answer and gave her own. She added cheerful, thoughtful, and meaningful.


What is the favorite thing about your workspace?

I adore being surrounded by art and thoughtful people! What could be better?


What’s on your studio playlist?

The playlist is such a large part of the aesthetic at GOLDEN RULE. I take it as seriously as I take the art on the walls and products that we sell. Everything I play is intentional. The rule is that if you don’t know what to play, put on Paul Simon’s Graceland. Classic.


If you had one piece of advice for someone starting a business, what would it be?

Pause and search your heart. Be quiet and listen for that still small voice that tells you what you already know. Then trust yourself and leap.

The more honest and authentic you’re able to be, the more you’ll attract that same kind of person to come alongside you and make your business that much better.


What do you think is the best kept secret in business tools or resources?

LAB! And general artistic collaboration.


How and where do you see growth for your business?

Everywhere. Meaning that the work is never done. It’s always moving parts, progress and growing to fit my needs and those of the community. I don’t adhere to a strict plan. I try to make the best of what’s in front of me over and over without asking for a specific result.


What is the biggest challenge facing small businesses?

The necessity to wear all the hats whether they fit or not.


Dream collaboration.

Joni Mitchell or Joan Didion.


Advice to my 2017 self.

Let it be.


Trend you love.

Color. Lush plants. Velvet.


Trend you are over.

Cold shoulders. Lace up necks. Adding “AF” to everything.


Favorite place to go outside of the Twin Cities.

Wales! The most underrated country I’ve traveled to so far.


Instagram accounts you love to see in your feed.




I really love watching @LizWell and @EREYaYouKnowMe stories. I could watch Liz eat in her car and Emily wash her face endlessly. Serious.