Gift Guides

Our Guide to Fifth Anniversary Gifts: Knock on Wood

July 21, 2017

Your fifth anniversary is a big milestone, and one you should celebrate happily—after all, you’re 1/10 of the way to year 50! But it’s not time to start giving gold yet; on the contrary, “wood” is the word for your fifth year together, and, if you’re feeling kinda modern, so is “silverware.” With so many options for wooden gifts—from furniture to cutting boards to Jenga to, well, trees—it can be difficult to sift through your options and choose something that’s sure to speak to your spouse. That’s where we come in, with an uncommon spin on ten traditional fifth anniversary gift ideas, like clocks, cutting boards, picture frames, and wall art… plus, as always, one modern-themed gift to quench your thirst for the contemporary. Read on below.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Fourth Anniversary Gifts: A Fresh Take on Fruits and Flowers

July 18, 2017

 

Four years in and the Fs keep coming, by which, of course, we mean “fruit” and “flowers,” the two alliterative gifts traditionally given to mark your fourth anniversary. “But wait,” you stammer. “You sell fresh fruit?” Well, no. “And fresh flowers?” Again—negatory. Could we rightfully call ourselves uncommon if we sold stuff you could get at your nearest corner store? I think not. All the more reason why the fruity, flowery gifts we do sell, from pens made with rose petals, seeds, and stems to copper cuffs covered in layers of specially dried and thinly sliced fruit, are so special. Read on for ten of our top fourth anniversary picks—five floral, five fruity—and, as always, one additional pick for our modern cohorts. (This time, you get your very own appliance.)

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The Uncommon Life

Happy “B” Day to Us! Celebrating 10 Years as a B Corp

July 16, 2017

Throughout the month, we are celebrating our 10th “B” Day! (Not to be confused with the birth of our company that happened waaay back in 1999.) Our “B” Day commemorates our official initiation into the B Corp community, a community of businesses that have successfully passed a B Corp Assessment. The assessment scores companies on how they’re building better businesses by taking care of their workers, their customers, the community, and the environment. In 2007, we stood with 42 other companies and signed a declaration of interdependence proclaiming our mission to use our company as a force for good. Over the next few weeks we’ll be celebrating this in ways that relate to all of the key areas that are measured by B Lab (the non-profit that is in charge of the B Corp Assessment and the certification process). In honor of this exciting anniversary, we’re taking a look back on what’s happened through the years with our B Corp score, the B Corp movement, and to throw in a little extra fun, the world at large over this decade-long stretch.

2007:

B Corp: And so it begins! Our first Impact score: 97
UG: In searching for an assessment process to internally audit our practices to show that we are practicing what we preach in terms of our societal and environmental commitments, our founder and CEO, Dave Bolotsky, committed UncommonGoods to be a founding B Corp. We’re one of 43 companies to be recognized with this distinction.
And also this: The seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series is released.

2008:

B Corp: The first B Corp Champions Retreat is hosted in California.
UG: We say so long to Manhattan and complete our move to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
And also this: Barack Obama is elected, becoming the first person of color to serve as president of the United States.

2009:

B Corp: The number of certified B Corps grew to 205 in 54 industries in 28 states.
UG: We make it Facebook official.
And also this: Water is discovered on the moon.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Third Anniversary Gifts: A Love as Tough as Leather

July 13, 2017

You’re three years in, and the gifts you’re picking are getting a bit more sturdy—just like the foundation of your relationship. In the latest installment of our series of guides to picking anniversary gifts, we’re tackling leather, the material traditionally used to toast your third anniversary… in theory, anyway. Here at UncommonGoods, we actually don’t sell any products that contain leather, feathers, or fur, thanks in part to our vegetarian founder, Dave Bolotsky. Thankfully, we carry plenty of animal-friendly goods made from sturdy vegan leather alternatives, some as innovative as dried-and-dyed strips of orange peel. Check out some of our top picks to celebrate your third anniversary in conscious style below, plus one bonus selection for the modern-minded among us.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Rich McCor

July 12, 2017

Londoner Rich McCor has quite a few followersan impressive 301k at the time of this writing, in fact. Known to many as @paperboyo, Rich first began to rise in the Instagram ranks in the fall of 2015, when the online arm of UK paper the Daily Mail ran an article highlighting some of his most remarkable snapshots. The angle? Armed only with craft knives and his imagination, Rich turns sheets of paper into intricate cut-outs that he then holds before time-honored landmarks, putting a new, improved, and fleeting twist on otherwise familiar scenes.

Somewhat surprisingly, Rich started out as a tourist in his own home, trolling the streets of London with a camera and snapping photos that looked like many others in the Instagram travel community. Soon, however, Rich realized that he wanted to do something different. He began by taking a knife to some thick black paper and creating a cut-out in the shape of a wristwatch, which he then held strategically in front of Big Ben. The rest, as they say, was history.

It’s been nearly two years since Rich began his creative journey, and now five of his best-known photographs are available as prints exclusively at UncommonGoods. Always eager to give new artists a proper welcome to our family, we took the opportunity to speak with Rich about his craft. Read on for a deeper dive into his process, plus thoughts on his studio (read: his bedroom) and an inside look at which cut-out was hardest to capture.

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The Uncommon Life

Why it’s Better to Give
with 826 National

July 9, 2017

“Once upon a time there was a sheep named Oddy. He was a regular sheep in the grasslands with all the other sheep. Then, one day he fell in the Arctic sea, and he saw a big wave. It pushed him to shore towards a cyclops’s cave. Oddy took big steps towards the cave. The cyclops had a superpower that could turn anyone into a cyclops like him.”

Pretty intriguing first paragraph, right? It was written by Wahaaj, a young creative writing student who “likes pizza and french fries, and he loves to spell Mississippi.”

Wahaaj’s story is funny, imaginative, and might not exist without the help of our newest Better to Give partner, 826 National. Through their network of seven—soon to be eight—chapters across the US, 826 National has helped thousands of kids like Wahaaj let their imaginations run free, develop writing skills, and build confidence. The non-profit organization takes an uncommon, but extremely effective, approach to teaching writing to students age 6-18. They are passionate about their mission “to empower students with the skills to write their own paths forward, undefined by circumstance.” The 826 Network believes in the power of making learning fun, and the power that quality education can have in influencing children’s lives. All of this, along with their clever storefronts, dedicated staff and volunteers, free programs, and general ability to make every person who learns about them proclaim something along the lines of, “That is SO cool!” made us realize that we really, really wanted to join forces with them.

Now that 826 National is a part of our Better to Give program, you can select them to receive a $1 donation from us (at no cost to you) each time you shop at UncommonGoods. These donations will help 826 Network writing and tutoring centers across the country provide services to kids in under-resourced communities.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Second Anniversary Gifts: Cozy Up to Cotton

July 7, 2017

Congratulations—you’ve nearly ticked two years off since your wedding! Here you stand on the threshold of your second anniversary. What do you get your sweetheart? Well, tradition says year two’s the time to give cotton, which means that the obvious choices include bathrobes, nice sheets, and novelty T-shirts, if you’re feeling a little bit funny. But… what’s that? You’re looking for something a hint more… uncommon? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with second anniversary-friendly gifts that range from do-it-yourself painting kits to customizable wall art and comfy throws. Read on for ten of our best traditional recommendations, plus a little something for the modern among us.

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Maker Resources

Inside the Artist’s Studio with George Roumanas

July 7, 2017

George Roumanas working in his Athens, Greece studio, photos by Emily Hodges

Given that I “prepped” for this particular Studio Tour by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding and listening to Mama Mias soundtrack on repeat, I knew that my visit to George Roumanas’ creative space was definitely going to be a fun one. George is a self-taught sculptor from a small village in Southern Greece and he’s the maker behind a collection of brass and wooden art pieces, including our much-adored Pop The Question Wall Sculpture. Being the avid wanderluster I am, I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to learn about the process behind George’s romantic designs in the ancient city of Athens, Greece. (Insert overly excited squeal and triple axel jump.)

My visit began with George’s upbeat business partner and wife — Stella Spanopoulou — personally picking me up at my AirBnb rental. I suggested I could easily catch a cab to the studio, but she insisted on giving me a ride. That should have been my first clue that Greek hospitality is genuine and is never to be mistaken for coyness. According to Stella, “When something is offered, just accept it. It’s the Greek way!” During our short drive to the studio, she apologized for three things: how “non-American” and messy their studio was, the fact that George only spoke Greek, and the economic state of Greece. I assured her that the messier the studio the better, that I’ve dealt with language barriers before, and despite Greece’s economic hiccups — everything I’d seen so far was absolutely beautiful.

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