Design

Industrial Design Student Hannah Giancola Wins UncommonGoods’
Spring 2018 Scholarship

January 19, 2018

We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program last spring.

UncommonGoods Scholarship Winner Hannah Giancola, photos by Will Cornfield

This time around, our scholarship team was wowed by the beauty of winner Hannah Giancola‘s furniture design. We loved the Mid-century modern-inspired look of the table she entered and her story tugged at our heart strings. Hannah, who created the table with her grandmother’s house in mind, received $1,000 to use toward continuing her education at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, where she’s currently enrolled as an industrial design major.

We asked Hannah to share a little more about her career aspirations, her love of design, and how her grandma’s glass table inspired the piece that earned her this award. Check out our Q&A with Hannah below to learn more.

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Gift Guides

Our Favorite New Gifts for Your Valentine

January 19, 2018

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. You know what they say: “Love is in the air,” and here at UncommonGoods, we’re sure feeling it. When it comes to gifts, last-minute roses and drugstore chocolates are OK fallbacks, but if you’re already browsing our blog, chances are you’re looking for something a little more… special. Lucky for you, we’ve hand-picked a selection of 19 gifts you couldn’t get from us this time last year, from spankin’ new suites of cocktail syrups to sweet, subtle necklaces sure to please. Read on for more on our favorite new Valentine’s Day gifts and you’ll find just the thing to celebrate L-O-V-E. (Cross our hearts.)
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Maker Stories

Coming Clean: Heather Swanepoel on Making Soap & Overcoming Obstacles

January 18, 2018

 

Heather Swanepoel and her family in her Monroe, GA store.

Monroe, Georgia is a small town with a population weighing in at just under 14,000. But even tiny towns can have big heroes. Meet Heather Swanepoel, soap aficionado, entrepreneur, and unstoppable force for good. She was spending weeks on the road and desperately wanted to fill her free hours with a hobby. When knitting didn’t work out (she could only master scarves), she turned to a soothing task she could actually master: soap making. Soon, people were lining up to purchase her all natural soaps and the rest was delightfully scented history.

“Our success attracted other businesses to Monroe with similar models, and the buying customers followed,” she says. “We won the 2016 Monroe, GA Business of the Year because of the atmosphere we cultivated in the once dying town.”

We had the pleasure of speaking with Heather about her success and how she went from on-the-go mom to superpower entrepreneur one bar of soap at a time. Read (lather?) up on her story below.

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The Uncommon Life

Why We Keep Marching

January 14, 2018

*Editor’s note 1/19/18: In honor of the anniversary of last year’s Women’s Marches and in celebration of marches taking place across the world in 2018, we’re donating all profits from Keep Marching Necklaces purchased on on January 20 and 21, 2018 directly to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti sexual-violence organization.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, women across the world marched together to protest injustice, lift each other up, and send the powerful message that women’s rights are human rights. Thanks to the combined efforts of millions of people, it was the largest single protest day in US history. From clever signs to a well-rehearsed song, marchers came prepared to fight for equality. As a plethora of pink hats stood out among the signs, songs, and crowds, it became clear that the hat would go down in history as a symbol of female power and unity.

Recognizing that the hat makes a strong statement, our Product Development team decided to incorporate it in a design that celebrates women. The Keep Marching Necklace is a wearable reminder that while there may not be an organized demonstration every day, the march for equality continues.

Keep Marching Necklace | UncommonGoods

The necklace was designed by women who wanted to not only create a beautiful piece, but also develop a product that could make a positive impact. With that in mind, $5 from the sale of each Keep Marching Necklace supports our longtime Better to Give partner RAINN. Since partnering in 2010, we’ve donated over $350,ooo to RAINN–the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization–and hope to grow that amount when you select RAINN at checkout (our $1 donation is at no cost to you) and through givebacks on designs like our Keep Marching and Hope Shines necklaces.

As we approach a series of Women’s Marches planned for January 20 and 21, 2018, we asked the women behind this necklace to share what the pink hat symbol means to them and why they keep marching.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Impact: Making Green Commuting Easy with the Bike Share Bag

January 12, 2018

Maria Boustead hitches a ride with CitiBike on a snowy Brooklyn day; photos by Rachel Orlow

In a city like New York, biking can be quite intimidating. Big streets. Bigger puddles. Drivers with no regard for human life. We’ve got it all! But some—many of whom are braver than I—have long sung the praises of our bike share system, which isn’t the only environmentally friendly transportation scheme of its kind. With bike shares cropping up in cities around the country, like Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, biking’s barrier to entry has lowered further than ever before, allowing commuters nationwide to leave their cars in the garage at last. This rings especially true in smaller cities, where the luxuries of good public transport, like subways and express buses, often don’t exist at all.

That’s all well and good, but industrial designer and longtime bike rider Maria Boustead noticed one teensy problem when she first hitched a ride using Divvy, the bike share system in her native Chicago: The front basket just. Didn’t. Work. As a designer of fun, yet functional accessories for cyclists, however—especially women—Maria was uniquely equipped to design a solution. The result? A bag designed especially for bike share bikes, equipped with more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. (OK, OK, no literal bells.)

We stopped by Maria’s workspace on the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy here in Brooklyn, NY, and spoke with her about the story behind the Bike Share Bag and what sustainability means to her. Read on for more. (As for us, we’re off to snag our first Citibike membership. Be back in five.)

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Maker Resources

Submit Your Work to the 2018 JCK Tucson Design Challenge

January 12, 2018

For two years, we’ve partnered with jewelry industry authority JCK to honor designers whose work ticks the boxes we value most, like “out of the box” (no pun intended) and “masterfully crafted.” We’re doing it again this year, and we’re calling on you—yes, you, assuming you’re a jewelry designer!—to submit your work to the 2018 design challenge for JCK Tucson, a curated destination for emerging artists and makers of finished jewelry and loose gemstones. This year, JCK Tucson will take place from January 31–February 3 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ.

Judging of the challenge, which is open to all Arizona Ballroom exhibitors, will take place on Friday, February 2 at 1pm. Judges will include representatives from UncommonGoods (hey, that’s us) and Overstock.com. The winner will receive a cash prize and a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet
Jonathan Bobrow

January 9, 2018

Here at UncommonGoods, we’re always on the lookout for newcomers to our assortment of artists whose creations make us smile, think, or say “wow” when we glance at our homepage (a daily activity here). The latest in this parade of intriguing creators? One Jonathan Bobrow, a self-described “artist, designer, programmer, math lover, and constantly curious individual.” A former student at the MIT Media Lab, Jonathan is best known ’round these parts for his Troxes: Origami Building Blocks—toys that fold together to create intricate shapes without the aid of glue, tape, or any other sticky substance… excepting a little elbow grease.

For someone (wink, nudge) whose favorite part of their job often involves interviewing new artists, Jonathan was an ideal study. Talkative, open, and excited to share the story behind his Origami Building Blocks, Jonathan provided us with more fascinating material than we could possibly pack into a single quick-and-dirty blog post. That didn’t stop us from trying, though. Read on for a full account of our attempt, including an explanation of what A League of Their Own has to do with designing laser-cut toys.

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The Uncommon Life

3 Easy Meal Tips to Please Picky Kids

January 9, 2018

Your kid has yet to discover that broccoli is delicious and they won’t touch anything that isn’t an unnatural color with a ten-foot fork. It’s going to be OK. While letting your kiddo live on gummy bears and microwaved mac ‘n cheese alone certainly isn’t an option, sneaking some healthy good stuff in their favorite meals is. These tips make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes healthier, but they’re still completely kid-friendly. Serve up each meal with our Construction Plate & Utensils and your little one might even ask for seconds.

Kid-approved Bake Goods | Breakfast | UncommonGoods

Breakfast: Kid-Approved Baked Goods

As the old saying goes, it’s the “most important meal of the day.” But if that meal is packed with sugar, your kiddo will crash before lunch. Start the day right by replacing the refined sugar in baked goods like mini muffins or waffle bites with a fruity alternative.

  • 1 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce easily replaces 1 cup of white sugar

-or-

  • Mash 3 medium bananas and add a splash of water to get the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar

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