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Design

Functional Fashion:
The Tulry Utility Necklace

October 9, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Tulry Utility Necklace is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

The Tulry Utility Necklace is coming soon to UncommonGoods | Pre-order here

“A lot of everyday products are designed with a male-centric audience in mind,” says designer Nate Barr. He admits that he hadn’t really thought about that until his wife, Bryn, challenged him to think from the perspective of people who aren’t always empowered to speak up. Bryn also inspired his latest invention, the Tulry Utility Necklace.

Bryn said she loved the functionality of Nate’s tools, like the Multi-Tool Box of Wonders, but had no way to carry them. “She pointed out that dresses don’t have pockets. Jeans pockets are too tight, and a purse is never big enough,” Nate explains.  She encouraged him to create a unique way to solve this problem. The result marries an elegant jewelry design with a highly functional piece.

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The Uncommon Life

Photographer Lauren Waldrop Wins UncommonGoods’ Fall 2017 Scholarship

September 22, 2017

Last spring, we did something new and exciting. Of course, as purveyors of the uncommon, we’re always eager to try new things, but this one was EXTRA exciting, because it gave us a chance to see awesome work by talented young artists and designers from across the US. We put out a call for entries for our first-ever UncommonGoods Scholarship and more than a hundred students sent in their work. After much deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce that Lauren Waldrop, a communication design major at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, is the recipient of our $1,000 scholarship prize.

UncommonGoods Scholarship Winner Lauren Waldrop, photo by Timery Lee Photography

Lauren’s photography captured the attention of our scholarship team, and we were impressed by the story she included in her submission, which highlighted her dedication to her craft, artistic process, and future career goals. To announce her win, we asked Lauren to tell us a little more about each of the areas she touched on in her entry. Check out her Q&A below, and take a look at her winning work.

Grace, photo by Lauren Waldrop

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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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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Values: Our Guiding Principles

June 21, 2017

What makes a workplace great? Your knee-jerk response might focus on salary and benefits, but we all know it’s more than that. Do you feel challenged? Are you encouraged to grow? Do you have a say in your company’s direction? Do you feel like it’s your company? Do you like your co-workers? We’ve had the goal of being a great place to work for a long time, but that can mean different things to different people. We realized that in order to actually make it happen and in turn become a stronger, more impactful business, we had to figure out what “great place to work” meant to us.

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Through discussions with our leadership, work with our human resources team and a trusted advisor, looking at the practices of businesses we admire, and a lot of feedback from team members across the company, we put who we want to be as an organization into words with our seven Guiding Principles.

Each of our Principles helps us define what we’re working to be as a company, and what we want to mean to the people who work here. In short, they’re a set of guidelines to keep us all moving in the same direction. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be differences of opinion expressed. In fact, the Principles are set up to empower folks around here to do just that.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Kim Strassner and Mike Pararas

June 7, 2017

Kim Strassner and Mike Pararas (with dogs Freddie and Sammie) in their Baltimore, MD studio, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney

When we first started doing Studio Tours back in 2012, we were pretty limited on where we could go to get our inspiration. That isn’t to say the inspiration was limited–we’ve visited a fantastic line-up of New York City artists close to home. But getting the sign-off to pack up and head to another state definitely wasn’t the goal from the start. Five years later, we’re still featuring monthly studio visits. Thanks to all of the love and support shown by our online community, makers, and the UG team for our tours, we’re able to keep growing the series. Now, we’re finding ways to stop by the studios of creators a little farther from home. Around 195 miles or so from home, in this case.

My latest trip started at Penn Station in Manhattan, eaaarly in the morning. A few hours later, I arrived at Penn Station in Baltimore, Maryland, where Kim Strassner was waiting for me and our Tabletop Buyer, NéQuana. Kim filled us in on some neighborhood history as she drove through B-more to the studio, woodshop, and office space where she and her husband, Mike Pararas, design and craft their personalized wooden cutting boards and lazy Susans. It didn’t take long before I realized how much work Kim, Mike, and their team put into each board they produce. The letters in the customized pieces are carved using tiny blades, precise hand movements, and great attention to detail.

In addition to walking me through how a slab of wood becomes a beautiful, handcrafted cutting board, the couple gave me a look at Kim’s first-ever board with words, answered a few questions about what keeps them going strong, and introduced me to their two adorable Havanese dogs. Keep reading to see inside this woodworking wonderland for yourself.

 

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Gift Guides

Gifts for Husbands: Father’s Day Finds for Your Fella

May 26, 2017

He’s pretty great at the partner thing, so it’s no surprise that when the parenting thing happened, he totally nailed it. Sure, raising kids definitely isn’t easy, and you both have a lot to figure out. But you’re in it together, and that helps make the crazy journey of growing a family a whole lot of fun. Celebrate the dude your kids call Dad with something from our list of Father’s Day Finds for Your Fella.

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Design

Wash Your Pet without Getting Drenched (Thanks to the Aquapaw)

May 22, 2017

Have you ever given a dog a bath? She probably squirmed around a bit. OK, that might be an understatement. It’s more likely that that she wouldn’t hold still, splashed around a whole lot, and then did one of those full-body doggy shakes that sent a shower your way. Almost everyone who’s owned a dog has had a similar experience. Product designer Daniel Lentz certainly has, and it got him thinking that there had to be a better way to get our furry friends squeaky clean.

The Aquapaw Dog Bathing Glove lets you keep one hand free to hold your dog’s collar or reach for the pet shampoo, while the other hand wets and scrubs. The whole time your dog is getting the spa treatment, he’s also getting a good petting. It took Daniel years of thinking about the product, piles of prototypes, and some time spent scrubbing dirty pups at a local dog shelter, but now his design is ready to make bath time easier for pet parents and their pets. The Aquapaw is coming soon to our assortment, so we asked Daniel to tell us more about his development process and why he thinks every pet owner should have an Aquapaw.

 

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Carrie and Patrick Frost

May 11, 2017

Carrie and Patrick Frost in their Mantua, OH studio, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney and NéQuana Rollings

“Glass is full of magic,” Patrick Frost told me as he and his wife Carrie began the tour of their Mantua, Ohio home with an introduction to their impressive collection of glass pieces from around the world.

As Patrick carefully handled one of the handmade glass objects, he explained that it was created by a master glassblower he’d trained with years before. The glassblower was very old, but after 60 years practicing his craft, he still loved his art, because he believed in the magic of glass.

Patrick said that he too is enchanted by the way glass moves, interacts with light, and almost mesmerizes. The Frosts continued to tell the stories behind many of the pieces in the collection (which takes up an entire wall and then some in their living room), and it became clear that both Patrick and Carrie are sincerely passionate about every part of the glassmaking process—from the first drops of molten material, through firing and turning and blowing, all the way up to opening the oven and seeing the cooled, finished piece for the first time.

Carrie making the Sham-Rock Glass, check out a video of the this glass getting made here

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