Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Year of Creativity

January 8, 2016

Inside the Artists' Studios | UncommonGoods

One of the most exciting things about serving as Editor of The Goods is that there’s always a Maker Story right around the corner. I am honored to get opportunities to meet talented artists, to see what they make and how they make it, and– when I’m extra lucky– to actually step inside their creative spaces. Over the past year, I had the pleasure of visiting several artists and seeing them in action, as did a few of our blog contributors, photographers, and buyers.  

From woodworking to weaving to jewelry making and beyond, we saw so much creativity last year that we couldn’t help but give our 2015 Studio Tours one more chance to shine before heading out with cameras and notepads to capture more inspirational moments in the year to come. Here are a few hand-picked highlights from those Studio Tours, complete with a few inspirational quotes, photos that made me want to drop everything and start a new creative project on the spot, and plenty of great advice. 

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Gift Guides

Last Minute Gifts That Don’t Feel Last Minute

December 16, 2015

Last Minute Gifts that Don't Feel Last Minute | UncommonGoods

The countdown to Christmas is on (like really, really on), and your holiday shopping is almost complete. If the emphasis is on almost and you’re still looking for one or two final presents, don’t worry. We have you covered with this list of last minute gifts so great it will seem like you’ve had them picked out for months!

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The Uncommon Life

It’s Better to Give Because…

December 9, 2015

We’re proud to support our Better to Give partners and the positive impacts they’re making on the world all year long, but on December 1, 2015, we were able to step-up our giving game and donate more to help them do good.

The first day in December this year was Giving Tuesday, a “global day dedicated to giving back.” To celebrate, we asked our community to tell us why it’s better to give than to receive, and we received some pretty on-point answers.

Better to Give | UncommonGoodsFor every answer we received on  Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, we donated $1 to our Better to Give partners. We also chose one answer from each platform and donated $500 to a non-profit organization of the person who shared that answer’s choice.

  • Twitter winner @EtheRealGrrl said “It’s #BettertoGive than receive because nothing is more fulfilling than contributing to another person’s happiness.” She chose our Better to Give partner RAINN to receive our donation in her name.
  • Our Instagram winner @zlauzia picked  The Next Door–an organization that isn’t currently one of our partners, but is definitely a worthy cause. She said, “It is always #bettertogive. There is no better joy than that of giving – regardless of what it is – a smile, your time, a shoulder, your love, a hug, money; let’s make every day #givingtuesday.”
  • On Facebook, Clara Waldhari told us, “Giving — of yourself and/or through a material item — is the best way to know you are alive and in tune with this wondrous universe. Giving from the heart is healing for the giver and the receiver. #BettertoGive and #GivingTuesday” She selected the international children’s rights organization Save the Children to receive $500.

In addition to the extra donations made through our social media campaign, we also doubled the donation for every shopper who selected a Better to Give Partner at checkout when purchasing on our website. (Did you know that every time you shop at UncommonGoods you have the opportunity to select a non-profit partner from our line-up and we’ll donate $1 to that organization at no cost to you? Learn more here.)

Better to Give | UncommonGoods

It's Better to Give | Learn More

Thanks to our social media followers who participated in the campaign and the shoppers who selected non-profit partners to receive our special $2 donation, we donated a total of $5,799 on Giving Tuesday.

Of course, it truly is better to give than to receive all year round, so don’t forget to check out Better to Give next time you place an order with us and we’ll donate $1 to the non-profit partner of your choice.


Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: From Laos with Love–Clearing Bombs, Crafting Beauty, Creating Hope

December 1, 2015

As a certified B Corporation, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green”–we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always eager to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

Laos A village in Laos, Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Suda

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft–those who are making an uncommon impact.

In the case of Elizabeth Suda, founder of Article 22, making a positive impact is, in part, about helping to heal the negative impact the imposed on Laos  during the Vietnam War. The Peacebomb Jewelry designs produced by Article 22 aren’t just fashionable accessories, they’re also symbols of hope.

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The Uncommon Life

Better to Give Gets Even Better on #GivingTuesday

November 22, 2015

Giving Tuesday

We’ve all heard the old phrase “It’s better to give than to receive,” and as a B Corp, we truly mean it. We even took the name for our Better to Give program from that sentiment, because we know that giving back to the community is an important part of becoming a better business.

Every time you shop at UncommonGoods, we donate $1 to the non-profit Better to Give partner of your choice, and over the past 12 years, that’s added up to over $1,000,000 in donations. On December 1, 2015, we want to give a little extra by participating in #GivingTuesday.

Help us give more by taking to social media to tell us why you believe that it’s better to give than to receive using the hashtags #BettertoGive and #GivingTuesday. We’ll donate $1 a share for the first 5,000 shares to our non-profit partners and we’ll pick three participants (one each from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) to win $500 to donate to the non-profit organization of their choice.

Better to Give | UncommonGoods

While you don’t need to shop to share, we do plan to give our traditional Better to Give program a little extra love on #GivingTuesday as well. Place an order on December 1 and we’ll donate an extra dollar on your behalf to the organization you choose at checkout.

By participating in #GivingTuesday through social media or by selecting one of our partners when you shop, you can help us make a difference for a child learning to read, a woman survivor of war, a survivor of sexual abuse, or a natural habitat facing potential deforestation.


RAINNDonations to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, fund programs that prevent sexual violence. RAINN also operates National Sexual Assault Hotline and partners with rape crisis centers across the country. By providing resources for policymakers and the media and building community partnerships, RAINN promotes nationwide education and awareness about sexual violence. They also work to ensure that rapists are brought to justice.


American Forests

Donations to American Forests help them protect and restore forests damaged by human action and natural disasters around the world. American Forests, the oldest non-profit conservation organization in the United States, has planted more than 45 million trees since 1990.


Women for Women International

Donations to Women for Women International allow them to  help women survivors of war by bringing them together in safe spaces to learn life, business, and job skills. By giving women the tools and resources they need to overcome crisis and poverty, Women for Women International helps them become independent, while building stronger families and communities.


Reach Out and Read

Donations to Reach Out and Read help them continue their mission to put children on the path to success through the development of early reading skills and school readiness. The organization works with thousands of doctors and nurses across all 50 US states to integrate children’s books into well-child visits and encourage parents to read to their children.

We’re extremely proud of the positive impact we’ve helped our non-profit partners make in the world and we’re looking forward to helping these great organizations do more good as we celebrate #GivingTuesday.


How do you choose artists to feature on your blog?

November 12, 2015

We’re always looking for artists with interesting stories to tell. We feature artists in several types of maker stories on the blog. Artists new to UncommonGoods are often profiled in our This Just In-spiration series, which is a quick Q&A to introduce our readers and customers to our latest products and the people who make them. We also love profiling artists that go above and beyond when it comes to sustainable business practices in our Uncommon Impact series. When we’re lucky enough to work with artists with studios near our location in Brooklyn (or in surrounding areas), we might stop by their workspace for a Studio Tour. Finally, since we know not every artist will fit into one of these categories, we’ll also feature maker stories outside of these series. If you’re an UncommonGoods maker who’d love to share your inspiration or creative process, who makes something out of unique materials, or who factors social and environmental responsibility into your business practices, we want to share your story. Email to tell us more.

Gift Guides

Fantastic Finds for the Family

October 28, 2015

Fantastic Finds for the Family | UncommonGoods

Finding a gift for the whole family can be tricky, especially when each member of the group has a very different personality from the next. You could go with the standard “Happy Holidays to All of You from All of Us” fruitcake, but we think that one of these unique gifts might suite each of their individual tastes a little better. (While promoting family bonding, togetherness, and all that sweet stuff. Now that takes the cake!)


Personalized Family MugsDad takes it black, mom likes a little milk and sugar, and the kiddos stick to hot chocolate. Now each member of the family can enjoy their favorite drink in their own special mug. | Personalized Family Mugs

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nils Wessell

October 16, 2015

Nils Wessell | UncommonGoodsNils in his Brooklyn woodshop, photos by Rachel Orlow

Nils Wessell is the creator of our Tablet Holding Cutting Board , an innovative design that allows cooks to easily prep ingredients with their electronic tablets ready and enabled right in front of them. While heirloom cookbooks are becoming a thing of the past, Nils’ cutting boards are beautifully-crafted and sturdily-constructed, meaning they bring a dose of tactile beauty to cooking in the electronic age. 

When I first read our This Just In-spiration interview with the Brooklyn-based designer and woodworker, I got the impression that he’s not only a talented craftsman, but also someone who is truly passionate, not only about his own craft, but also about art across a broad spectrum. When I learned that his woodshop is located in nearby Industry City, I knew I had to pay him a visit to learn more about his thoughts on the pursuit of creativity and the challenges (and rewards) that come with balancing art and business. 

Once in Nils’ creative space, I saw work, experimentation, knowledge, and–at the risk of sounding a little cheesy here–the magic in the sawdust all around me. Nils’ studio is a mix of books, designs in the prototype phase, power tools, and exquisitely-crafted cutting boards in different stages of production. Read on to see some of these works in progress, hand tools and heavy machinery, and our interview with Nils. 

Nils Wessell | UncommonGoods Studio Tour

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