Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Seth and Kali Keaveny

September 16, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.
What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Seth and Kali Keaveny, creators of the Wooden Gear Lamp and the Wooden Pendulum Clock.
Keaveny Family
Seth took a few minutes to tell us about working full-time in the “corporate” world while running his own business, spending time with his newborn son, and working to make his dreams a reality.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Just the other day, while organizing my basement, I came across an exercise that was dated “1980” (puts me in first grade) saying, “When I grow up I want to be an artist or a professional baseball player.” I would like to say that being an artist was a lifelong dream, but in truth… it was not something I took an interest in until my senior year at Tulane University. In fact, I selected to sing in an all-male choir in high school to avoid having to take art classes.
Perhaps my subconscious knew what my destiny might be, but throughout my youth I had strategically led my life no different than most. Go to college… get a degree… find a job… and do what you got to do. Fortunately, my heart overpowered my brain and took control forcing me to further educate myself in my passion/calling in life. At twenty two, I took a few continued education classes at SCAD in Savannah, GA only to find myself lucky enough to be invited to the Furniture Design program and receive my MFA. In short, I was a “late bloomer” when I discovered my passion to become an artist and have not looked back since.

Wooden Pendulum Clock | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
Here is my day… day in and day out. I wake up no later than 2 a.m. (yes, 2 a.m.) and get to my corporate gig by 3 a.m., organize the work flow for my employees, and begin to complete the action items I have created for myself for that day. Currently, I manage the “Creative Design & Engineering Center” for North America with a great company that appreciates my creative and professional contributions while providing me the flexibility to efficiently achieve my daily obligations for them and my personal goals at [my own business,]Kkorner. I get home by 1 p.m. and head to the studio to work until about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Next, I eat some dinner and hang with my amazing wife, Kali, and our incredible new born son, Tennyson. My head hits the pillow around 9 p.m. or so.
This lifestyle is not an easy one. It is not a lifestyle that is recommended to those who do not have a burning drive to become successful at something they love… something they MUST do… something that they truly believe they will eventually reap the rewards putting in long hours and willing to “pay their dues.”
Once all of the pieces fall into place, Kkorner will become a fulltime gig, but I have no intentions of slowing down! Sleep is overrated and the idea of sleeping one-third of this precious thing we call life is honestly disturbing to me. And if I could spend all twenty four hours of the day designing and creating, I would be a very happy man. Unfortunately, I need about five hours of rest to reboot and to maintain a clear and sound mind.

Seth and Kali Keaveny

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Being labeled as a “professional artist” can be a very personal achievement to obtain. In my current situation, I am not there… even though we have been very successful and have grown much faster than originally planned, until Kkorner is capable of providing me with enough income to comfortably support me and my family and has become a household brand name, I do not categorize myself as a professional artist. I define a “professional artist” as someone who can generate significant revenue doing what they love and are passionate about each and every day. We project that by the first quarter of 2017 this dream will manifest itself.
To answer the question directly, all I think about every second of the day is the desire to share my creations with the world. One might define this as being obsessed. In fact, I believe one must be obsessed to achieve a dream. Being conscious that I can touch people’s lives, in some small way, even with a lamp or valet, can bring tears to my eyes and chills to my bones. To inspire… to influence… to share… and, most importantly, to put a smile on someone’s face… THAT is what it is all about! THAT is the driving force behind my desire of becoming a successful professional artist.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
Interesting question. The only items that I make sure I acknowledge on a daily bases are photos and paintings of my loved ones who have impacted my life in a positive way and who have since passed. This collection consists of family members and even my first dog of seventeen years, Taylor.

Imagine you showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Again… another great question. When the design and function allow, I try to have my pieces be “interactive.” That being said, I believe one of the first things that a kindergartner would ask is, “How do you do that?” That is when the door opens to not only educate this young and beautiful mind, but too inspire and direct them on how important it is to live a life of passion.

Wooden Gear Lamp

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I have two quotes that I have printed large enough to be pasted on my studio walls. The first quote is one that any artist will appreciate…
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

The second quote is very personal and inspirational to me. I believe this quote to be very profound and only those individuals who live their life with the same burning passion will appreciate and understand…

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Unknown

However, the quote pasted on wall has our brand name, Kkorner, in place of the word “entrepreneurship.”

What are you most essential tools?
Not being sarcastic nor disrespectful to the question, but my most essential tool is my “brain.”

See the Collection | UncommonGoods


Maker Mentors Holiday: How to Make Your Holiday Season a Success!

September 14, 2015

Maker Mentors Holiday

Last spring we were super excited to team up with the folks at Maker Mentors to offer webinars with a few of the artists we work with here at UncommonGoods. We heard some great feedback about the online conference, so when we heard that the event is back for a one-day pre-holiday maker education extravaganza, we couldn’t wait to get on board.

Maker Mentors Holiday is September 19. The online conference will focus on helping makers make the 2015 holiday season a success and features 10 live-streamed sessions. (Including one with me, where I’ll talk about storytelling and content creation.)

Register now with the code UNCOMMONGOODS for $25 off, and don’t forget to sign up for the Maker Mentors newsletter for more from the Maker Mentors community.

The Uncommon Life

12 More Quotes that Keep Makers Motivated

August 14, 2015

A while back, we rounded up a series of inspirational quotes that we gathered along our adventures through artists’ studios. Those 8 Quotes that Keep Makers Motivated are enough to give most creative types a little get-up-and-go, but why stop there? We’ve since visited more studios, interviewed a ton of talented artists, and collected even more quotes that help keep our makers going strong.  Here are a few that we hope you’ll enjoy!


Considering that Cassidy Schulz Brush deals with lighting all day, it’s no surprise that she’s a fan of Edison. “There are a few quotes by Thomas Edison that I find inspirational,” she told us when we visited her Brooklyn studio. She wrote this quote out on her chalkboard wall and snapped a shot for us.



We’re proud to feature a wide assortment of Ana Talukder’s Jewelry and our Jewelry Buyer, Sharon, was thrilled to have the opportunity to check out Ana’s studio in Seattle. Ana wrote out this mantra that reminds her, “You always have to be looking to be better, you always have to be working at being better, and you always have to put all your heart in it. Otherwise, what’s the point?”


Photographer Barry Rosenthal happens to have a creative space in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the same building that UncommonGoods calls home! Of course, we couldn’t wait to work with him to develop new products, but we also couldn’t wait to check out his studio. Barry explained that this Burroughs quote makes him think about his own creative process: “I don’t know what I will find in the field, and I may not know what I will do with what I find, but somehow fully formed themes are sparked just by the simple act of ‘seeing’ what is out there.”


Dave Marcoullier’s San Francisco woodworking studio is in a building that’s also home to the studios of more than 250 other creators, or “mad scientists,” as Dave likes to say. His quote from architect Daniel H. Burnham reminds him that he got where he is today by thinking big. “It’s good to get riled up and make bold plans,” he said.


Jewelry Designer Jen Pleasants not only imprints “She believed she could, so she did” on some of her designs, she also truly believes in the power of those words. She even has them proudly displayed in her Portola Valley, CA studio.


Our Tabletop Buyer, NéQuana, traveled to rural Pennsylvania to meet JoAnn Stratakos, the maker of everyone’s favorite rainbow unicorn, Elwood. One of JoAnn’s favorite quotes, which was inspired by a quote from Richard Bach, is a reminder to keep the good things that could be in mind, instead of thinking about what might be holding you back.


We were lucky to get a look inside Lahla Smart’s London studio when our contributor, Emily, visited England. Lahla said that this Walt Disney quote reminds her of her early days of a designer. She took a leap, created her Food Guide Towel, and the rest is history.


On the same trip, Emily had a chance to check out Stuart Gardiner’s studio. Stuart shared a quote by Saul Bass, not only because Bass is one of his favorite designers, but also because: “it’s quite a broad and vague statement which is similar to the way I go about my work. I have a very organic unstructured approach to design: the opposite of methodical.”


Matthew Hoffman’s work is full of inspiring quotes and words of wisdom, so it was hard to pick just one statement from our recent interview with the Chicago-based artist. We figured that “Anything is possible” pretty much says it all.


Also based in Chicago, Phil Thompson creates art inspired by architecture. He keeps this Winston Churchill quote on the bulletin board in front of his drawing board to keep him motivated.


Design Challenge Winner Sarah Janece Garcia sent us a painting of her favorite quote from Coco Chanel when we interviewed her about her winning painting, First Light


We carry quite a few of Ronda J Smith’s photographic pillows, so we loved seeing her favorite quote printed and plush! “This quote means anything and everything you want it to mean,” she said when we visited her Brooklyn studio. “Your thoughts and mindset are more powerful than you could ever imagine.”

We love getting these looks inside our artists’ creative processes, and can’t wait to share more interviews and Studio Tours with through our Maker Stories. Share your favorite quotes in the comments below to get in on the conversation. 


Can I easily send you the information for my new product?

August 12, 2015

Yes! We’re excited to announce our new online product submission tool, built with our designers and makers in mind! The tool is user-friendly (for you and us!) and will help your products reach our customers faster.

What does it look like?

It’s six part online form that collapses as you move through each section, so you can easily tell us about your product and the story behind it, and even submit photos.

New Item Submission Form for Vendors

How do I access it?

Once your item is approved,  you’ll receive a link from our buying team with instructions on how to set up your new product information.

How do I know that it’s filled in correctly?

Don’t worry, we’ll let you know! If you filled out everything right, you’ll get a confirmation email with an attached PDF for your records.

What if I have questions?

Ask away!  We built this tool to help you and our buyers get information about your new items into our database as seamlessly as possible, but we’re still here to answer your questions if you need us.

*Please keep in mind that this submission tool was designed to help UncommonGoods makers get their product info on the record ASAP. If you’re interested in selling with us, but haven’t worked with our team before, you’ll want to check out our Design Submission Page to get your goods in front of our buyers’ eyes. 

Maker Stories

Around the World with Wendy Gold

July 15, 2015

Wendy Gold says that nothing made her happier as a child than a new box of crayons. While her preferred medium has changed, Wendy still feels her best when she’s working on something creative.

These days scissors, X-ACTO knives, foam brushes, glue, and finish have replaced crayons and she considers the world her canvas. Both literally and figuratively. Wendy creates beautiful maps and globes using repurposed vintage materials and water-based, environmentally-friendly finishes.

Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

“Inspiration has come to me steadily throughout life, and I have been fortunate to be able to chase it,” Wendy says. She explains that as a teenager she “spent countless hours creating insanely intricate friendship bracelets, kaleidoscopes, and ceramic musical instruments,” and in college she made a headboard for her bed so big that she couldn’t get it out of her room when she moved out.

Though she says she’s chased inspiration, it seems that the inspiration for her decoupage maps found her, in a way, through a series of related events.

Bouquet by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

“In 2001, my husband went away on a fishing trip, and came back to find our dining room table covered with toilet seats,” Wendy recalls. “Yes, toilet seats. While he was gone, I had been making decoupage picture frames for holiday gifts, and when I took a bathroom break, inspiration struck. I went to the hardware store, bought some toilet seats and began decoupaging them immediately. My first business, Art de Toilette was born.”

Wendy's Tools

From there, Wendy went on to design a line of bathroom scale art, playing on the idea that people have a love/hate relationship when it comes to weighing in. But after a few years, she decided to take a break from decoupage.

“In 2007, when I got pregnant, I had to take a break from Art de Toilette because of the glues and finishes I had been using at the time,” she says. “After my daughter was born, I was looking for a canvas that would be more environmentally and physically friendly to work with. In 2010, I was at a local flea market and I saw the most beautiful vintage globe I had ever seen.”

That vintage globe was the start of Wendy’s work with miniature worlds. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes surreal, and always creative, each of Wendy’s pieces adds another level to the illustrated version of the Earth that we all became familiar with in grade school. Of course, since her materials are repurposed, many of these illustrations are out of date. By adding her artistic touch to these outdated depictions of our planet, she gives them a new life.

“I just love the aesthetic of things from eras past, and the idea of turning old, geographically inaccurate globes and maps into new, modern day worlds,” says Wendy, who frequents estate sales and flea markets for inspiration and materials.


Butterfly by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

Despite the inaccuracies hidden among the new worlds created in some of the maps, the pieces have no trouble drumming up a bit of wanderlust. Seasoned travelers looking to chart adventures don’t need to worry about about running across Czechoslovakia or the U.S.S.R., though, Wendy also makes the Personalized Wedding and Anniversary Pushpin Map with current information. So, whether you’re getting ready to pack your bags or you’re looking for an artful reminder that the world is full of beauty, Wendy’s maps are sure to send your imagination on a journey.

Pushpin Map | Wendy Gold

See Wendy Gold's Collection

Maker Stories

Alyson Thomas’ Creative Cocktail Illustrations & Other Adventures in Art

June 18, 2015

Alyson Thomas | UncommonGoods

Attorney-turned-illustrator Alyson Thomas has always loved drawing, painting, and making things, but says she “didn’t think anything of it” until she was voted “most creative” in her college dorm. She didn’t exactly leap from law school to illustrating designs like the ones featured on our Cocktail Diagram Glasses, either.

Alyson’s career started in a very different place–the Department of Homeland Security. From doodling on sticky notes in meetings, to turning in her badge and spending a year on a drawing project, Alyson’s love of illustration grew and eventually blossomed into a full-time business. 

She took a break from diagramming delicious things, visiting “nerdy cocktail bars,” and generally being awesome, to answer a few questions about quitting her day job and the creative endeavors that followed.

Bloody Mary Diagram Glasses | UncommonGoods

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Create Uncommon Cocktails with Mixology Dice

June 12, 2015

Sunday, June 14 is National Bourbon Day! The makers of our Mixology Dice, Liz and Sarah Downey, sent us some fun videos featuring creative cocktail recipes just in time to raise a glass to America’s whiskey.

While the bartender who stirred up the rickey in the featured video opted to pour 2 ounces of rye when he rolled “whiskey,” we encourage our readers of legal drinking age to give the cocktail a try with some tasty bourbon if you choose to imbibe this weekend. Many of these recipes can also be made with bourbon or your whiskey of choice.


Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Chanda Froehle

June 8, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the person behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Chanda Froehle, the artist behind the Stained Glass Panel Collection.

Chanda Froehle | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I must have been very young when I knew I wanted to be an artist. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an artist. From a very young age, my mom always encouraged me to keep making art, and my step dad always encouraged me to stay focused on my goals.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
I think the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist was realization that I could actually do this as a career. When you’re young, and you tell someone that you want to be an artist, you get a lot of “oh honey that’s nice, but let’s be realistic” type of reactions. Because of that, I think it makes doing what I love for a living that much more exciting.

Lakeside Stained Glass Art Panel | UncommonGoodsWhat does your typical day in the studio look like?
A typical day in my studio… I spend a lot of time listening to music while I hand-cut my glass. I usually spend one day a week grouting, which is actually my favorite part of the process! It is completely messy, and that is the point where I can see the design coming to life.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
I don’t know if this counts as a talisman, but I have this little box in my studio which contains my very first stained glass. My husband gave it to me years ago. It is very special to me, because without that glass, and without my husband’s unwavering support, I may have never tried to make a living as a glass artist.

Spring Tree Stained Glass Panel by Chanda Frohle | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
I imagine if I were to show my work to a kindergartner, he or she would want to know how often I cut myself. Also, I think they would like the part where I sometimes get to smash some glass up with a hammer.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche.

See Chanda's Collection | UncommonGoods

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