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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Inside
Greyston Bakery

October 18, 2017

Even if you’ve never heard of Greyston Bakery, chances are good that you have, in fact, eaten their baked goods. Ever had a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, or spooned your way through a full pint of Half Baked? Congratulations! You’ve had a little bit of Greyston in your belly. And it’s no coincidence that both of those flavors made it to Ben & Jerry’s top 10 list last year—Greyston’s brownies, which you can now snag in four flavors at UncommonGoods, are mind-blowingly tasty.

That’s not all, though. Like UncommonGoods (and Ben & Jerry’s), Greyston Bakery is a proud B Corp, and it’s New York state’s first Benefit Corporation, too. Founded by Zen Buddhist Roshi Bernie Glassman in 1982 in Yonkers, New York, Greyston is best known for its unique hiring model, dubbed Open Hiring™. “Open Hiring is simple,” says Ariella Gastel, Greyston’s VP of Marketing and Business Development: “If you want a job, come to the bakery, sign your name on a list, and wait to be called. No questions asked. No resume or interview needed.” Designed to break down barriers for those seeking honest work, Greyston’s policy provides opportunities to Yonkers locals who might otherwise encounter difficulty obtaining a job, whether that means they’re single parents, have trouble speaking English, or once struggled with homelessness. “It is hard to imagine how many people want to work but can’t because of barriers,” says Ariella. “Our mission is [to] create thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open Hiring.”

Though most of our real live visits are to artist’s studios, we couldn’t resist making the trip up to Yonkers to visit Greyston’s facility ourselves. The promise of brownies, of course, was a draw, but we were equally excited to see Greyston’s mission in action and to have the chance to meet Ariella and longtime team members Cece and Raymond. Armed with questions and juuust enough space in our tummies for a brownie or two, we set off for Yonkers from Grand Central Station, a mere half hour from our final destination.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Robert Hargrave

October 10, 2017

When you think “fine art,” your mind doesn’t usually jump to “plywood.” That is, in large part, why Robert Hargrave’s sculptures are so intriguing. Born in Ohio, raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and now based in Portland, Oregon, Robert handcrafts exquisite creations from layers of richly colored plywood. At first glance, you’d never guess the material—and, in a way, that’s the point. “In a homogeneous world of sameness, diversity is something to strive for,” Robert says. “My goal is to make products that are a joy to look at, a pleasure to touch, and an honor to own.”

After taking an up-close-and-personal look at Robert’s Layered Hardwood Magic Lamp Sculpture (albeit in the comfort of our Brooklyn office), we here at UncommonGoods knew we just had to find out a bit more about him, like how he manages to make two-by-fours look so darn fancy. Read on for more insight into Robert’s background and day-to-day as a creator, including a breakdown of what motivates him—and a tip o’ the hat to the sculpture that started it all.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with KaKyung Cho

October 4, 2017

Some 60 miles north of New York City, Newburgh, New York, sits quietly on the western bank of the Hudson River. To some, the name of the city is synonymous with a rough history. For others, it evokes vistas of riverside streets lined with 19th-century mansions, many mere blocks from abandoned homes. To a growing group, however, it’s become a refuge—a place that celebrates local creators, welcoming artists and entrepreneurs into a vibrant community of like-minded folks.

Enter KaKyung Cho, one of many makers who’s forging a home for her business in a newly renovated space in Newburgh. Like the duo behind design firm and longtime Brooklyn fixture Atlas Industries, KaKyung is a recent transplant, still transferring operations from her kitchen in Williamsburg, where she first began crafting soaps with the aid of a rather unlikely household tool—her slow cooker.

As we saw when we visited KaKyung back in July, she does everything herself, from selecting suitable loofahs for her three-piece soap sets to assembling the boxes she uses to package her equilateral soaps, and she does it all in a beautiful space a stone’s throw from Newburgh’s notable historic homes. In her workshop, antique furnishings mingle with massive ferns, delicate crystals, and piles of snacks just begging to be eaten. (Whether said snacks are always there or KaKyung just happens to be a great hostess, we’re not totally sure.) Buoyed by calming vibes and friendly conversation, we munched on burritos, watched KaKyung hand-cut and package her soaps, and asked her a select few questions about what life as a maker in Newburgh looks like. Read on for more.

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Gift Guides

What’s New?
22 Fresh Holiday Gifts for 2017

October 3, 2017

 

When the holiday season first rolls ’round, so, too, does the requisite holiday anxiety. “What on earth,” you may ask, “should I get everyone?” We all know not to nab something they already have, but sometimes, that can seem like a tall order. Luckily, with our help, we think you’ll find something that fits the bill. That’s because our first gift guide of the season, featuring only the freshest picks from our assortment, makes it easier than ever to steer clear of stuff you’re worried they’ve already got. Behold: a whopping 22 gifts new to UncommonGoods this year.

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Gift Guides

11 Unboring Pairs of Socks to Keep Your Toes Cool, Yet Toasty

October 1, 2017

Ah, the humble sock: a tool both useful and full of personality, designed to show off, say, your love of tacos or little doggies. Or, you know, your initials. Or maybe the title of a controversial, cool-kid book you really like. Whatever it is that you want your feet to broadcast, the possibilities, in today’s stylish landscape, are virtually endless, and our assortment features plenty of options both playful and serious. That’s why we created this sock-centric gift guide: to showcase the hottest tootsie trappers we have on offer, from sparkling, scaly wonders to stockings stitched in the style of an ice cream come. There’s something for everyone within… and that includes your little ones.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Marylène Chauveau

September 26, 2017

Far, far away from UncommonGoods’ historic headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marylène Chauveau manipulates glass in her home studio in Wotton, Québec. A native of the French-speaking Canadian province, Marylène lives where she works, tracing, cutting, sanding, and assembling striking pieces of finely colored glass into jewelry, mobiles, and suncatchers, all while tending to her two school-aged boys.

When we first saw Marylène’s Night Sky Mobile—a new addition to our assortment—in the flesh, we found ourselves struck by its delicate, masterful construction and by Marylène’s own background as a STEM worker-turned-glass artist. Intrigued, we set out to welcome her as we do all of our most exciting new makers: with her very own spot in our This Just In-spiration series. (As you can see, she accepted the offer. And we’re so glad.)

Read on for a glimpse into Marylène’s studio, complete with the rundown on her morning ritual and a suite of pretty pictures of her fine vitraux. (That’s French for “stained glass,” FYI. And the cat above? That’s un chat.)

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The Uncommon Life

RAINN and the Rape Kit Backlog

September 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today—September 21, 2017—is RAINN Day, an annual day of action designed to raise awareness and provide education to college students about sexual violence on campus. Although we’re not exactly a campus, we’ve chosen today to pay special tribute to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, better known as RAINN, with whom we’ve proudly partnered for nearly a decade. Read on for more on how you can help RAINN with one of their most urgent, challenging initiatives: addressing the rape kit backlog in the US.

Across the US, an estimated 100,000-plus rape kits sit untested in crime labs, evidence rooms, and police headquarters. Although these kits contain DNA evidence with the potential to solve crimes of sexual violence and identify repeat offenders, they remain untouched, often for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. In a world where 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, DNA evidence is an invaluable asset—one we can’t afford to let languish in storage. And that’s why RAINN, our Better to Give partner of seven years, needs your help.

RAINN’s work on the rape kit backlog spans years, and includes efforts to raise awareness of the issue by educating lawmakers and the general public. Still, there remains a great deal to be done in every state. Our causes page provides detailed information on the scope of the problem, with links to case studies and survivor resources and a simple form that allows you to contact your representatives directly in support of funding to address the issue.

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