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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Melanie Majewski

August 6, 2013
Melanie Majewski
Melanie Majewski, UncommonGoods Senior Human Resources & Office Management Coordinator

My hometown is…
Schenectady, NY. The most recent Ryan Gosling movie (The Place Beyond the Pines) was filmed in and took place in my hometown.

My favorite company event I’ve organized was…
Ah! This is a tough one. I get a little stressed when it comes to the organizing aspect of the events, but it’s so worth it in the end. I love all of our on-site snacks/lunches, but I really love our happy hours! Our latest at Owl Farm was really fun.

I’m inspired by…
Happy, daring and adventurous people. And Beyoncé.

My favorite place to visit in New York City is…
I really love walking around NYC and being outside when it’s sunny, so I have to say I love all of the parks: The Highline, Central Park, Prospect Park. Oh! And the Brooklyn Botanic Garden… it’s only a block from my apartment!

An uncommon fact about me…
I’m digging deep here.

I once received a karaoke machine for Christmas (I was about 8 years old) – one of those machines that you hook up to your TV and it video records you. I was really into performing (as you can tell with the level of dramatics here, still am) so I filmed myself for days. I started getting bored singing the same songs so I decided to do a “newscast” (I should also mention that I went to college for journalism). During the weather forecast portion of this 15-minute video, I took my Dad’s world atlas book, took a blind twisty off of one of the living room windows, and so eloquently projected the weather forecast (and by eloquently I mean I couldn’t get the mirrored video-thing down and I kept pointing to the west when speaking of the east). Somehow my Mom stumbled upon the videotape and shared it at our family Christmas party the next year, haha. She never lets me live it down.

(I could have totally gone un-dramatic there and just said, “I’ve caused a fire to start in the microwave not once, but twice.” You’re welcome.)

When I’m not working, I’m probably…
Cooking up a new recipe for my roommate, daydreaming up my next adventure, taking a dance class, or catching up on The Ellen Show. I like to keep life interesting and rarely sit still.

The word that best describes me…
Driven.

Working at UncommonGoods, I’ve learned…
SO MUCH! I’ve learned a lot about the human resources and recruiting industry. But also how to interact with people, network, collaborate with smart and creative people, work in a warehouse, and most importantly, feed 300+ people in one day!


Would you rather…Spend an hour each day practicing ballet indoors or showing off your yoga poses in the park?

That is one of the toughest questions I’ve been asked in my 24 years of life! Can I practice ballet in the park? If not, I don’t know how to answer this question.

The Uncommon Life

Celebrate Cycling for National Bike Month

May 17, 2013

Since May is National Bike Month, and today is is Bike to Work Day, we’re celebrating by sharing some stats about how our team gets our bike on.

In NYC, biking to and from work is among one of the regularities of city living. When the subway stations are too hot, humid and crowded during the summer, it’s not too uncommon to see bikers out enjoying the breeze as they cruise through the boroughs to work. Actually, NYC has ranked #7 on the Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities list and have you heard about the new Citi Bike Membership program? Awesome.

Jessica McDonough, Associate Art Director, on a cruise.

Here are some quick facts about UG bike riders:

How we get to work.

Lee Griffin, Operations Manager, walking his bike through the warehouse to his office.

The time we spend riding to work.

Mindy Wilson, Human Resources Manager, gives biking a thumbs up.

Who’s biking by department.

And the top three UGooders (combining commute in miles, commute in minutes and frequency) are…

#3 – Laura Frost, Customer Service Assistant Manager
8 miles, 60 minutes, Average of 4 – 6 times per month

#2 – Erin Fergusson, Senior Manager – Merchandising
8 miles, 40 minutes, Average of 3 times per week

And, our #1 bike commuter is…
Dave Bolotsky, Founder and CEO
8 miles, 35 minutes, Average of 3 – 4 days per week

The Uncommon Life

How UncommonGoods Celebrated Earth Day 2013

April 23, 2013

One of the most inspiring things that gets me excited to come to work are the people that work here, but mostly their passion, enthusiasm and spirit to be part of something great.

I’m the first person (or maybe second, next to our security guard) that all new team members meet when they walk in on their first day. One of the questions I am always curious to ask is “so what brought you to UncommonGoods?” And the most popular replies include something with “B Corp,” “Better to Give” and “sustainability.”

When I sat down with the HR Manager (my boss) a few weeks ago, it didn’t take us too long to map out how the UncommonGoods team could participate in Earth Day. We knew that with our team members’ dedication we could accomplish anything… So that’s why we presented Earth Week. Why NOT celebrate the Earth for more than one day?!

With Earth Week, we presented five day’s worth of challenges for our team members to partake in, and on the fifth day, we would celebrate our efforts, encourage lasting green-behaviors and feast over our accomplishments!

We didn’t necessarily set specific days for each task, but allowed team member’s to work at their own pace. Here’s how our week panned out.

#1 – Ride your bike to work or walk from the 45th Street station
Goal: 10 bike riders and 20 walkers

This was by far the easiest goal for our team member’s to reach. We have many people located close to our headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, so commuting via a green mode of transportation is pretty popular every day. Not only did we have our usual bikers participate, but we also had teams walk to and from the subway station together. Almost all exceeding our set goal of 45th Street (we are located at the 59th Street subway stop).

Marketing Associate Rocky Taft and Merchandising Associate Ne’Quana Rollings having fun on their commute to 36 Street


Little did these guys know, they weren’t the only ones that went the extra steps! (From left to right): Cassie Tweten Delaney, Community Moderator; Abi Treut, Marketing Assistant; Rachel Goldstein, Inventory Planning Analyst; Jason Gomer, Purchasing Associate


#2 – Bring in your #5 plastics to recycle through our Take-Five-Drive
Goal: 20 recyclers

NYC has some great recycling programs and anyone can contribute by donating their unwanted #5 plastics to a participating Whole Foods. This plastic is the thicker more durable kind used for yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, aerosal caps, etc. This plastic is recycled for use as a material for every day products, including toothbrushes (my boss’ personal fave).

Although we aimed high with this goal, we landed a bit short of reaching 20 recyclers, however, we had some great donations including deli containers and pill bottles, and we emptied our break room cabinets of unwanted take-out containers, which we are bringing to the recycling center later this week.

#3 – Help weed tree beds and plant flowers around the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Goal: 30 green thumbs

UncommonGoods resides in the historical Brooklyn Army Terminal, which was built in 1918 and was the site of Elvis Presley’s deployment to Germany in 1958 (hence the photo of The King in the lobby). One thing this industrial atmosphere lacks is a lot of green space.

Similar to what we did last Earth Day, we had over 30 volunteers take two hours out of their day to weed tree beds and plant flowers around the trees within and around the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We also watered and mulched around the trees that we planted bulbs around last year – hopefully we will see those beauties sprout within the next few weeks!

Lee Griffin, Area Operations Manager


Giovanna Rosario, Warehouse Team Lead; Kris Keenan, Merchandising Associate


David Anderson, Inbound Operations Coordinator; Nicole Wang, Accounting Assistant


Ray Franco, ITC Associate; Jackie Robinson, Warehouse Associate


Matt Monsees, Marketing Analyst; Matt Disla, Warehouse Team Lead; Morgan Tanner, Production Manager


Lauren Negron, Drop Ship Associate; Jazmin Abreu, Warehouse Associate


#4 – Go to the local greenmarket and earn a $10 reimbursement
Goal: 10 veggie lovers

A task too easy to be considered a challenge!

Another great thing about living in NYC is the array of green markets in every other neighborhood, every other day of the week. The accessibility to local, fresh fruits and veggies is just another perk of city life.

Our team member’s beat this challenge and many of them are wearing the title of “veggie lover” with pride.

#5 – Bring your own non-disposable place setting to our company lunch
Goal: 50 UGooders

On the final day, we asked all team member’s to bring a plate, cup and cutlery to our monthly company lunch, in replace of our sustainable disposable products. It was great to see our break room sink piled over in dishes and the bathroom sinks filled with soapsuds (despite our maintenance team’s short grumbles).

For this Earth-inspired company lunch, we chose to go all vegetarian and local as a direct effort to minimize our carbon footprint. We (my boss and I – foodie connoisseur and foodie novice) traveled to our favorite Brooklyn spots to fill the Mediterranean-inspired menu: Damascus Bread for pita and falafel, Sahadi’s for fresh feta and hummus, and Tanoreen for the main course of mini pies and vegetarian eggplant.

On the day of the event, we set out a Flower Wreath of Wishes for our team member’s to dedicate to Earth Day 2013. They were asked to write out a promise on a flower petal and place them on the wreath, which will soon be hung in our community break room as a reminder.

Kira Snyder, Marketing Analyst

Some of the most inspiring promises our team member’s made were:

“I will plant a tree.”

“I will request fewer samples from vendors.”

“I will try to use cloth diapers for Ben for at least one week!”

And one of my faves…

“Vegan for life!”

With another Earth Day in the UncommonGoods books, I am already pondering up ways for the team to celebrate in 2014. Have any suggestions? Share your thoughts below!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Press

July 25, 2012

Research
Since I am naturally an ice cream mix master (my first job in high school was with Coldstone Creamery!), I chose the Cuisipro Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Press for my experiment. Along with my mastered mixing techniques, I consider ice cream the seventh major food group and live off of the sweet stuff during the summer months.

Hypothesis
I think that I can make homemade ice cream sandwiches to cool off on a hot summer day.

Experiment
I knew this would be a fun project to work on during a hot Sunday afternoon with my brother, Colby. We first brainstormed what cookie and ice cream combinations would be the tastiest. I splurged on an Upstate NY favorite, Stewart’s ice cream. And we cheated a little bit on the cookies.

The first step was making the cookies!

Our little helper needed to take a break during the clean-up.

Once the cookies were out of the oven, we laid them out to cool. Note: I anxiously made the mistake of waiting only five minutes and I had a sloppy mess. You MUST wait for your cookies to be completely cool!

Once completely cooled, we started using our tools. Included in the package are three different sandwich shapes – a heart, a star and a circle. The directions are simple and printed on the back of the box – cut the cookie; scoop up the ice cream; cut the second cookie and twist the handle to press together; twist to release the sandwich.

Conclusion
What a delicious treat! We ended up with lovely heart shaped sugar cookies with black cherry ice cream, peanut buttery overloaded cookies with peanut butter cup ice cream, and star shaped double chocolate chunk cookies with a classic vanilla ice cream. After our sugar crash and hour-long nap from a hard-working afternoon, we went back for seconds!

I come from an awesome sweet-toothed family that celebrates spring with a party full of deserts, and I plan on making these for next year’s event. What a clever treat and fun activity!

The Uncommon Life

UG Team: Meet Jackie and Philomena

March 22, 2012

The UncommonGoods team is just as quirky, fun and uncommon as the products we sell. With a current total of 113 awesome UGooders, our diverse team is expanding with over a dozen new positions open in various departments.

So who have we recently welcomed among the many new faces in the Brooklyn Army Terminal?

Meet Jackie.

Jackie started as a seasonal team member in October 2011 within the Purchasing department. Since her arrival, Jackie has impressed her team all across the board and made a dent in our Merchandising team. Jackie is now the new Assistant Buyer in Jewelry and Accessories.

What is your UncommonFact?

My two children are Swedish citizens, but I am not!

What made you choose UG?

I was looking to get into retail after years of working in manufacturing, and was extremely interested in the idea of working with a web-based retailer. A friend of mine, who works specifically with B-Corp companies, recommended that I look into job opportunities at UG. I was already familiar with the company as a customer but after reading about the vision and mission, including B-Corp accountability, I was very impressed.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up not far from NYC, in Pequannock Township, NJ. I have lived in Manhattan for 18 years – five different apartments in four different neighborhoods.

And what do you like to do on the weekends?

Hang with friends, go to the beach, farmer’s market, and cook Swedish goodies with the kids!

Along with Jackie, meet Philomena.

Philomena started as our Purchasing Administrative Assistant in September 2011 and has joined our team as the Inventory Planning Assistant. We were very impressed with her infectious can-do attitude and fun-loving spirit.

What is your UncommonFact?

People say that I’m strange because I own over 100 pairs of socks. What can I say? Keeping my feet warm makes me feel good all over! Also, I lived in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong for 1 month in 2005 – it was the experience of a lifetime. It may not be too uncommon, but to me, it was the most exciting thing I have ever done.

What has been your most rewarding experience at UG?

Working in the Purchasing department, and with UG as a whole, is a reward in itself. From day one, the people here have made me feel a part of something more than myself. What I most enjoy is the opportunity to continuously learn about the company’s operation on a day to day basis. The one thing that I admire most about this company is that there are no limits.

What did you do before coming to UG?

I worked as a coordinator for a food corporation, handling the daily operations of ordering food, paper products, condiments and other products for sale to the company’s customers. I was solely responsible for reporting the weekly, monthly and quarterly reports of all products sold within our district.

Describe yourself in four words.

Family-oriented, easygoing, fun and outdoor-loving!

These ladies are among the many new faces to join the UG team permanently.

If you are interested or know anybody that might fit in well with the UG culture, check out all of our current open positions at www.uncommongoods.com/careers. There are plenty of opportunities within Operations, Merchandising, Purchasing, Technology, and more!