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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Shana King

July 18, 2013
Shana King | UncommonGoods
Shana King, UncommonGoods Merchandising Assistant

My hometown is…
Born in Brooklyn NY; raised in Newport News, VA.

My favorite UncommonGoods product in my category is…
Sea Serpent Garden Sculpture, by Chris Crooks. (It was the first product I presented at company lunch as a merch assistant, and it is KILLING IT!!!!)

I’m inspired by…
My daughter; she is amazing, has breathed new life into my world, and always gives me reason to push forward. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’D DO WITHOUT THAT LITTLE GIRL!

My guilty pleasure is…
Baked mac ‘n’ cheese.

An uncommon fact about me…
I was 6 months pregnant before I found out!

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
Home!

The word that best describes me…
Hard worker! (Two words.)

Since working at UncommonGoods I’ve learned…
All about sustainability!

Would you rather…Eat your favorite food for every meal for a week OR not get to eat your favorite food for a year?
Eat my favorite meal every day for a week.

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet NéQuana Rollings

July 15, 2013
NéQuana Rollings, UncommonGoods Associate Buyer-Tabletop

My hometown is…
Bronx, NY. But I’ve been living in Brooklyn for 18 years.

My favorite UncommonGoods product in my category is…
The Pinch and Dash Salt and Pepper Shaker Set.

I’m inspired by…
Colors, sounds, feelings..nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. There is inspiration in everything.

My guilty pleasure is…
Children’s snacks. If there is a snack targeted towards kindergarten students to fifth graders, I’m on it.

An uncommon fact about me…
I barely watch television. I watch TV approximately 0-2 hours a week (2 hours is a major stretch).

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
Everyone I know can answer this for me. Chipotle!! Whoop! I visit their site just to drool at the images (lame, greedy..call it what you want!).

The word that best describes me…
Ethical.

Working at UncommonGoods, I’ve learned…
That there are more people [like myself] who do things for others without looking for repayment.

Would you rather… Have to stay up for 24 hours straight, but get a front row spot to see your choice of band/artist perform after you’ve deprived yourself of sleep OR get to sleep in as late as you want every day for a week?
This is harder than I thought, because I love to chill in bed. I have stayed up 24 hours straight—so I’d choose to stay up a whole day to sit front row at a Nas concert. (Backstage would be better…)

The Uncommon Life

Our 8 Favorite Motivational Quotes

June 21, 2013

Each month we get the opportunity to learn a little bit more about one of our artists by stepping inside their studio to see where and how they work. These visits are always inspiring, and we’re always amazed at how every artist and designer who opens their door to us also opens our minds with a wealth of wisdom.

One of the questions we always ask when we stop by a studio is “what quote keeps you motivated?” The quotes always make us smile, and get us going…and they also got us thinking. Since our artists have graciously shared their favorite quotes with us, we decided to share ours with you.

As Senior Merchandising Manager and Head Buyer, Erin is all about finding products that really stand out. She’s not afraid to show her true colors, either, and shared her favorite quote found on etsy.

Gaby’s blog posts often feature awesome advice from our design community, and she’s always happy to share what she’s loving from around the web, so it’s no surprise that she found this Woody Allen quote on Design Love Fest.

Kira, on the other hand, dug up a quote from her own history instead of her browser history. This Marketing Analyst hasn’t changed much over the years. (Though her hair color has.)

Kim, who coordinates our quality control team, was so inspired by these words of wisdom from Walt Disney that she got a permanent reminder to follow her dream.

Quality assurance specialist Seneca also shared an aphorism from someone with a big imagination. She keeps this Michael Jackson quote by her desk.


Sometimes keeping that reminder to follow your dreams, think before you act, or preserver near is all it takes to get though a tough time. So, I decided to write down my favorite quote. (I grew up in Minnesota, so the symbolism of a long, cold winter really hits a nerve.)


Our Founder and CEO, Dave, shared this quote that roughly translates to “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” The saying originated in WWII and became the motto of Army General “Vinegar” Joe Stillwell, but it was also something Dave’s mom used to say while he was growing up. The words had such an impact, that they inspired him to develop one of our products, the “Illegitimi Non Carborundum” Paperweight.

Tabletop Buyer Candace’s quote is an appropriate way to end our roundup. This message from Hello Jack Design is a reminder that when you’re having a rough day, it’s okay to fight back.

What quote do you turn to when you need a little motivation?

The Uncommon Life

Our Homemade Beer Tasting Brew-haha

June 13, 2013

Some believe that Plato said, “It was a wise man who invented beer.” While Plato probably never actually said that, and we don’t know who exactly came up with the ingenious idea to turn cereal into booze, we do know how to make beer. Or I should say, we learned, thanks to our exclusive Craft a Brew Beer Brewing Kits.

To make sure our educational experience was comprehensive, we decided to test each of our new home brew flavors by comparing them during an in-office beer tasting; but first, we had to wrangle some brewers.

The Brewers

Warehouse Operations Coordinator Bradley cooked up a batch of Southern Bourbon Stout, Product Development Associate Sarah celebrated her home state with the Texas Chipotle Amber, Marketing Analyst Kira revisited beer making by giving the West Coast IPA a try, and Marketing Analyst Matt tapped into his inner lumberjack by bottling some Vermont Maple Porter.

The goal was to keep this competition fair and balanced, but Brad did make an attempt to pick up some bonus points by adding a personal touch to his finished product. Kira went another route and, knowing that the way to a beer judge’s heart is through the stomach, brought some homemade pretzels. (She insists that these were for the purpose of palate cleansing between sips, and were no way intended as a bribe.)

There is also some suspicion that two of the contestants may have been in cahoots.

While it wasn’t too hard to get the brewers on board, recruiting judges was almost too easy. (Apparently, people jump at product testing opportunities when they involve delicious adult beverages.)

The Judges

Copywriter Stephanie, Director of Marketing Brian, and Systems Administrator Paul agreed to sample the goods.

With beer flavor checklists in hand, the judges tried each carbonated creation. Here are some beer basics discovered during the tasting.

West Coast IPA
Kira’s brewing tip: “Be Tall. It’s hard to pour things!” You have to place the strainer on top of a funnel on top of the carboy, so a step stool (or a short table) may be required to help shorter folks make beer with ease.

Judges’ Notes: Stephanie said “it definitely smells like an IPA,” but upon tasting said that this IPA “isn’t super hoppy.” She commented on notes of “citrus” and described the flavor as “75 degrees and sunny.” The beer was served cold, though. Just for clarification, the IPA could be described as tasting like a summer’s day.

Brian agreed that the beer “tastes like California,” and said that it may be a good choice for someone who doesn’t love IPAs, since it’s not too “IPA-ie.”

Texas Chipotle Amber
Sarah’s Brewing Tip: “It’s a weekend project, because it does take a while to set up.”

Judges’ Notes: Brian called this brew “ridiculously good,” “smokey and spicy,” and “interesting.” Paul agreed with the interesting comment, and added that it was “fresh,” and had “a hook…not a gimmick.”

Stephanie also called out the unique spiciness of the beer, and said she was a fan of the “big, bold Texas flavor.”

Southern Bourbon Stout
Bradley’s Brewing Tip: “Malt, grains, and patience.” He also reminded us that his kit took a little longer to brew, on account of the extra step of soaking oak chips in bourbon to infuse the beer.

Judges’ Notes: Paul was near-ecstatic about the subtle, unexpected sweetness of this stout. He described it as “almost like eating cookie dough.” Brian agreed that it was sweeter than expected, but said that though the smell was intense, like a “shot of vanilla,” the actual taste held a “multitude of flavors.”

The judges agreed that the bourbon taste was there, but it wasn’t overpowering.

Vermont Maple Porter

Matt’s Brewing Tip: “Read the instructions before you start, and make sure to sanitize everything.” Matt’s tip came about after a bit of a brewing faux pas. It turns out, that his inner lumberjack was actually neglected–he forgot to add the maple syrup.

Judges’ Notes: “It’s hard to judge accurately without the syrup,” said Stephanie. But, despite the porter’s syrup-less-ness, she called it “creamy,” “very malty,” and “smooth drinking.”

Brian didn’t appreciate the deviation from the recipe. “Matt’s renegade style often gets him in trouble,” he said. “This is another example of that.”

Paul was also unhappy with the not-maple porter, and decided to add some syrup after the fact. This improvisation is not recommended.

When the flights were finally empty, the judges all agreed on a favorite. While the Bourbon stout was a close second and “equally as good [taste-wise as the winner],” according to Brian, the champion was the Texas Chipotle Amber, which is “more memorable.”

Sarah took home the prize (which is the knowledge that she chose the beer kit the judges liked best) and all involved in our brew-haha finished the remaining spicy chipotle, (sans) maple porter, subtly sweet stout, and refreshing IPA.