Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Christine Schmidt

September 7, 2017

Christine Schmidt soaking up the San Francisco sun, photos by Emily Hodges

Colorful. That describes the running theme inside Christine Schmidt’s home, and also sums up the very core of the artist’s personality. (What type of artist you might ask? Oh, just a printmaker, jewelry designer, illustrator, author, painter, and home decor extraordinaire.)

I was invited into Christine’s home to go behind the scenes of her quirky and offbeat jewelry pieces, like the Color Wheel Pendant and the Taco and Hot Sauce Mismatched Earrings (my personal favorite for obvious and delicious reasons). I knew the visit would be a success the moment Christine uttered the words, “Alexa, play 2 Dope Queens.”  The studio tour quickly unfolded into us playing with paints like art school girls and exchanging love-hate stories about New York City. We drank tea from mugs (that Christine designed herself) while listening to Jessica and Phoebe chuckling in the background. In my head, I’d basically found my new best friend in San Francisco.

Christine’s illustrations definitely bring out the playfulness in me and fill the Lisa Frank void I never even knew existed. Yet, what I admire even more is that Christine herself is super relatable and isn’t afraid to be different — very much like her jewelry designs. As an unapologetic feminist who naturally marches to the beat of her own drum, it’s no surprise that her company, Yellow Owl Workshop, has been a success for almost a decade. She also recently published her third crafting book, Make It Yours. Discover how Christine entered the world of design, what she loves most about San Francisco, and why she thinks you should never apologize.

 

Christine Schmidt’s Color Wheel Pendant

 

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Maker Stories

Talking Purpose, Fun, and Sustainable Design with Fred Conlon

September 6, 2017

Photo by Nan Chalat Noaker/Park Record

Fun fact: Utahan Fred Conlon has been working with us here at UncommonGoods for over ten years, and in all that time, we’ve only mentioned him on the blog a teeny-tiny handful of times. But it’s 2017, and we’re saying, “No more.” It’s time to give Fred his due the best way we know how, and that’s with his very own maker story.

Raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Fred’s the son of two high school English teachers, which may at least help to explain how he wound up with a degree in Public Communication despite his ambition to open a pottery shop. After a brief tour as a ceramicist, Fred transformed his shop into the full-time metalworking studio where he now crafts punny paperweights and his signature Gnome-Be-Gones, both fixtures of our assortment here at UG for the better part of the past decade. Read on for a Q&A with Fred that touches on inspiration, sustainability, and what makes his job so special. (We also took a couple of moments to scour his Instagram, the evidence of which, too, lies below.)

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will this Portable Phone Charger & Light Overpower the Other Guys?

September 5, 2017

Our Payroll and Benefits Administrator, Chantelle, is looking for a way to keep her phone good-to-go while she’s on the go.

Product

Portable Charger & Light

Research

I was looking for a new portable battery. I have a few good ones I use regularly, and they are a life saver when you have been snapping and tweeting all day. I hate receiving that dreadful notification: LOW BATTERY. When it appears on my screen, I die little inside. I’m always on the hunt for a new portable battery.

I go to a lot of tech events, snapping and tweeting my life away, so I wanted another battery to add to my collection. The color and design of this one first caught my eye, but I was skeptical about using it. In my experience, the more attractive the battery looks, the less likely I am to receive a full charge. Usually I receive only a slight boost. But I was willing to try it out.

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Maker Stories

Diagnosis: Talent. Dr. Martin Geller’s Pet Pedigree Poems

August 31, 2017
Dr. Martin Geller, acrostic poem king

Dr. Martin Geller, acrostic poem king

 

We’re proud of offering goods made by artists and makers from around the world. But we have a special, parental pride when a design’s DNA is 100% from the UncommonGoods “family”–like our Pet Pedigree Poem items. Unique from head to tail, these items, which are exclusive to UncommonGoods, feature an acrostic poem celebrating your breed’s special traits.

We have dog pillows, mugs, totes, and art for dogs and cats—including rescue cats.

The idea to mix paintings with acrostic poems came together serendipitously, and blended the skills and talents of the UncommonGoods Product Development team, led by Carolyn Topp (Director of New Business and Product Development), and Dr. Martin Geller, a retired psychiatric physician who is the father of UncommonGoods Senior Purchasing Planner (and not incidentally, organizer of our literary book club), Louise Geller.

Carolyn tells us how pets and poems came together in the creation of these unique items.

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The Uncommon Life

Americares: Responding to Hurricane Harvey

August 31, 2017

UPDATE 9/19/2017: Earlier this week, Americares airlifted $1.8 million in critical medicines and medical supplies for Hurricane Irma survivors throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, is predicted to plow through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting this evening. Visit americares.org for more updates on emergency response efforts for those caught in this hurricane season’s devastating paths.

UPDATE 9/11/2017: Americares has deployed emergency response experts to assist in relief efforts for communities in the path of Hurricane Irma. Before it reached Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma killed more than 25 people in the Caribbean and devastated several islands, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Click here to learn more about Americares response to Hurricane Irma.

UPDATE 9/7/2017: In addition to Americares continued Hurricane Harvey relief work, they have deployed a team to Puerto Rico to assist in response efforts for Hurricane Irma. The organization also has staff prepositioned in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and has a team ready to deploy to Florida. Click here for updates on how Americares is preparing for Hurricane Irma.

In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, we are partnering with Americares, an emergency response and global health organization, to help raise donations through our Better to Give program. When you choose Americares at checkout, we will donate $1 (at no cost to you) toward helping them provide urgent medicine and supplies to those affected by Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking rainfall and flooding. On average, for every $1 donation to Americares, they are able to provide $20 in aid.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer

August 29, 2017

Names, like looks, can be deceiving. After all, there’s nothing “simple” about the syrups that UG newcomers Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer create together in Columbus, Ohio. Crafted using organic cane sugar and ingredients sourced from local farms, Leah and Barb’s concoctions are all-natural, made in small batches, and, quite frankly, delicious. But that’s not all. Despite being busy moms—that’s how they met, after all—Barb and Leah have grown their business with their own two—er, four—hands, waking at the crack of dawn to get cooking, crossing state lines in the name of distribution, and hand-packing their fair share of tasty mixers, all as part of their first ever joint entrepreneurial endeavor.

When we learned of Barb and Leah’s successes (and saw what tasty flavors they’ve thought up), we knew we had to give them a welcome the only way we know how—that is, with their very own interview. We sat down on a real live phone line and spoke with the duo all about how they got started and how much they’ve grown, touching on victories, troubles, and touching mementos. Read on for more.

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Gift Guides

15 Unique (and Super Adorable) Baby Shower Gifts

August 25, 2017

For the special mamas-to-be in your crew, no ordinary gift will do. So when the baby shower invite arrives, don’t just follow her registry — rock the cradle and give the expecting parents something unexpected! With our creative baby shower gift guide, finding unique presents for wee ones has never been easier or more adorable. Whether you wrap up a laugh-out-loud babysuit or a stuffed animal with panache (and a poncho!), let her know from the very start that you’re going to go the extra mile for her bundle of joy. Your friend is making a human, after all. The least you could do is make a clever gift choice.

Baby Mermaid Tail | UncommonGoodsMermaid, merman… merbaby! Help Mom and Dad welcome their little guppy with a handmade, teeny-tiny tail blanket. | Baby Mermaid Tail

 

Taco Dreams Mobile | UncommonGoods

Let’s taco about the hottest gift around: Wee ones will feast their eyes on this cheery felt food mobile — until they take a siesta, that is. | Taco Dreams Mobile

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