Gift Guides

Our Guide to Seventh Anniversary Gifts: Cool Copper and Welcoming Wool

July 27, 2017

The seventh anniversary, some may say, has a little something for everyone. With sturdy copper and fluffy wool both granted a spot on the traditional list for the year, lovers of shiny metals and soft stuff alike will be easy to please. Luckily, both wool and copper are versatile materials, finding their way into craft kits, decorative bowls, and comfy pillows alike, making it easy to find something to please every type of spouse, from do-it-yourself lovers to seasoned interior decorators. Meanwhile, devotees of the modern list will find it’s a great year to be a worker bee, with desk sets granted the coveted seventh spot. Read on for ten of our top traditional picks—five copper, five wool—plus a desk set that packs some serious personal punch.

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Design

In Praise of Sound Design: Introducing the Public Radio

July 25, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Public Radio – Single Station Tuner is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

Modernity can be a little overwhelming. Don’t get us wrong, of course; the internet is an amazing tool, and smartphones make virtually everything easier, from navigating the wildlands otherwise known as the subway system to finding out whether it’s going to rain in fifteen minutes or if that cloud’s just looking a bit more angry than usual. We agree: These are all good things. But sometimes an escape from the wealth of information our era provides seems awfully luxurious. Sometimes you just want to turn your phone off for like, one second. And sometimes you’d rather not wonder which one of the hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there you should listen to today. You’d rather flip a switch, hear one thing (and one thing only), and move on with your life, complex as it already is.

Spencer, left, and Zach

Enter the Public Radio – Single Station Tuner, brainchild of media and sound technologist Zach Dunham and his childhood friend Spencer Wright, a manufacturing strategist. A breath of fresh air among the seemingly endless streaming options in today’s digital landscape, the Public Radio – Single Station Tuner radically simplifies your listening experience. Tuned to a single FM station of your choice, it has only one knob, for volume control. And while lowercase public radio (or, y’know, Hot 97) devotees will appreciate the ease with which they can tune into their favorite station, design aficionados will take to the gadget’s thoughtful construction, which allows it to fit into any wide-mouth Mason jar—not only the cute, compact half-pint variety it ships with.

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The Uncommon Life

Our Guide to Sixth Anniversary Gifts: An Ironclad Bond… That’s Sweet as Candy

July 24, 2017

Traditional sixth anniversary gift-givers will be relieved to discover that they have two materials to choose from this time around, and the pair couldn’t be more opposed if it tried. Your options? Candy… and iron. How the two came to coexist as traditional sixth anniversary gifts, we may never know, but it’s our duty to report on them, and so we’ve amassed ten suggestions to fill the void—five that incorporate sugary treats, and five our favorite heavy metal, plus, of course, one modern gift, a reprise of our most recent post in wood.

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Maker Stories

Touch, Technology, and Giving Back: Meet John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen, Creators of the Long Distance Touch Lamp

July 24, 2017

Imagine a technology that allows you to show loved ones you’re thinking of them–not with a phone call, not with a text, but with a soft, colorful glow. John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen, a married couple looking to foster unique connections with their faraway family members, made it happen with their Long Distance Touch Lamps. With just a simple tap on the top of your touch lamp, you can illuminate another connected lamp anywhere around the world—sending a message of love without words.

Here at UncommonGoods, John and Vanessa’s lamps have proven to be a huge hit, connecting faraway friends and family members with a little bit of Wi-Fi-powered magic. Read on to hear from John about the winding path he took to get to the Touch Lamp‘s creation—from playing the violin professionally, to working as an electrical engineer, to working closely with non-profit organizations to bring his and Vanessa’s shining idea to families and friends all over the world.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Fifth Anniversary Gifts: Knock on Wood

July 21, 2017

Your fifth anniversary is a big milestone, and one you should celebrate happily—after all, you’re 1/10 of the way to year 50! But it’s not time to start giving gold yet; on the contrary, “wood” is the word for your fifth year together, and, if you’re feeling kinda modern, so is “silverware.” With so many options for wooden gifts—from furniture to cutting boards to Jenga to, well, trees—it can be difficult to sift through your options and choose something that’s sure to speak to your spouse. That’s where we come in, with an uncommon spin on ten traditional fifth anniversary gift ideas, like clocks, cutting boards, picture frames, and wall art… plus, as always, one modern-themed gift to quench your thirst for the contemporary. Read on below.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Fourth Anniversary Gifts: A Fresh Take on Fruits and Flowers

July 18, 2017

Four years in and the Fs keep coming, by which, of course, we mean “fruit” and “flowers,” the two alliterative gifts traditionally given to mark your fourth anniversary. “But wait,” you stammer. “You sell fresh fruit?” Well, no. “And fresh flowers?” Again—negatory. Could we rightfully call ourselves uncommon if we sold stuff you could get at your nearest corner store? I think not. All the more reason why the fruity, flowery gifts we do sell, from pens made with rose petals, seeds, and stems to copper cuffs covered in layers of specially dried and thinly sliced fruit, are so special. Read on for ten of our top fourth anniversary picks—five floral, five fruity—and, as always, one additional pick for our modern cohorts. (This time, you get your very own appliance.)

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The Uncommon Life

Happy “B” Day to Us! Celebrating 10 Years as a B Corp

July 16, 2017

Throughout the month, we are celebrating our 10th “B” Day! (Not to be confused with the birth of our company that happened waaay back in 1999.) Our “B” Day commemorates our official initiation into the B Corp community, a community of businesses that have successfully passed a B Corp Assessment. The assessment scores companies on how they’re building better businesses by taking care of their workers, their customers, the community, and the environment. In 2007, we stood with 42 other companies and signed a declaration of interdependence proclaiming our mission to use our company as a force for good. Over the next few weeks we’ll be celebrating this in ways that relate to all of the key areas that are measured by B Lab (the non-profit that is in charge of the B Corp Assessment and the certification process). In honor of this exciting anniversary, we’re taking a look back on what’s happened through the years with our B Corp score, the B Corp movement, and to throw in a little extra fun, the world at large over this decade-long stretch.

2007:

B Corp: And so it begins! Our first Impact score: 97
UG: In searching for an assessment process to internally audit our practices to show that we are practicing what we preach in terms of our societal and environmental commitments, our founder and CEO, Dave Bolotsky, committed UncommonGoods to be a founding B Corp. We’re one of 43 companies to be recognized with this distinction.
And also this: The seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series is released.

2008:

B Corp: The first B Corp Champions Retreat is hosted in California.
UG: We say so long to Manhattan and complete our move to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
And also this: Barack Obama is elected, becoming the first person of color to serve as president of the United States.

2009:

B Corp: The number of certified B Corps grew to 205 in 54 industries in 28 states.
UG: We make it Facebook official.
And also this: Water is discovered on the moon.

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Gift Guides

Our Guide to Third Anniversary Gifts: A Love as Tough as Leather

July 13, 2017

You’re three years in, and the gifts you’re picking are getting a bit more sturdy—just like the foundation of your relationship. In the latest installment of our series of guides to picking anniversary gifts, we’re tackling leather, the material traditionally used to toast your third anniversary… in theory, anyway. Here at UncommonGoods, we actually don’t sell any products that contain leather, feathers, or fur, thanks in part to our vegetarian founder, Dave Bolotsky. Thankfully, we carry plenty of animal-friendly goods made from sturdy vegan leather alternatives, some as innovative as dried-and-dyed strips of orange peel. Check out some of our top picks to celebrate your third anniversary in conscious style below, plus one bonus selection for the modern-minded among us.

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