Maker Stories

Bending Stereotypes:
Dan Abramson’s Yoga Joes

November 11, 2016

Dan Abramson | Yoga Joes | UncommonGoods

When Dan Abramson was brainstorming with a friend in a coffee shop back in 2014, he hadn’t intended to start a movement. The art director, who had founded the tongue-in-cheek “manly” yoga accessories company Brogamats two years prior, was “trying to come up with a funny way to get more men to do yoga,” he recalled. “We were wondering, What can we do to make yoga more macho?” He considered a series of videos of men at construction sites or at football games striking the poses. Then, said Dan, “I thought, What if we had classic green army men doing yoga?

Yoga Joes - Green Army Men Practicing Traditional Yoga Poses

The San Francisco resident, who’d started doing yoga himself to heal a back injury, thought he had simply come up with a good video joke: “I thought we could do it on Reddit [with existing figures] and it would be funny for a day.” But after a great deal of research into plastics, he realized he could actually make the figures, posing them the way he wanted. So Dan worked to create a set of classic, plastic army figures arranged in postures such as Downward Dog and Warrior One and put his concept on Kickstarter. “It ended up blowing it out of the water!” he shared. “It raised way more money than I anticipated and had a huge audience.”

Something else happened that Dan hadn’t expected: A large number of those who donated were associated with the military—veterans, active service members, and loved ones of military members. “I started getting really heartfelt messages,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea that there was such a huge community of people doing yoga in the military.” Emails poured in from workers in veterans’ affairs, vets adjusting to life after service and loved ones of veterans. Some emails recalled happy stories, others tragic memories. But most of the messages shared a common thread: Yoga could save service members’ lives if only the practice could spread across the military community. “It was incredibly humbling,” said Dan. “I knew then I had a responsibility to do this well and do it right.”

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Gift Guides

Pet Gifts for Animal Lovers and their Cuddly Counterparts

November 10, 2016

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If you’re anything like us, your pets are pretty much part of the family. There’s nothing like the wags of joy you receive when you come home to your pup after a long day, or the purr of appreciation your cat gives in return for a simple scratch behind the ear. We can all learn something from the unconditional love our pets give us daily, and the holiday season is the perfect time to start spreading those warm, fuzzy feelings. Impress your fur-babies and your pet-obsessed friends with these irresistibly adorable finds.

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Gift Guides

Our Best Gifts for $25 and Under

November 9, 2016

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Maybe you got a jump on seasonal shopping this year and picked up presents for the family early. Relieved, you thought you could sit back and relax until it was time to ring in the new year. Then you realized that Secret Santa exchange is still looming. And you need somethings to say “thanks for your hard work” for your postal carrier. And a little surprise for the friend that’s been there for you all year would be a kind gesture. Oh yeah, and there are still stockings in line to be stuffed. Your holiday list may be an unexpectedly long one, but that doesn’t mean you have to go over your budget. This collection of great gifts for $25 and less is sure to help you get a handle on that holiday shopping (for real this time).

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Gift Guides

Empowering Gifts
Celebrating Strong Women

November 9, 2016

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It’s likely you have more than a few strong women in your life, and the holidays are the perfect time to celebrate all they’ve accomplished. Whether she’s a CEO, a miracle-working mom, or simply a lovely lady who deserves something special, we’ve handpicked a list of gifts that’ll give her a healthy dose of inspiration and show you hold her in high esteem.

 

Now she can keep this inspiring mantra close at hand: she believed she could, so she did – a beautiful message all about moving forward. | She Believed She Could Bangle

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Emilie Shapiro

November 7, 2016
Emilie Shapiro Portrait

Emilie Shapiro in her Long Island City studio, Photos by Rachel Orlow

Since I’ve started working at UG, Emilie Shapiro is a name I’ve heard often. (And here’s a fun fact: she used to be a regular Emily like me, but rebelled against our all-too-common name and switched to the “ie” ending at age 13). We carry many of her stunning, raw gemstone jewelry pieces, and everyone at the office sort of fan-girls about her work. So when I heard that Emilie was up for a studio tour, I was psyched to be on the invite list.

I set off expecting the drive from my home in suburban Long Island to Long Island City, Queens to be less than pleasant, and unfortunately I was right. After a hectic morning crawling down Queens Boulevard and searching for a parking spot for what felt like hours, arriving at Emilie’s sunny studio was a welcome respite.

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From the moment we cracked open the door, the vibe at the studio was easy and welcoming. We were sort of a big crew–our blog editor, our jewelry buyer, our photographer, our SEO specialist/jewelry-lover, and myself–but Emilie and another maker who she works with, Erica, were totally accommodating. They offered us apples and coffee and turned on some classic rock. They let us drool over the gorgeous pieces they had on display. Emilie urged us to try on whatever we wanted, which was basically everything.

Our blog team has visited Emilie before, but not since she moved to her new studio space. And this time, we were lucky enough to watch her in action – she did a demo for us on how she sets the striking Waterfall Ring. Following our lesson, we got to chat with her about how she’s grown as an artist and business owner, teaching others the craft, and even a bit about her family. Turns out, her grandfather once had a toy factory in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, UG’s home! We must be kindred spirits.

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Gift Guides

Gifts for your BCF (Best Couple Friends)

November 7, 2016

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Some people just get a BFF, but you’re lucky enough to have BCF (Best Couple Friends). There’s no such thing as a “third wheel” when you’re hanging with your Best Couple Friends. They’re your Cory and Topanga, Marshall and Lily, Chandler and Monica. They’re always up for a double date, and usually don’t mind when you tag along as a single on their nights out. You play Dr. Phil when you catch them in the midst of a disagreement and they play “mom and dad” when yours are out of reach. They’re your favorite people, and you can’t imagine one without the other. Show your gratitude of those times you accidentally did interrupt their date night and gift them something they can share as couple with these BCF gift ideas below!

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Gift Guides

Uncommon Adornments for the
Jewelry Lover

November 4, 2016

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Since the most ancient of times, humans have found ways to beautify themselves with a bit of extra sparkle. We use jewelry to express our perspectives in unique ways, to speak without words. Our most precious pieces become keepsakes, passed down along generations. Often, what seems like a just a simple stone or a plain chain can communicate enormous personal value.

We all have a friend who takes this love of jewels to a whole new level. Their outfits are always expertly accessorized. Their jewelry box is like a treasure trove. What to gift this jewelry-lover who already seems to have it all? We’ve put together some of our most uncommon pieces that are sure to impress any adornment-enthusiast.

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