Browsing Tag

Fair Trade

Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Paola Delgado’s Handmade, Sustainable Tagua Jewelry

October 23, 2017

It’s a familiar story. Talented woman takes on Wall Street, only to leave four years down the line and discover her true calling: ethical jewelry design. Okay, it’s not that familiar. And besides, the tale of Paola Delgado, Peruvian banker-turned-creative, has a bit more to it, including a pilgrimage to her home country and, of course, a dash of uncommon impact.

Driven by a desire to connect with others and an ambition to find herself, Paola left her job at Goldman Sachs in 2011 in search of a more meaningful path. From New York City, where her business is now headquartered, she traveled to her native Peru, where she delved unexpectedly into a craft she’d enjoyed as a child. You guessed it: We mean jewelry-making. Following a bit of soul-searching, Paola decided to turn her hobby into her job, soliciting artisans in Ecuador and Peru to produce designs in her signature material, tagua seed. Harvested sustainably from pods that fall from local palms, tagua offers a cruelty-free alternative to ivory that minimizes damage to the environment and looks pretty darn good when carved by the artisans in Paola’s employ.

Paola, center, with two members of her all-female roster of artisans

When we first heard Paola’s story, we knew we had to talk to her one on one. Read on for more on Paola’s journey, from the difficulty associated with saying “tupananchiskama” to financial stability to the logic behind her recent choice to work with only women artists, and find out just what makes her creations so special.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Sowing
Seeds of Good with Clarissa the
Curious Cat Planter

September 14, 2017

Khalil Ahmed, right, and a fellow metalworker crafting kitties just outside of Moradabad.

Moradabad, India, is a big city. Situated on the banks of the Ramganga River, it boasts a population of nearly 900,000 and an active handicrafts industry that accounts for a significant portion of the country’s artisan exports. Though it’s best known for its brass wares, local workers craft a wide variety of goods for international distribution, from handmade paper notebooks to mosaic vases made from discarded glass. And in the atelier of Khalil Ahmed, an ironworker stationed a mere 12 kilometers from Moradabad proper, Clarissa the Curious Cat Planter comes to life.

When you first lay eyes on Clarissa, you’re probably struck by the cuteness of her little iron nose, or the artful curve of her accompanying tail. What you likely don’t realize is that Clarissa’s cuddly (if metallic) exterior does a whole lot of good beyond the obvious act of putting a smile on your face. Her creator, Khalil, is part of a growing group of local artisans that benefit from the support of an organization known as Noah’s Ark, an international export house that’s been serving the area for nearly 30 years under the watchful eye of Moradabad native Samuel Masih.

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Design

Secondhand Saris, Firsthand Fair Trade Fashion

April 8, 2012

This new sari handbag was brought into our assortment with the feedback and support of 558 customers.

Indian women have worn saris, beautiful, often embellished sheets of fabric, for hundreds of years. The traditional garment can be worn in many ways, but every sari, no matter how lovely, will eventually be draped a final time.

Fortunately, the gorgeous fabrics don’t have to go to waste when the sari no longer serves its traditional purpose. Artisans in India wash and repair the cottons, rayon, and silks from secondhand saris, then transform them into fashionable, functional handbags.

The one-of-a-kind creations are handmade by skilled craftswomen who are given a fair wage, allowing them to earn a living while staying in their villages near family instead of having to travel to bigger cities.

After the fabric is cleaned, the craftswomen cut it into vibrant strips and organize it to ensure that each bag expresses rich color combinations, from bright jewel tones to deep earth tones. Since saris are often patterned, sometimes quite elaborately, each bag also features interesting details within individual fabric strips.

The artisans hand-sew the fabric strips to the white cotton lining, creating the light, ruffled look of the bag. To add to the functionality of the piece, a wooden toggle and a fabric cord are both attached for fastening.

The finished product caught our attention, but this product story really pulled us in and we couldn’t wait to share it with our community. We were thrilled to find that our community voting app users stood behind the product, too.

“I think this is a beautiful bag and the cost is very reasonable,” Michelle told us via the voting app. “I plan on buying it and knowing that each bag is different make it even better! I will not see this bag coming and going.”

Nataly drew on her own experiences to add her feedback. “Reminds me of my travels in India, how I always noticed that no matter how remote the location and how outdoor the environment, they keep their Saris SOOO vibrant and beautiful,” she wrote. “Every where you look–bold statement making colors.”

We also saw a ton of Facebook and Twitter love for the Sari Bag. “Love this bag! I think saris are so beautiful. What better way to reuse them?” @kellyatate tweeted.

We love seeing such enthusiastic support for our potential products and we’re pleased that this fair trade, handmade, upcycled bag is now an uncommon good!

Maker Stories

This Just In: Embroidered Pouches

September 15, 2011

For more than a decade artist Jenny Krauss has been designing beautiful embroidered fashion accessories. During this time, she’s also enlisted the help of exceptionally talented South American artisans.

Although the women Jenny works with are skilled craftspeople, many had previously been unable to find sustainable income due to economic circumstances in their country, Peru. By embroidering bags, belts, and other accessories under fair trade guidelines, these women are now able to achieve financial stability.

Jenny’s latest creations, the flowers and circles pouches, were designed with the help of this artisan group. The artisans collaborated on the style and patterns, while Jenny requested certain colorways and oversaw the process.

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Design

Get Comfy, Drink to Fun & Make an Impression

June 30, 2011

Independence Day is almost here, but before you ooh and awe over that fireworks display, save some of that wide-eyed wonder to gaze upon our radiant new goods. These bright ideas are just out of our Community Voting App, and we’ve got more where that came from! Read what our voters said about these wild pillows, fun flasks and printed pendants, then share your thoughts on the next batch of potential new goods!

Safari Animal Pillows

Jennifer said: “These are super fun!”

Sanriobaby said: “Love these pillows and they would work so well in a child/nursery room as decoration only.”

Handmade by HSSS Artisans in India, these pillows are soft, vibrant and 100% cotton. You loved these fun animal designs and that the set is made using traditional artisan techniques, which you can learn more about by reading the Product Story on our website.

Bottoms Up Flask



Emilie said: “Cute, and pretty good price.”

This star of this flashy flask takes the phrase “bottoms up” literally! You loved that the circus inspired illustration, the stainless steel container and that this product is made in the USA.

If you love this colorful contortionist, you might also enjoy designer Kaycee BinnsWingman and Holy Water flasks.

Custom Fingerprint Necklace

Brianna said: “I love this idea and would not hesitate to get it! it is so unique and special! Something I would keep forever.”

Nicole said: “This is such a beautiful, romantic concept. Can it get any more uncommon? I think not:)”

This special necklace takes personalization to a whole new level! Artist Jackie Kaufman gives you the chance to take part in her artistic process by sending you a special kit which allows you to make a mold of your unique fingerprint. After you send Jackie your mold, she creates this sterling silver heart pendant. You loved that this custom pendant is as one-of-a-kind as you can get!

Want to see more new goods and potential products? Check out other product design posts. Each week we’ll show off a few of our latest Community Approved goods, so tell us what you think, and next week your comments could be featured in our roundup!

Gift Guides

Ten Gifts for the Green-Hearted

November 18, 2010

We asked you what kinds of gifts you were shopping for and we heard green, fair trade, & sustainable. So our gift to you: a guide of the best gifts to give with a conscious this holiday season:

Black Floral Belt: Like a casual treasure discovered in an open market far, far away, this textured statement piece is a brilliant way to add color and craftsmanship to my uniform of jeans and tees. But the best part? It’s hand-embroidered with curly wool thread by Fair Trade artisans in Peru. Plus: Julia Roberts wears one on in Eat, Pray, Love. (Just saying.)

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The Uncommon Life

Eat, Pray, Love, Wear

September 16, 2010

We wouldn’t want to imply that a fashion accessory can bring you the sort of answers that Julia Roberts seeks in her new film, Eat, Pray, Love, but we did want to point out the handmade, fair trade black floral belt that Julia Roberts wears as she explores Italy, India and Indonesia.

We just learned this morning from the belt’s designer, Jenny Krauss. Jenny works with artisans in Bolivia and Peru who handweave these belts from a curly wood thread.  She found meaning in her life by working to make sure these women had a market to sell their crafts. “It’s important to give and empower those less fortunate,” she says. “Most people don’t have a lot of opportunity to better their lives, so it feels good to be able to contribute something empowering and sustainable.”

You can support these fair trade artisans, get started on your own personal journey, and pick out your own belt at UncommonGoods.

From what I hear, Julia Roberts’ character eats a lot of pasta while she’s traveling through Italy. Luckily this black floral belt can be let out a few notches as needed.

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