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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Amie & Matt Van Susteren–Spreading Sustainable Holiday Cheer

December 7, 2015

As a B Corp certified company, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green” – we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always excited to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

Filling Snowflake Boxes

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft – those who are making an uncommon impact. Meet the owners of Nestled Pines Woodworking, Amie and Matt Van Susteren — who make Maple (and Cherry) Wood Personalized Snowflake Ornaments — and see the ways that they’re helping preserve forests.

Living in Lone Rock, Wisconsin — about an hour west of Madison — is inspiration enough to make sustainable art, Amie tells us. “We’re on the Wisconsin River nestled in a valley. There are coyotes wandering through the backyard. It’s everything idyllic you can imagine about Wisconsin,” she says. “It’s beautiful, and there are so many resources here to be inspired by and pull from.”

Amie and Matt Van Susteren

Amie and Matt Van Susteren 

Seven years ago, the couple decided they wanted to change their lives and embark on a creative endeavor together — but they wanted to make sure any eco footprint from their business would be small. “That part was a no-brainer,” says Amie. “I can’t even imagine not moving forward under this philosophy.” Next, the painter and her hardwood-floor-making husband looked around to see what was at their disposal. “You’re sustainable by using what you have,” she explains. “That’s our motto.”

Forests are plentiful in their area, so it’s not a surprise that, as Amie says, “the wood came first.” Establishing their source material helped them see the laser wood cutter they’d recently acquired in a different light. “It was, ‘Well, we have this and we have this — what can we do with it?’” The answer: intricate wooden ornaments. “There’s a market for crafts in the U.S. and holiday ornaments always feel special,” says Amie. “There’s that sensation you have when you pull your ornaments out every year and they’re new all over again. We want our customers to get as much joy out of the product as we get out of making the work.”

Continue Reading…


What items are you most eager to add to your inventory?

November 16, 2015

We are passionate about showcasing creative product design here at UncommonGoods. Our buyers search high and low for unique products that come complete with a compelling story behind the who, what, where, when, why, and how they are made. As we prepare for the end of year madness that is the holiday season, take a peek at what our buyers have on their wish lists for the New Year.


Megan Stickel, Assistant Buyer – Children, Desktop & Leisure

I’m looking for a variety of items to grow our children’s category. I’m particularly looking for items that inspire creative problem solving like prompt journals. Our Portachair Harness is a good example of a product that creatively solves a problem. I’m also looking for creative memory keeping ideas (e.g. storage, journals, personalized products) in addition to musical items for older kids, decor items for kids (e.g. rugs, lamps, and bedding). High on my wishlist are also science kits and DIY kits that are not mass distributed. These are particularly hard to find. Handmade games followed by interesting and accessible musical instruments are at the top of my wishlist for our leisure category. I’m also looking for arts and crafts tools/accessories (e.g. handmade knitting needles) and cool tech at accessible price points. Our Magnetic Bike Lights and DIY Smartphone Projector are good examples of what I’m looking for on the tech side.


Jamie Hoffman, Buyer – Home Decor, Garden, & Seasonal 

For our home decor category, I’m looking for creative storage solutions like bookshelves, key holders/racks and coat racks. I’m also keen on finding new bath caddies and accessories in addition to up-cycled or unique lighting (e.g. reading lamps, table lamps), and area rugs. For our garden category, I’m looking for indoor planters with personality that integrate form with function. Weather instruments (e.g. rain gauges, outdoor thermometers), wind spinners, kinetic garden sculptures, sun-catchers, birdhouses, and bird feeders also rank high on my wishlist.


NeQuana Rollings, Associate Buyer – Tabletop

Eating utensils/flatware are at the top of my wishlist in addition to everyday drinking glasses, serveware (e.g. bowls and platters), and wedding registry-friendly items.


Sharon Hitchcock, Buyer – Jewelry

Mother’s Day is a big holiday for us, so I’m definitely looking for jewelry that creatively represents motherhood or grand-motherhood. In fact, I’m looking for jewelry that celebrates women! Our Strong Women Pendant necklace is doing well, so I think this is a huge opportunity in jewelry, especially with Hillary in the running for the White House. I’m also looking for watches (men’s and women’s) with intelligent design where form meets function. The watchbands must be vegan without any PVC. Last, but certainly not least, on my most-wanted list are well-priced earrings (ideally under $50) for self-purchase that can stand alone (they don’t have to be matchy-matchy with a necklace).


Jackie Udden, Associate Buyer – Jewelry & Accessories

I’m looking for jewelry holders in various materials and functionality that are decorative, but functional. These can be in the form of ceramic, wood, or metal wall hangers and pedestals. I’d also like to expand our collection of ties. I’m looking for ties that are whimsical and intelligent and that can express someone’s personality, hobbies, interests, and profession without being too novel. I’m also keen on finding more bags. I’m looking for mostly handbags, but also bags for men in all silhouettes and price points. All bags must be 100% vegan without vinyl or PVC.


We’re only as successful as our artists and designers, so if you have a product that you think is uncommon enough to join our assortment then feel free to submit through our online form or reach out to one of our buyers.


Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Practical Design Meets Practicing Better Business

October 1, 2015

As a B Corp certified company, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green” – we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always excited to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft – those who are making an uncommon impact.

Meet Lishu and Leonardo Rodriguez, founders of fellow B Corp El Dot Designs, which specializes in mindfully-sourced home furnishings that have a positive impact on the lives of the people who make them. Their work is as much about sustaining the environment as it is about providing economic opportunity for disadvantaged women and minority artisans, all the while nurturing the traditional craftsmanship behind practical modern designs.

Lishu and Leo Rodriguez

 Lishu and Leo Rodriguez 

Where does the natural environment find a place in the inspiration for and impact of your work?
Nature is our teacher and our muse. We believe in our symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. Our work nurtures this relationship where humanity and the natural environment benefit form one another.

How do craft traditions and modern practicality merge in your designs?
Craft is based on necessity dating back to the beginnings of technology. Our designs appreciate this evolution towards efficiency and durability while maintaining that human touch and our heritage of making with our bare hands.

Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

April 26, 2015

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother's Day Gifts | UncommonGoods

There’s one day a year that’s dedicated to all moms; this year, May 10 is that day. Mother’s Day may be a nation-wide holiday to honor the women who raised us, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s one gift that’s perfect for every mom. (OK, so maybe most moms are into the whole traditional Mother’s Day brunch thing, but who doesn’t love celebratory food? Treating her to pancakes is just a start.)

We rounded up all kinds of creative gift ideas to help you give mom a gift as unique as she is this year.

2015 Mother's Day Gift Ideas | UncommonGoods

Give Mom a Moment

Remember when you were a kid and you watched your mom balance what seemed like a million tasks at once? Whether she was picking you up from soccer practice on her way home from a long day at work or changing your little brother’s diapers while hoping the pot on the stove didn’t boil over in the 30 seconds she wasn’t looking, it’s likely that mom had very few moments to herself. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s not guaranteed that her life has slowed down any, but at least you can give her a gift that encourages her to remember to take a moment for herself every now and then.


Spa Experience Tin | Uncommongoods


Mom deserves to be pampered, and the Spa Experience Tin has just what it takes. Complete with Lavender Goat’s Milk Bath Tea, Bath Truffle, Wedding Cake Whispered Shea Crème, and Hint of Mint Lip Balm, this pretty package will transform her next soak into a relaxing retreat.

Meditation Box | UncommonGoods

There was a time when mom probably told you not to track sand into the house. While your dirty shoes used to stress mom out, this sand will do just the opposite. | Meditation Box

Tea Bag Pocket Mug | UncommonGoods

A hot cup of tea can be a nice start to a laid back afternoon or the perfect ending to a busy day. Either way, it’s even better when it’s drip-covered saucer free. | Tea Bag Pocket Mug

Green Tea Kit | UncommonGoods

Take tea time tranquility even further with the Green Herbal Tea Kit.  (Nine herbs and three types of tea further, to be more specific.)

New Mom

Whether you’re shopping for a brand new mother, or a mother who is just getting to know her second or third newborn, these mementos will help her celebrate the journey ahead!

Birthstone Wishing Balls | UncommonGoods


Mom can’t control everything that happens in her baby’s future, but she will always be wishing for the absolute best. Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for her to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message of hope or gratitude. | Birthstone Wishing Balls


Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace | UncommonGoods

We all know that newborns are excited to touch everything, both with their mouths and hands! So why not get jewelry that mom and baby can cherish? The cold sterling silver ring soothes baby’s teething gums, while a gentle rattling sound keeps babies entertained. | Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace 

Birthstone Definition Necklace | UncommonGoods

Did you know that the gemstones we associate with our birthmonths were also believed by the mystics to carry special meanings and even supernatural powers? Any new Mom needs all the super powers she can get! (Find out what her little one’s birthstone means here.) | Birthstone Definition Necklace 

I Heart You, Mom

There are so many ways to say I love you, but how many ways can you show her? 

A Mother's Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set | UncommonGoods

Because a mother’s love is like a spoonful of sugar, the best kind of medicine! | A Mother’s Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set 

What I Love About Mom By Me Book | UncommonGoods

It might be impossible to count all the ways, but this book will give you a great start. (Don’t forget to share the love with Grandma!) | What I Love About Mom By Me Book

Heart Book Box | UncommonGoods

This surprise will be sure to make this a Mother’s Day for the books! | Heart Book Box


What The Future Holds Love Locket | UncommonGoods

Whatever the future holds, this pendant will always keep your love close to her heart. | What The Future Holds Love Locket

The Art of Motherhood

We probably don’t have to tell you that parenting is a pretty tough job. It’s certainly not an exact science, but it might be a bit of an art form. Show your mama that you admire her colorful personality, creative problem solving, and technical expertise with a bit of art appreciation.

Bouquet by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

Flowers on Mother’s Day will make mom smile. Wendy Gold’s Bouquet will ensure that that smile is from ear to ear.

The Last Slice | UncommonGoodsIt may be true that no one knows how to bake a pie quite like mom, but artist Kendyll Hillegas is a pro when it comes to painting them. (Learn more about the artist here.) | The Last Slice

You Are Beautiful | UncommonGoods

Your mom is beautiful. Don’t let her forget it! | You Are Beautiful by Matthew Hoffman

Earth Mother

For the mothers who nurture Mother Earth, these picks will be sure to make their hearts bloom even brighter.

Birds and Bloom State Pillow | UncommonGoods

Just because you’ve left the nest doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the flora and fauna of mom’s home. | Birds and Blooms Pillows – Individual States

Pocket Wall Vases | UncommonGoods

It turns out that there are many beautiful perks to being a wallflower. | Pocket Wall Vases

Dandelion Paperweight | UncommonGoods

That moment when you make a wish and blow a dried dandelion into a thousand little pieces | Dandelion Paperweight

Pottery Birdhouse | UncommonGoods

Remember when mom used to read you stories about princesses who would get dressed in the morning with the help of beautiful hummingbirds? Well, you might not be able to bring her fairy tales to life, but you can give her favorite birds somewhere to sing. | Pottery Birdhouse

Strawberry Windowsill Growbox | UncommonGoods

A stretch of window sill, abundant sun, and a little patience are all mom needs to celebrate the fruit of her labors. | Strawberry Windowsill Growbox

Do It Herselfer 

For the Pinterest-loving, get-her-hands-dirty, jump-right-in kinda mom who is always up for a DIY challenge.

Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set | UncommonGoods

Because no matter what, mom is always putting her best foot forward. | Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set



With only a few DIY components, Mom can create an efficient device to monitor when the family’s toilet paper inventory is running low, amongst other applications. Need we say more? | Modular Smart Home Kit 


Keep calm and knit on! | Birdie Yarn Bowl Knitting Kit

Nerdy Mom

Maybe she loves sci-fi or is always the first in line for the latest gadget. Maybe she’s ever on the lookout for another piece of great literature to add to her home library or the newest research on her favorite area of study. Whatever her preferred form of geekdom, she’ll be happy to see that she raised you to show nerd pride AND great taste.

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods


Mom’s more of a literati than a fashionista (and proud of it!). Let her show off her classic style with a Literary Scarf printed with pages from one of her favorite classic books.

Smartphone Vase | UncommonGoodsIt’s easy to add a little nature to her tech-filled world, even if your thoroughly modern mommy likes to keep her smartphone nearby on her nightstand or end table. | Bedside Smartphone Vase

Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art | UncommonGoods


Mom is the brightest star on Mother’s Day, but she’s OK with sharing the sky with the constellations. | Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art


Silver Solar System Necklace | UncommonGoods

If your science-loving mom is the first to jump in on any discussion about Pluto’s declassification, she’ll love this Sterling Silver Solar System Necklace. The “ninth planet” is present in this pretty line-up of celestial charms, making it an uncommon way to spark conversations about Pluto’s fate.

Mom Who Has It All

Whether mom is the most stylish person you know, or the most beloved hostess there is, these conversation starters won’t fail to impress!

Porcelain Bird Bud Vases | UncommonGoods

Whether or not she has it all, the last thing any mom wants to have is a water leak to clean up. This beautifully designed vase always ensures a beautiful, leak-free presentation! | Porcelain Bird Bud Vase 


Bridging the worlds of fashion accessory and art canvas, this is the piece mom didn’t even know she was missing. | Manhattan Bridge Scarf

Recycled Glass Elephant Night Light | UncommonGoods

Because she’ll always protect you and your herd, no matter what. | Recycled Glass Elephants Night Light 

Bread and Butterfly Serving Board | UncommonGoods

A party accessory that will be sure to make her heart flutter. | Bread & Butter(fly) Serving Board

Because You Treasure Her

Giving mom a bracelet or necklace might seem a little old school at first, but these new pieces put a unique twist on traditional Mother’s jewelry.

Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet | UncommonGoods

The phrase “I’m turning into my mother” gets a bad wrap, but it can be a good thing. Show her that you’re glad to be two of a kind with a Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet featuring two beautiful pieces of found sea glass.


 Silver Dreamcatcher Pendant | UncommonGoods

Thank mom for encouraging you to always follow your dreams with a piece to help her catch hers. | Silver Dream Catcher Pendant 

Mother BirdFamily Necklace | UncommonGoodsYour mama bird took care of  you for a long time before you left the nest. Now you’ve spread your wings, but you’ll never fly too far away. | Mother Bird Family Necklace

My Lucky Stars Necklace | UncommonGoods

You thank your lucky stars to have such a fantastic mother. We bet she feels the same way about you. | My Lucky Stars Necklace 


See More Gifts Mom Will Love!


Maker Stories

Shattered Glass, Shining Art

March 27, 2015

How do shards of colored glass become beautiful, illuminated mini-mosaics? Vawn and Mike Gray answer that question with this video taking us through their step-by-step process.

The video certainly brightened our day, but the technique used to create them isn’t the only thing inspiring about Vawn and Mike’s nightlights. Each piece is actually made from recycled bottle glass. To learn more about how the Grays turn used bottles into an assortment of colorful glass pieces, check out their Smasher video.

Gift Guides

Gifts for Women: 16 Designs She’ll Show Off in Her Home

November 27, 2014

Designs She'll Show Off In Her Home | UncommonGoods

We’ve all heard the expression “home is where the heart is.” Initially, this expression can be interpreted to mean that “home” is wherever you are surrounded by the people you love. That is a very true sentiment, whether “home” describes the place where you grew up, or the new dwelling that you’re building with your growing family. But we think that this expression can be interpreted even further. Some people pour their hearts and souls into their homes. For true home decor lovers, walls aren’t just infrastructure that hold a roof, but a canvas for daily inspiration. Shelves display timeless pieces, not dusty picture frames. Clocks don’t just tell time, they also tell a story. Chances are, the mothers, grandmothers and other special ladies on your wish list share heartwarming pride for the decorative details that make up their homes. We’ve picked out 16 pieces that will add even more love and personality to her home, and give her another reason to show off her digs this holiday season.


Wooden Wrap Lamp | UncommonGoods

1. Clap-on lights are so 1980s. Introduce a gorgeous natural touch to your lady’s living room with a lamp that blends fine craftsmanship with modern design | Wooden Wrap Lamp


Handmade Sparrow Pillow | UncommonGoods


2. Can’t keep up with her idea of feng shui? Gift her positive vibes with this flock of sparrows, which are said to be harbingers of good news and good luck. | Handmade Sparrow Pillow 

Agate Desk Clock | UncommonGoods

3. In ancient times, agate was thought to bring pleasant dreams and protection to its owners. Time to ditch that raggedy dream catcher! | Agate Desk Clock

Gold Leaf Upcycled Bowl | UncommonGoods

4. One woman’s wine bottle is another woman’s treasure (or bowl, in this case). | Golden Leaf Upcycled Bowl 


Succulent Living Wall Planter Kit | UncommonGoods

5. Give a kit that will display the beautiful perks of being a wallflower. | Succulent Living Wall Planter Kit


Orange Peel Spiral Coaster Set | UncommonGoods

6. Next time she’s exchanging stories around the coffee table, she’ll jump at the chance to describe the juice-to-table origins of these coasters. | Orange Peel Spiral Coaster Set

Lumino Gilded Multicolored Coasters | UncommonGoods

7. When your favorite hostess stands-in as the house party bartender, these vibrant cuts of agate will provide a breathtaking backdrop to any muddled cocktail. |  Lumino Gilded Multicolored Coasters



Earth Science Stacking Cups | UncommonGoods

8. Show the girls in your life the creative side of STEM with these colorful stacking cups, which combine science with sophisticated design to display the planet’s geographical and marine layers. | Earth Science Stacking Cups


Well Read Women: Juliet Capulet | UncommonGoods

9. Spark inspiration at her next book club gathering with this elegant portrait of one of literature’s beloved star-crossed lovers. | Well Read Women: Juliet Capulet 



10. Any interior designer in the making knows that lighting makes a room. | Upcycled Bottle Pendant Lamp 


Kantha Shower Curtain | UncommonGoods

11.  Your globetrotting gal might long for her backpacking days, but she certainly doesn’t miss those hostel showers! This worldly shower curtain will remind her of exotic destinations in the comforts of her home base. | Kantha Shower Curtain 


Recycled Wine Bottle Candles | UncommonGoods

12. Setting the perfect mood is about getting the little details just right, all the way down to scent, lighting and aesthetics. |  Recycled Wine Bottle Candles


Inspiration Bent Wood Planter | UncommonGoods

13. Help her make a statement in her home with this coiled planter. |  Inspiration Bent Wood Planter 



Perching Bird Bookends | UncommonGoods

14.  Even if you’ve already left the nest, these Perching Bird Bookends will remind your crafty Mom that home is always just a flight away.

Birds of a Feather Sculpture | UncommonGoods

15. For an added touch of home decor magic, this sculpture can also remind your empty nest-er that your flock will always stick together. | Birds of a Feather Sculpture 


Moon Phase Pillow | UncommonGoods

16. For the nights when your favorite decorator sits on her furnished porch and marvels at the natural sparkle surrounding her home. |  Moon Phase Pillow 


Home Decor | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

Four Elements Mood Board: Fire

April 29, 2014

Four Elements Mood Boards | UncommonGoods

Astrology Locket / Convex Starburst Pencil Mirror / Mountains II by Meirav Gebler / Astral Wall Hangings / Gold Leaf Upcycled Beer Bottle Tumblers / Agate Coasters

For the last installment of this series of nature-inspired mood boards, we’re going out with a bang. Literally.

Fire is that fascinating element that can create as well as destroy. Ancient cultures have marveled in it for centuries–to the Greeks it was symbol of energy and passion, and the Hindu God Agni represented fire as well as lightning and the sun.

This collection was a little harder to put together as the choices were a lot less obvious than the other boards, so I did some research and got creative. I pulled items that celebrated the shapes and power of celestial orbs; materials made from volcanic activity; and a piece from an artist who incorporates gunpowder and fire in her watercolors.

Enjoy, and check out our other collections inspired by Earth, Air, and Water.

Gift Guides

Four Elements Mood Board: Water

April 22, 2014

Four Elements Mood Board: Water | Gift Guide | UncommonGoods

Porcelain Barnacle Vase / Make Waves Yarn Bowl / Glasscape Bowl / Ceramic Fish Bones / Under the Sea Pillow / Jellies III by Karen Chan / Jellyfish Earrings / Shattered Glass Bib Necklace

I was most excited to put together this collection of jewelry and home decor that reminded me of water. Having grown up on a small island, three blocks from the ocean and one from the bay, water is the element with which I am most comfortable and most familiar. In putting this all together, it became very clear to me that so many of our artists share the same affection for the deep blue as me.

Inspired by the peaceful hues of the ocean and the unique colors and shapes of its many creatures, this is a collection of goods that will evoke the spirit of this element that is as placid as it is exciting.

Check out the gift guides for Earth and Air that we launched, and check back next week for our last installment of this series, Fire!

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