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Jewelry

Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: From Laos with Love–Clearing Bombs, Crafting Beauty, Creating Hope

December 1, 2015

As a certified B Corporation, 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 eager to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

Laos A village in Laos, Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Suda

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.

In the case of Elizabeth Suda, founder of Article 22, making a positive impact is, in part, about helping to heal the negative impact the imposed on Laos  during the Vietnam War. The Peacebomb Jewelry designs produced by Article 22 aren’t just fashionable accessories, they’re also symbols of hope.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Can it Rain Diamonds?

November 29, 2015

Rough Diamond Solitaire Ring | UncommonGoods

If you happen to be on Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, or Neptune, it sure can! Not that anyone has actually been able to observe this amazing phenomenon first hand, but planetary scientists think it’s likely that the gas giants of our solar system feature showers of diamonds along with their other amazing meteorological phenomena. The vast, gaseous spheres of these planets are plentiful in methane and other hydrocarbons. Epic lightning storms turn the methane into concentrations of carbon, which becomes graphite—and then diamond—as it falls through the crushing pressures of the gas giants’ atmospheres. What happens to these showers of Liz Taylor’s dreams? On colder planets like Neptune, they may pile up on the solid surface of the core (if it has one), but on hot giants like Jupiter, they may liquefy toward the core into lakes or seas of amorphous diamond. As the crew of Firefly might say: shiny!

Rough Diamond Solitaire Ring | $695

FAQ

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.

 

Gift Guides

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Classic Beauty

November 2, 2015

Vintage Inspired Gifts | UncommonGoods

Do you know someone who always looks like she just walked off the set of Mad Men? She might be the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, or possess the timeless grace of women like Iman or Amal Clooney. You swear that her Instagram account is recorded through a rose-colored lens. Finding a gift to suit such a regal personality isn’t easy. However, one thing we’re sure of is that true vintage appeal must incorporate an element of the uncommon, something that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. (As you might imagine, we consider that our specialty). In honor of the classic beauty in your life, we’ve rounded up our favorite finds that will stun her with elegance and panache.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Andrea Panico

August 20, 2015

UncommonGoods is excited to unveil what we’re proud to call the Uncommon Collection – an assortment of some of our very favorite offerings that fully embody our core values. Each week we introduce new artists in our This Just In-spiration series, but we’re happy to give a special introduction for one of the artists helping us grow this collection of truly uncommon designs.

In meeting our five key standards, all designs featured in the collection are original and demonstrate exceptional ingenuity, while makers adhere to responsible business practices and leave a minimal footprint on our environment. What makes an artist’s design special and motivates them to have a positive impact on the world is certainly worth sharing. Meet Andrea Panico, the maker behind Jewelry in a Bottle, exclusively at UncommonGoods.

Panico_lowresSp15

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always had creativity running through me. My mom was an art teacher and my dad a biology teacher-turned school principal. So I sort of had the yin and yang of influences. I wrote poetry as a kid and played piano (by ear) starting at age 5. But I never thought I wanted to work in a creative field. I planned to be a doctor, even all the way through my undergraduate degree! It took me applying and not getting accepted to medical school to think about what I was meant to do and what was important to me. After getting a job at an architecture firm, everything clicked for me. I knew I was in the right place. At that point, I started taking foundation design classes and then eventually got my masters in Industrial Design at Pratt.

Jewelry in a Bottle | UncommonGoods

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Everyone says it’s important to do what you love and I believe that’s true. There are so many other things that influence our day – office interactions, family obligations, even the weather – so having a baseline of truly enjoying your work and your process helps provide balance. I have worked for quite a few designers, and that can be a huge challenge. So even more exciting than becoming a professional designer was starting my own business, when I finally had the opportunity to chart my own course.

Pico in workspace 2

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
Typically, I attack the “to-do” list I’ve made the night before. ( It seems like all my urgent emails come in after I leave!) I also often straighten up my space. I’m a firm believer in “everything in its place and a place for everything”. I can think more clearly when there’s not too much visual clutter around me. After that, we deal with any retail or wholesale orders, getting them ready for shipment. The rest of the day is reserved for whatever project is most pressing at the moment – whether preparing for a show, designing new products for our jewelry line, or working on the many additional design projects we do here. My day typically ends with a stop at the UPS store, where I ship our orders.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
I have pictures of my kids on my computer screen. It helps to see them, to jolt me back into “full person” mode. It’s easy to get pulled strongly into whatever project is at the top of the to-do list. For the same reason, I keep a piece of Desert Jasper on my desk. It’s a beautiful rough stone believed to bring a sense of tranquility and wholeness and to balance physical, mental, and emotional bodies. It also stimulates creativity and imagination, which a designer always needs!

Pico in workspace

Did anything in particular inspire your design?
Most of my designs are inspired by architecture, or great buildings. I am a minimalist and like the objects I have in my home to be clean, simple and multifunctional. This jewelry holder was inspired by the idea that what we use to store our jewelry should be as nice as the jewelry inside! I wanted something more than a “box” that also functioned and kept the jewelry from becoming tangled.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?
I have a first grader and she usually says everything is “beeeeaaaaaauuuutiful.”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Why is sustainability important to you?
Having worked in architecture and design firms before starting my own design company, I learned about sustainability as it pertained to large scale multimillion dollar projects. At the scale of a building, or buildings, the choices we make as designers have such visible impact on so many levels. I think small businesses may think they are too insignificant to have an impact, but I believe every little bit counts. In my design process, I try to create pieces that will endure and that will be handed down as heirlooms. We have enough mass market companies making “throw-away” products – my goal is to have people enjoy what they buy from me for years to come.

In what ways does your design reflect social and environmental best interests?
The ecosystem of my typical design and production process involves quite a few moving parts, and I regularly review that system to see where I can do better. Whether it’s shipping logistics, material usage, or how my team is set up or costing, all the factors get reevaluated. For the most recent design I did with UncommonGoods, we used recycled bottles in combination with wood for our jewelry holder. We worked with existing bottle sizes and designed around that, fitting the lid design in with these constraints. The idea for this piece came from a design in my own line, and we were able to make it less expensive AND in a more environmentally conscious way. Superb!

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