Browsing Tag

Product Development

Maker Stories

Made (Green) in the USA

May 3, 2012

Our friends at Green 3, Jim and Sandy Martin, have helped us add some fantastic uncommon goods to our assortment. From adorable babywear like the gnome babysuit and hat and matching blanket, to the perfect-for-a-breezy-spring-day reclaimed t-shirt scarves, to the summer-friendly update on the popular recycled sweater skirt, the recycled bridesmaid dress skirt, the Martins know eco-friendly fashion.

Sandy and Jim. photo via Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce

Jim works closely with our product development team to create unique clothing and accessories exclusive to UncommonGoods, like the bridesmaid dress skirt and the comfy, casual recycled dress shirt robe. We love that these products come from recycled materials, and many are even created with the help of organizations working with disabled adults.

“My wife Sandy started the company,” he told us. “She grew up on a farm in Michigan and saw firsthand the negative implications on the farmer’s health when they are exposed to chemical pesticides on a daily basis. She felt strongly that her company would focus on sustainable fibers that caused the least damage possible to the environment.”

Causing less damage to the environment means using organic cotton, like that in Green 3’s babysuits, and reusing materials when possible.

Sometimes those materials, like the sweaters used to make recycled sweater scarves, come from thrift stores. Others are leftovers from apparel manufacturers. “We actually look at what types of fabrics are available to us, and then design into the fabric,” Jim explained. “Certain fabrics lend themselves to specific applications and steer us into new product categories.”

Clockwise from top left: A Green 3 Artist hand-drawing a graphic / Green 3’s warehouse storing reclaimed and excess fabrics / Tina, an in-house sewer at Green 3 headquarters.

Once the fabric is in hand each piece is inspected individually to insure it meets aesthetic and quality standards. Thrift store items are washed before being deconstructed and prepared for cutting and sewing, so even though the garment created may be made from secondhand materials, it’s as good as new.

The processes of selecting, inspecting, and preparing fabrics and creating the final products are all done in the United States. “Sandy and I had both been in the corporate apparel industry for over 20 years. During that time we watched a steady flow of jobs going overseas,” said Jim. “We just felt strongly that we could do it here and bring a few jobs back. What we’re finding is that we’re not the only ones that feel this way. More and more like minded companies are partnering, and quickly it is becoming more than just a few jobs. In our community alone we employ 20 people. But our network of partners employs thousands.”

One partner helping Green three create handmade upcycled products for uncommon goods is Aspiro, a non-profit organization offering job training and career options to cognitively disabled adults in Green Bay, Wisc. “We contacted Aspiro after learning of them through a news report,” Jim said. “Their facility has been doing cut and sew work for years and they have a highly skilled labor force. When we toured the facility and saw the pride and passion of the workers, and how this opportunity for independence positively impacted their lives, we knew wanted to support the initiative any way we could.”

Reclaimed T-shirt Scarf / Dress Shirt Robe / Recycled Sweater Scarf / Recycled Bridesmaid Dress Skirt / Gnome Babysuit(TM) & Hat / Gnome Blanket

By partnering with Green 3 and other apparel manufactures, the skilled sewers at Aspiro earn fair wages and are given opportunities for independent living.

Thanks to these dedicated workers, secondhand and leftover fabrics, and the imaginations of Jim, Sandy, and the talented designers at Green 3, we’re always seeing updated products and trendy upcycled fashions. Which Green 3 design do you love most?

Design

Paper to Silk

August 11, 2011

Finding that perfect gift for a special couple isn’t always an easy task.

We’re happy to provide a little advice and proudly offer our original Anniversary Book as a suggestion for a great wedding or anniversary gift. This hand-bound journal includes pages to help loving couples celebrate years the first twenty years of marriage, and features pages in 5-year increments for each year from 25-50.

You told us that you loved this little journal so much that we needed to take it to the next level. And with your suggestions, we developed a more complete Anniversary Journal featuring pages for each year up to that golden 50th anniversary.

Continue Reading…

Design

Vintage Stamp Money Clips

July 28, 2011

Michelle said: “I would have a hard time deciding which to buy!”

Our product development team is at it again and they just added their latest creation to our community voting app.

Each Vintage Stamp Money Clip features an actual United States postage stamp and a quote from the stamp’s star. Ben Franklin’s famous line: “A penny saved is a penny earned” complements an authentic used 1-cent stamp, while Harry Truman’s motto: “The buck stops here” is engraved next to a mint Truman commemorative stamp.

Would you let President Truman hold your bucks? Or, would you rather carry your cash with Mr. Frankin’s words of wisdom as a fiscal guide? Share your feedback in our community voting app and tell our product developers which clip is right on the money!

Design

Hit the Road in Style with Vintage Key Rings

November 5, 2010

Ever wanted to own a classic car? We sure have, so we set out to find a way to give you a piece of the most iconic classic cars, without having to break your bank. Here’s the story behind our vintage Mustang and Thunderbird key rings.

We decided upon two favorite vintage autos: the first generation Ford Mustang (1964-1973) and the third generation Ford Thunderbird (1961 – 1963).

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Buyer’s Dilemma

October 5, 2010

Right now we’re making our final picks for the catalog we’ll send to you in January. Remember the sari scarf? We carry these beautiful handmade scarves in turquoise and cinnamon.

Our buyer Erin is in the middle of deciding what new colors to bring in. She just sent me this email:

“Saris are by nature brightly colored and full of prints, so I’ve got a lot of color options to choose from. Since the patchwork look is such a big trend right now, it made sense to make a scarf of different contrasting colors that also complement each other. I’ve got the photographs of the sari scarf samples and they all look so fantastic, I need help deciding which scarf to feature in our catalog.”


Blue and Purple

Red and Cream

Orange, Green and Yellow

Purple and Pink

Well I’m turning it over to you. Help Erin decide, by leaving a comment for your favorite color combo. Thanks for your help!