The Uncommon Life

Instagram Challenge: NEIGHBORHOOD

June 18, 2014

Instagram Challenge | NEIGHBORHOOD | #UGInstaFun | UncommonGoods

To celebrate our excitement about hosting the Brooklyn Flag Project, we decided to make the next couple of week’s Instagram Challenge theme your NEIGHBORHOOD!  If you love where you live, it’s not about keeping up with the Joneses, but making plans with them at your neighborhood’s favorite spot!  After life’s nine-to-fives, exotic travels, visiting exhibitions and museums, adventuring into the outdoors, and running errands — there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve made it back into your familiar neighborhood that you love and adore. From your favorite corner coffee shop, to the broken fire hydrant across the street, to that elderly couple you speak to after your morning jogs, share your snapshots with us on Instagram. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #UGInstafun for a chance to win a $50 gift card! Visit here to see all of the friendly neighborhood entries we’ve received so far!


Congrats to @lpodlich for winning our RED, WHITE, & BLUE Instagram Challenge!

Instagram Challenge Winner | Red, White, & Blue | UncommonGoods


The Uncommon Life

Instagram Challenge: RED, WHITE, & BLUE

June 15, 2014

Instagram Challege | RED WHITE & BLUE | #UGInstaFun | UncommonGoods

Independence Day is just around the corner and we want you all to show us your love for the USA! The current Instagram Challenge theme is RED, WHITE, & BLUE. From everything to anything, share with us your red, white, and blue Insta shots for a chance to win a $50 gift card by using the hashtag #UGInstaFun!  Visit here to see all of the patriotic entries we’ve received so far.

Congrats to Renee, our winner for the Summer Instagram Challenge!

Instagram Challenge Winner | Summer | #UGInstaFun | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

Instagram Challenge: SUMMER

June 12, 2014

Instagram Challenge | Summer | UncommonGoods Last year, we reluctantly said goodbye to summer when autumn fell upon us, braved (okay, maybe mostly hibernated) through winter’s cold, and have been tolerating spring’s fickle behavior — but now summer is approaching again and it’s time to ditch the sweaters and bask ourselves under the sun! Don’t get me wrong, I have a special love for all seasons, but I think we all have to admit that summer definitely carries its weight in the fun department! The current Instagram Challenge theme is SUMMER. From icecream sundaes to beach bonfires to rooftop films, share with us your summer snapshots for a chance to win a $50 gift card. Visit here to see all of the sunny entries we’ve received so far.

Congrats to Becca for winning our STREET ART Instagram Challenge! Instagram Challenge Winner | STREET ART | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

Brooklyn Flag Project

June 1, 2014

Brooklyn Flag Project | UncommonGoods

The Brooklyn Flag Project is a call for entries for flag designs that represent the Brooklyn neighborhood that you know and love! We will print and produce the winning flags in Brooklyn and sell them on our site. We want you to imagine these flags hanging loud and proud in your neighbor’s apartment, your local coffee shop, outside the window of your favorite restaurant, and inside your home office. This project is all about celebrating our wonderful borough, the diversity of its many neighborhoods, and the creative people that live in it.

Our guest judges include Marty Markowitz – former Brooklyn Borough President, Tina Roth Einsenbrg – founder and voice of Swissmiss, Annaliese Griffin – editor-in-chief for Brooklyn Based, and our very own David Bolotsky- founder of UncommonGoods. For more details on the judging panel, click here!

After you submit your artwork below, wait patiently to hear back from our Design Challenge team. In mid September, the judging panel will meet to pick their favorites, our finalists. The finalists will be presented to our online community on the voting tool where the public will be the ultimate deciders – using their votes to determine the winner. The design with the most votes at the end of the voting period will be the grand prize winner, and our buying team will be deciding on the runners up.

All of them! Whether you live in a well-established neighborhood like Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope or Brighton Beach, or you identify with a newer hood like ProCro or Greenwood Heights, all neighborhoods are welcome.

Yes please! This won’t only help us understand the design better, but will make it easier for the judges and online voting community to make their decision.

The flags will be a 36 inch by 46 inch rectangle (landscape or portrait is up to you) and will be made of cotton. There is a water based coating on the surface of the cotton for print adhesion. The designs will be printed with GREENGUARD certified ink, so it’s environmentally friendly. Designed for indoor use, the flags will be made with brass grommets suitable for hanging on a wall. Oh, and they’re going to be MADE IN BROOKLYN. Down the road, we’ll also look to feature the designs on other products.

The final design will be a 36 inch by 46 inch flag. But in order for your submission to get through our server you must submit a file at 72dpi in the form of a JPG or PNG. And it must be less than 2mb. Make sure to keep you submission to the ratio of 9 by 11.5 – you can decide if your design will be situated landscape or portrait.

If you win, you will need to have a vector of the file, or an image at 2592 by 3312 pixels.

The designs will be digitally printed so there are no limits to color.

Submit your artwork using our form on the very bottom of this page. You will need a JPG or PNG of your work to enter, as well as a vector file if you win. The artwork must be original, meaning free of logos, trademarks and obvious influence from another artist – We know there are amazing coffee shops, chocolate factories, and basketball teams that represent your neighborhood. If these logos are part of your design, please understand that we will require the trademark owner’s permission to use it.

If you are our grand prize winner – and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you be? – you’ll receive $1000 cash (OK, it’s a check, but you get the idea) and a contract with UncommonGoods that will grant you royalties after a sales threshold is reached. Technically we will be buying the design from you and giving you 5% of the retail price every time it is sold, and the prize money $1000 is an advance on the royalties you will be receiving. The same holds true of each of the other prize levels. You’ll work with our Product Development team to perfect the design and have it printed on flags. Your design will be shown on, in our marketing emails, and possibly in our catalog. You also reserve the right for a judgment-free victory dance, literally letting your freak flag fly.

This question usually bums us out, so we are offering prizes to more than just our grand prize winner. One second place winner will receive $750, one third place winner will receive $500, and a number of other runners up will receive $250. Keep in mind that we can potentially have more than one runner up winner and that we’re hoping to add dozens of great flag designs into our assortment! The cash prize is an advance toward future sales, so there is the opportunity to make more as your designs are sold over time. There will be lots of victory dances in this design challenge!

Drop us a line at


Brooklyn Flag Project | UncommonGoods


Ceramics Design Challenge Winner Announced!

May 29, 2014

In the past, the judging of our design challenges have occurred behind closed doors, either discussed through a conference call or in a room with our buyers and guest judges. Last night, we decided to take quite a different spin with our judging: to make it live for the public and contestants to watch via Google Hangout! (Yes, even including the critiques!) We’re a company that values transparency and we want all of our finalists to benefit from our judging as much as possible. Sure, we can jot down a few notes, and send the comments in an email the next day — but I think we all can agree that nothing beats hearing what the judges have to say in real time.

Below is our very first Google Hangout judging session for the Ceramics Design Challenge. The judges we invited to spill their expertise onto the table about each individual piece were Joanna Hawley, a designer and the voice behind the blog Jojotastic, and our Assistant Buyer, Hannah Weber. (Gaby and I joined in on the fun by moderating the conversation and putting in our two cents when we felt it was needed.)  Be sure to watch and see who our Ceramics Design Challenge winner is!























Congrats, Ronald and Jeni! Your ceramic piece is beautiful!

Maker Stories

A Tale of Two Studios in London

May 12, 2014

A Tale of Two Studios: London | UncommonGoods_7115

If you knew me well, you would know that my absolutely favorite thing to do in life is to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my beloved Brooklyn. But anytime vacation time rolls around, I’m the first one to hail a taxi straight to JFK –wide eyed, bushy tailed, and passport in hand. There’s nothing better than experiencing a new city,  a new language, new food, and a new culture.  My most recent destination of choice was London. (Okay, I wouldn’t exactly be experiencing a new language in London, but beautiful British accents have to count for something, right?) As I was planning out my itinerary — London Bridge. Get lost in the tube. Brick Lane thrift shopping. Enjoy a cuppa. Big Ben. Borough Market. Run into Kate and William. — I realized I still had a couple of free days to burn. I was traveling alone, so why not take advantage of the situation? I decided to do my second favorite thing ever: meet creative people.

A Tale of Two Studios in London

I sent out an email to our buying team asking if we worked with any interesting artists living in London in hopes of setting up a studio tour. When I received responses, I couldn’t ignore the fact that we worked with two different graphic designers who place their designs on tea towels and lived in London. The blog team brainstormed the idea that I should meet with both versus just meeting with one. One seven hour plane ride, two near-death experiences because I didn’t know which way to look while crossing the street, three “you’re on the wrong bus” moments, and one tightly squeezed tube ride later — I was finally sitting in a cafe with the two designers: Stuart Gardiner of Stuart Gardiner Design and Lahla Smart of The Food Guide.

This was the first time they met each other, and given the fact that they produce similar products, I do have to admit I was a bit nervous about how awkwardly this coffee rendezvous could have unfolded. Yet, with our lovely stroll near Walthamstow Central Station and chatting in-between our sips of coffee inside a quaint cafe, I would have to say it was such a success that I was this close in creating the hashtag #BritishTeaTowelDesignersUnite! A bit after our coffee and chat,  I visited Stuart’s studio first, and then ended my afternoon at Lahla’s. Lucky for me, their studios weren’t too far apart from each other — I promise I only had to ask for directions once.

Read what each artist believes sets their graphic designs apart from the next, their takes on switching roles from a graphic designer to a product developer, and their thoughts about living and running a business in London.  

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

#UGInstaWinner: FOODIE

May 2, 2014

Congrats to Ilena for winning our FOODIE Instagram Challenge with this delicious snapshot. This is a vanilla cupcake with fresh cream topping, almond chips, and blueberries in a tea cup mold. Yum! It’s never too late to join in on the #UGInstaFun for a chance to win a $50 gift card. The current theme is SPRING, you can view some of the entries here.

Instagram Challege FOODIE Winner | UncommonGoods


The Uncommon Life

Instagram Challenge: PARENTS

May 1, 2014

The current Instagram Challenge theme is now PARENTS. Be sure to use the hashtag #UGInstaFun for your chance to win a $100 gift card. Also, check out who won our SPRING Instagram Challenge!Parents. Now, that’s a hefty word, isn’t it? This can describe your own lovely folks or perhaps you’re a parent yourself… or maybe that word makes you think of your mom, dad, and the little ones running around (or getting ready to graduate college!). With Mother’s Day just ending and Father’s Day around the corner, we want to pay homage to parents — whatever that word means to you. If you haven’t guessed yet, the current Instagram Challenge theme is now PARENTS. Be sure to use the hashtag #UGInstaFun for your chance to win a $100 gift card. Bring out the old photo albums or snap a few Instagrams of parenting your rebellious toddler. Visit here to see all of the  entries we’ve received so far of beautiful families!  

The last Instagram Challenge theme was SPRING. Below is the winner! Congrats @_susandrea_!

UncommonGoods | Instagram Challenge | #UGInstaFun | Winner

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