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The Uncommon Life

Introducing the New York Paid Leave Coalition

March 22, 2018

UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but nearly 85% of Americans aren’t able to take paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only highly industrialized country that does not mandate paid family leave. That’s why we’ve been voicing our support for Paid Family Leave laws in all 50 states, including in our home in New York. To continue these efforts, we’re proud to partner with the New York Paid Leave Coalition.Starting January 1, 2018, New York became the fourth state to officially launch a Paid Family Leave program, which means that New York’s working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Carolyn Gavin

February 6, 2018

Artist Carolyn Gavin and her puppy Eggroll, photos by Jen Coleman

If you deconstruct the most inspiring quotes throughout history, you’ll find that they all have a few things in common: great wordsmithing, flawless pacing, memorable messaging. So when I asked artist Carolyn Gavin what inspires her to illustrate quotes, I thought she might say she enjoyed experimenting with fonts in watercolor, or that wanted her art to honor influential leaders or her favorite musicians. I quickly learned that these assumptions were too surface level for an artist who uses color like Carolyn. When describing her design process for our “World is Full of Magic” print, she simply said, “it’s just a feeling. I knew that quote would need flowers.”

After visiting Carolyn’s home studio in downtown Toronto, it is evident that this beautiful, gentle approach to her art manifests in every aspect of her life. Where the average person sees words or objects, Carolyn envisions bouquets, nature, and exotic shapes. Every corner inside of the 120-year-old Victorian house that she shares with her husband, her daughter Lily, and their English Bulldog Eggroll, is drenched in her signature color palette. From the quaint garden that she maintains in her off time, to the walls decorated with bright patterns that would make Justina Blakeney pause, every detail embodies the same joy that we find so captivating about her prints.

Carolyn is an artist who truly lives the words penned by writer Khalil Gibran, “Work is love made visible.” As I made my way around her sun-drenched studio, it was hard to distinguish which of her projects would be defined as work or “play.” She approaches every opportunity to create as a chance to learn and explore. Whether it’s sharing watercolors with her enthusiastic Instagram followers, or experimenting with new graphic design techniques for a commissioned project. Her creative perspective is always evolving.  

Read on to discover how Carolyn finds inspiration in her travels, how she maintains balance between her family’s business and her own artistic goals, and why she believes that the world is always full of magic. 

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Maker Stories

The World Through Orange-Colored Glasses: A Conversation with Stephen Kitras

October 31, 2017

Stephen Kitras in his Fergus, Ontario studio, photos by Jen Coleman

During the first week of October, I traveled to Toronto to attend the annual B Corporation Champions Retreat. (And to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a founding B Corp!) Less than a week before I was set to leave for my first-ever trip to the Great White North, I learned that Stephen Kitras, a long-time member of our maker family, owns and operates the largest hot glass blowing studio in Canada. I immediately contacted the Kitras Art Glass team with fingers crossed, hoping to squeeze in a last minute visit while on their side of the continent. A few days later, I found myself in Fergus, Ontario, thrown into the fire of glassblowing alongside artists who have traveled from all over the world to practice their craft at Stephen’s studio. Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Americares: Responding to Hurricane Devastation

August 31, 2017

UPDATE 9/25/2017: Americares emergency teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and Dominica in the Caribbean. The organization has been working with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to stock emergency shelters in San Juan with medical equipment and supplies. As of last week, Americares has provided $9 million in medicines, supplies, and other assistance to more than 50 partners in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin to help survivors of the recent storms.

UPDATE 9/19/2017: Earlier this week, Americares airlifted $1.8 million in critical medicines and medical supplies for Hurricane Irma survivors throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, is predicted to plow through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting this evening. Visit americares.org for more updates on emergency response efforts for those caught in this hurricane season’s devastating paths.

UPDATE 9/11/2017: Americares has deployed emergency response experts to assist in relief efforts for communities in the path of Hurricane Irma. Before it reached Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma killed more than 25 people in the Caribbean and devastated several islands, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Click here to learn more about Americares response to Hurricane Irma.

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The Uncommon Life

Bursting the Bubble: Why We’re Ditching Inflated Plastic Packing Material

August 8, 2017

There are a lot of businesses that solely focus on profit… but we’re not one of them. Of course, we do need to make a profit to succeed as a business. But it’s also important to us that in everything we do, we use our business as a force for good. That means having a positive impact on people and our planet–and continuing to make the changes that will help us do more good. 

Thanks to your feedback and our partners at Emerald Brand, a company specializing in revolutionary eco-friendly products, we are officially ditching inflated plastic packing material. While those little air-filled plastic bubbles might be fun to pop, they’re not exactly environmentally friendly. We’re excited to announce that your goods will now be shipped using Emerald Brand paper-based packing material made with 80 percent post-consumer fibers, which is not only recyclable, but also compostable. 

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The Uncommon Life

Push for Paid Family Leave: Takeaways from Capitol Hill

June 6, 2017

The 850 pieces that are included with our “50 States – Puzzle Within a Puzzle” are designed to create 50 different mini puzzles, so that each state presents its own unique challenge to the puzzled participant. These mini puzzles can only be united as states once all of the extra-large pieces are fitted to the whole.

After my recent trip to Capitol Hill, I would argue that this design is an accurate metaphor when it comes to the politics around paid family and medical leave.

Translation: Paid family leave legislation is a paradox. The US is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, paid family leave legislation has only passed in four states. (Our handy interactive map will tell you what’s going on in the other 46 states!) Given that only 14 percent of US workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, it’s evident that something needs to change at the national level. With today’s diverse workforce, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave, is both outdated and insufficient, as only 60 percent of our workforce is eligible for FMLA protections.

That’s why I joined business leaders from Seventh Generation, Badger Balm, Eileen Fisher, Honest Company, and more to voice UncommonGoods’ support for the FAMILY Act to members of Congress.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) meeting with business leaders to discuss the FAMILY Act. | Photo courtesy of the American Sustainable Business Council

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The Uncommon Life

Planting the Seeds for our American Forests Collection

April 18, 2017

Sleeping Fox | UncommonGoods

Each time you shop at UncommonGoods, we donate $1 to a non-profit partner of your choice through our Better to Give program (at no cost to you). In 2010, we were proud and honored to welcome American Forests, the oldest conservation organization in the United States, to Better to Give. Since then, we’ve donated more than $380,000 (and counting!) to further American Forests’ mission to protect and restore forests worldwide. But there’s still work to do.

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The Uncommon Life

Introducing Family Values @ Work

April 3, 2017

Family Values @ Work | Better to Give

UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters, we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but most Americans can’t afford to take time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Thanks to a lot of active voices (including ours) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the strongest paid leave policy in the United States last year. However, there is still more work to do.

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