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Give Your Favorite Fruits a Boost with the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl

February 12, 2018

*Editor’s note: The Just Ripe Fruit Bowl is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

Just Ripe Fruit Bowl | pre-order now, only at UncommonGoods

Thousands of years—that’s how old the concept of a fruit bowl is. In Pompeiian frescoes and the Met’s collections (and many places in between), you’ll find evidence of the delightfully basic vessel’s time-honored place in our kitchens. When something’s been around so long, though, why tweak it? We’ll let you in on a secret: Your beloved fruit bowl could be better. We’re talking way, way better. And with a little help from designer Myles Geyman, our Product Development team set out to make it so.

First, if you’ll permit the indulgence, allow us to set the scene. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and you’ve just hit the farmer’s market in search of you favorite summer fruits (hey, it’s February—we can dream): peaches, cherries, plums, and nectarines. You arrive home with your tasty, tasty spoils, plop them all in your favorite fruit bowl, and wait for each to achieve maximum ripeness. But you’re foiled when one of your peaches turns mushy, unleashing a sea of sticky peach slop, and when you attempt to lift your spirits, you reach for a plum—only to find it’s neither soft nor sweet! If only you had some way of organizing your fruits, pushing the tough, unripe ones along, and keeping such disappointment at bay…

Enter the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl and its partner in crime, a little thing called ethylene.

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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

Inside the Artists’ Studios: Visiting 12 Maker Spaces in 2017

December 31, 2017

February 2017 marked five years of UncommonGoods Studio Tours. A lot has happened here at UG since that first visit (with Anna Rabinowicz, whose Agate Coasters are still a customer favorite), but one thing hasn’t changed. Every time I enter a maker’s creative space, I learn something I didn’t know before and gain a new appreciation for their craft. Sometimes I get to physically travel to a studio, sit down and chat with an artist, and watch them work. Every now and then I even get to try my hand at making something. Other times, my experience is like yours. I get to see inside an artist’s studio through the eyes of another excited visitor, who’s taking in a new experience and sharing their own thoughts and feelings.

Our 2017 Studio Tour round-up features the experiences of several team members, including my own visits to New Hampshire, Ohio, and Maryland; our graphic designer’s look inside a Rhode Island jewelry studio; a jewelry buyer’s trip to Boston; our PR & social media manager’s serendipitous stay in Canada; the blog team’s soap making lesson in Newburgh, New York;  and even an adventure across the Atlantic, where our contributing writer met Greek sculptor George Roumanas. And that’s just a start. This year, we traveled more than ever and visited the widest variety of studios yet. It’s always tricky to pick just a few highlights from our Studio Tours, but here’s a shot at it. (Along with links to the full posts, if you’re looking for a serious infusion of inspiration!)

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The Uncommon Life

Doing Good, in Brooklyn and Beyond:
A Look Back at 2017

December 26, 2017

At UncommonGoods, we strive to be more than a business: We strive to be a force for good. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind, high-quality handmade goods to our customers, we’ve made it our mission to use our business to help improve the world we live in. As an independently-owned company with 18 years under our belt, we’re lucky to have the freedom to act according to our convictions, providing our workers with a living wage and a generous paid family leave policy, donating thousands annually to our Better to Give partners, and supporting makers who create a positive social and environmental impact wherever possible.

Of course, this isn’t all that we do each year. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re supporting causes we believe in as effectively as we possibly can, and we’re always trying to make sure that UG is a great place to work. (Side note: Being a great place to work, like most things, requires a lot of trial and error, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that being open to change and putting our employees’ needs first are key points for us.) This year, we’re letting you in on our proudest achievements, from work we’ve done within our Brooklyn warehouse to relationships we’ve built with new nonprofit partners. Read on for more on what we’ve done #InsideUG, with our Better to Give partners, and within the B Corporation community.


#InsideUG

Samples line the walls in our newly renovated office, complete with custom woodwork.

Here at UncommonGoods HQ in Sunset Park’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, we’ve made some improvements of our own. In June, we announced the launch of our Guiding Principles, a series of seven carefully formulated standards by which we at UG strive to lead our professional lives. With values like We Are a Force for Good, We Are Open-Minded, and We Are Always Learning, we’re encouraged to foster a culture in which we respect one another and consider our company’s impact on the world. (But more on that later.)

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration:
Meet Richard Glass

December 20, 2017

We sell loads of glass here at UncommonGoods, and I often joke with my friends that it’s not quite my thing—that I appreciate the artistry of it, but it just doesn’t speak to me the way, say, a piece of jewelry does. (As a former art history student who doesn’t much dig Impressionism, I’m pretty practiced at delivering that type of spiel.) To be totally honest, though, I’ve come to see glass in a new light since speaking with so many of our wonderful makers. They give their work a personality and meaning that I, a relative philistine, at least as far as glass goes, hadn’t really considered before. And Richard Glass is no exception… though he is, we concede, exceptionally well-named.

We were first introduced to Richard’s handiwork—his Saturn Glass Sculptural Bowl in particular—in a meeting room in our office in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and we soon reached out to him in search of answers to questions like: “Why glass?” and “What inspires you?” What we received were some seriously delightful insights into his past and passions, complete with anecdotes that made us chuckle and wise words that made us go hmm at our desks. Read on for our Q&A with Richard, complete with a sneak peek into his dazzling workspace in Devon, England.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will Our Dairy Free Cheesemaking Kit Impress this Curd Connoisseur?

December 15, 2017

Beloved Marketing Analyst Morgan warms up to vegan cheese… or so it seems.

Product

Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit

Research

As a self-proclaimed cheese connoisseur, I knew the moment I saw the Dairy Free Cheddar, Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit that it had to be mine. Melty mozzarella, creamy ricotta, tangy cheddar: say no more, you had me at melty. (Editor’s note: Morgan loves the Fondoodler, so her predilection for meltiness comes as no surprise to us.) I’ve dabbled in the realm of vegan cheese before, but as a non-vegan, I’m much more familiar with the dairy varieties of my favorite delicious treat. I decided to go to my local grocery store and sample their vegan wares and I was a little disappointed. The consistency and flavor just didn’t meet my exceptionally high cheese standards. Alas.

This is when I decided I was up for the challenge of creating a vegan cheese even the most dairy-loving person could enjoy.

Hypothesis

As a former research scientist, I hypothesized that my laboratory skills could help me concoct this vegan cheese masterpiece. I knew there were challenges, based on my prior vegan cheese sampling and dislike for its odd texture, but the images on the box of this kit looked delightful and I decided to judge a book by its cover.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will Our Homemade Tortilla Kit Smash the Competition?

December 12, 2017

Hadley, UncommonGoods’ Junior Content Creator, thinks about tortillas. (Note the glint in her eye.)

Product

Homemade Tortilla Kit

Research

I’m an avid cook, and so is my boyfriend, Royce. We often make dinner together, and eight-ish times out of ten, we make one tasty thing: tacos. (Curry’s a common winter dish, too, but I digress.) I’d been talking Royce’s ear off for months about how we should try making our own tortillas, but we never got around to it. It follows, then, that I got pretty pumped when I saw our new Homemade Tortilla Kit for sale. It felt like I’d finally found my chance to force us into making our own tortillas, a project that would otherwise have continued to elude us for, you know, more months.

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Maker Stories

Makers Joining Forces:
A Brief History of WomenMadeLA

December 11, 2017

From left to right, Debbie, Sashee, and Lori

Three women, three companies, and three uncommon goods that represent the food we grew up loving, by Debbie Mullin

Two years ago, in the infancy of our businesses, the three of us—Sashee Chandran, Lori Sandoval, and me, Debbie Mullin—kept running into each other. We were handing out samples at the same market, renting time at the same commercial kitchen, and neighbors at the same gigantic trade shows. When the three of us finally sat down to chat about our LA-based companies, we realized they all faced the same exciting but daunting challenges with growth—expensive LA real estate, setting up distribution, finding good employees, etc.—all on top of being women and minority-owned businesses. Each of our companies needed so much to keep growing, but we didn’t know how to afford it all at once.

Enter: WomenMadeLA. The three of us joined together a year ago to form our collective and formally support one another through shared resources for our quickly growing small businesses. Since then, WomenMadeLA has moved to a large downtown office to accommodate growth, and has even added new companies. The collective now employs three full-time staff for all our photography/video, graphic design, and social media needs and to keep all WomenMadeLA products looking as good to their customers as they taste at home.

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