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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Candle Queen Tamara Mayne

September 10, 2018

Tamara sneaks a sniff in her Brooklyn, New York, studio; photos by Theresa Hensley

Some 20 blocks from our own offices in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Tamara Mayne and her staff of candle experts toil in Industry City. Tamara’s studio is filled with smells: pear, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lemongrass—the list goes on. She’s a new mom, and it’s a rare treat to catch her at work in her Sunset Park outpost. “My home studio [is] where I do most of my work,” she tells us, adding, “in true New York fashion, it’s half of our bedroom.” But if her apartment’s where much of the behind-the-scenes, creative-director-y magic happens, Industry City is where it all comes together. After all, that’s where her Sunday Morning and Love Potion candles come to life—where soy wax is heated, mixed with fragrance, and poured into sleek, stylish tins and jars, topped off with stickers Tamara designs herself.

It’s no surprise that a candle-making studio might be a relaxing place, but Tamara’s workspace, with its vast wall of windows and tiny “shop” where you can smell every candle she makes, is especially calming. Dressed in jeans and a casually knotted button-up, she’s nothing if not approachable. That unstuffiness makes its way into her creations, too: they’re well crafted, beautifully designed, and smell great, but they’re not too self-serious. Made from soy wax, a sustainable, clean-burning alternative to traditional paraffin wax, each is perfumed and packaged with a care that shows… and they’re usually named something fun. You know, like “Love Potion.”

Watch our video to learn how Tamara bottles that “lazy Sunday” mood

We visited Tamara’s studio to see her goods crafted in the flesh—er, wax?—and spoke with her about where inspiration strikes (the subway), how long it takes to develop a new candle (longer than you’d think), and more. Read on for our Q&A.

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Gift Guides

Our Best Bets for September Birthdays

August 24, 2018

September’s coming, and you know what that means: September birthdays are coming, too. (It is the most popular birth month, if you didn’t know.) Don’t know what to snag your best Virgo—or Libra—pal? Worry not. We’ve got 19 suggestions, each more likely to induce birthday smiles than the last.

1. Fragrant soaps that mimic the look of real birthstones.

Birthstone Mineral Soaps | UncommonGoods

These soaps are so pretty, we wouldn’t begrudge you buying more than one—even if September’s all you really need. Colored completely with veggie-based dyes, they’re loaded with invigorating minerals and soothing vitamin E oil.

Birthstone Mineral Soaps – $20 Buy Now »

 

2. A necklace filled with real nonpareils.

Sprinkles Heart Necklace | UncommonGoods

Handmade in Brooklyn, it’s a great way to pay tribute to your sweetest pal.

Sprinkles Heart Necklace – $52 Buy Now »

 

3. Puzzles that unlock bottles of wine.

Wine Bottle Puzzles | UncommonGoods

Got a friend who likes their liquor with a side of problem-solving? These wooden brainteasers require decoding before they’ll relinquish their precious vino.

Wine Bottle Puzzles – $30 Buy Now »

 

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Gift Guides

13 Lovable Wedding Gifts for Uncommon Couples

August 8, 2018

Finding a good wedding gift ain’t easy, especially if you’re looking to live a little and—gasp!—go off registry. Lucky for you, we’ve got plenty of goods that freshly minted husbands and wives will appreciate, from sweet, cheerful mugs to custom artwork. Check out 13 of our favorites below.

1. Mugs for the couple that caffeinates together.

Open-Minded Couple Mugs | UncommonGoods

Handmade in California, these adorable mugs hold up to 21 ounces of coffee. (That’s a lot.) They’re also sold individually, so it’s easy to nab pairs for couples of all kinds.

Open-Minded Couple Mugs – $48 Buy Now »

 

2. Hand-painted platters that toast happy endings.

Happily Ever After Platter | UncommonGoods

Suzanne Pollack’s sweet, sentimental design celebrates a love that’s written in the stars, whether it’s between brides, grooms, or both.

Happily Ever After Platter – $84 Buy Now »

 

3. A custom-made vase crafted from a champagne bottle.

Personalized Champagne Wedding Vase | UncommonGoods

They’ll be popping champagne all night. What better way to remember their big day?

Personalized Champagne Wedding Vase – $75 Buy Now »

 

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Visiting Brooklyn’s Largest Rooftop Farm

August 6, 2018

Brooklyn Grange Co-Founder Ben Flanner in their Brooklyn rooftop farm, photos by Theresa Hensley

What do you expect to see when you step foot on an urban rooftop? “A farm” probably isn’t high on the list, but if you make your way to the top of Building 3 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you will, in fact, find yourself surrounded by edible greenery. That’s due in no small part to the work of Ben Flanner, President & Director of Agriculture at Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, where the peppers and herbs that give our Rooftop Garden Hot Sauce its unique flavor are grown. Getting hungry?

The Brooklyn Grange fields atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy yard make up the world’s largest rooftop soil farm.

As if “President & Director of Agriculture” weren’t impressive enough, Ben’s also one of Brooklyn Grange’s co-founders; he started the venture with Vice President Anastasia Cole Plakias and Chief Operating Officer Gwen Schantz in 2010. Armed with a background in management consulting and financial marketing—neither of which, you may notice, are farming—Ben took quickly to his new line of work. “Creating more green spaces in cities is ecologically, socially, and economically valuable on so many levels,” he says. “Personally, though, the idea to start farming was spurred by my love of agriculture, vegetables, and all of the many challenges and hats worn by a farmer.”

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Mushroom Lamp Creator
Danielle Trofe

June 4, 2018
Inside the Artist's Studio with Danielle Trofe | UncommonGoods

Danielle in her studio, photos by Theresa Hensley

Industry City is a strange place. Just one stop north of our headquarters in the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, it’s the closest thing New York has to an office park: a 40-acre expanse of old warehouses filled with artists’ studios, chocolate factories, and cafes where a cup of coffee could set you back a cool $14.75 (yes, really). Somewhere in those six million square feet of space, designer Danielle Trofe is hard at work. Or at least we imagine she is. She certainly was when we arrived to tour her studio, a sunlit space filled with pothos and other plants and objects made from her signature material, mycelium.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Danielle Trofe | UncommonGoods

If you’re browsing our blog and you’ve heard the word “mycelium” before, chances are you already know that Danielle is the creator of the Mushroom Lamp, an eco-friendly answer to high-end lighting. If you haven’t, you might be interested to know that Danielle’s lamp is made with a shade grown—yes, grown—from mushrooms’ roots and a base handcrafted with salvaged ash wood. It’s sleek, sophisticated, and makes planet Earth happy, too. But of course, it’s not the only thing Danielle makes. In her studio, you’ll find everything from hanging lamps shaped by hand over time to a large sign that says “grow” in playful cursive script. And that one word kinda sums it up, doesn’t it? Danielle’s a designer whose objects really, truly grow, changing shape, size, and texture over time until they’re juuuust right.

The Mushroom Lamp | UncommonGoods

The Mushroom Lamp | UncommonGoods

On a gorgeous, unseasonably balmy May day, we visited Danielle in Industry City and asked all about the stuff she makes—whether it’s safe for folks with mushroom allergies (yes), whether it’ll fall apart if you get water on it (not right away, but don’t pour water on a lamp, please), whether you can eat it (technically you could, but again, please don’t), and more. Read on for our full Q&A, plus more photos of Danielle’s stunning space.

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Gift Guides

13 Tasty Gifts for the Dad
Who’s Got It All

May 30, 2018

13 Tasty Gifts for the Dad Who’s Got It All | UncommonGoods

So your dad’s impossible to shop for. So what? If one thing’s for sure, it’s that a guy’s gotta eat. For those who can’t imagine a Father’s Day gift that’s not a version of something Dad already has, let us present a selection of our most scrumptious, uncommon foodstuffs, from irresistibly tangy condiments to cocktail kits that’ll have him feeling like a real bartender. Check ’em all out below. (Sorry if we make you hungry, but some things can’t be helped.)

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Gardening Gurus Nathan Littlewood & Robert Elliott

May 25, 2018

Robert, left, and Nathan, pictured here with the fruits of their labor

Apartment-dwellers—especially those of us in large cities—know all too well how difficult it can be to bring a little bit of greenery indoors. After all, plants are mysterious creatures that seem to get mad when you care about ’em too much, and starting something from seed can be a real rollercoaster. Can you tell I’m a helicopter parent to my houseplants? Anyway, growing your own stuff with minimal space is now much, much easier thanks to Nathan Littlewood and Robert Elliott, creators of our foolproof Bottle Stopper Garden Kit. With only a wine bottle, seeds, and Nathan and Robert’s expertly engineered “smart soil” capsules, you’ll be harvesting buckets of sweet basil, purple basil, and lemon balm in no time. (OK, maybe not buckets, but trust us: you’ll be seeing a lot of happy little leaves.)

After meeting at NYC’s own Columbia University back in 2016, Nathan and Robert bonded over shared interests in food and sustainability—and when they started a business together, they, like us, vowed to use it as a force for good. To find out what that means to them, we spoke with Nathan and Robert about their product, the ethos behind it, and cool stuff they’ve got lying around in the office… like, you know, a betta fish. Read on for more.

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Gift Guides

Father’s Day Gifts for the Backyard BBQ Master

May 24, 2018

Father’s Day Gifts for the Backyard BBQ Master | UncommonGoods

Ah, the lawn-loving dad. You know the type: when he’s not atop his riding mower, he’s getting veggies sliced and spiced for the grill—and when he’s not doing that, he’s setting up the badminton net or the croquet wickets. Ready for a little one-on-one? OK, calm down, we’re just setting the scene. For the pop that’s always outside, we’ve assembled 13 little somethings to enrich the experience this Father’s Day, from hammocks to handheld tools that keep the grill extra clean. Read on for more.

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