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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Values: Our Guiding Principles

November 6, 2019

What makes a workplace great? Your knee-jerk response might focus on salary and benefits, but we all know it’s more than that. Do you feel challenged? Are you encouraged to grow? Do you have a say in your company’s direction? Do you feel like it’s your company? Do you like your co-workers? We’ve had the goal of being a great place to work for a long time, but that can mean different things to different people. We realized that in order to actually make it happen and in turn become a stronger, more impactful business, we had to figure out what “great place to work” meant to us.

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Through discussions with our leadership, work with our human resources team and a trusted advisor, looking at the practices of businesses we admire, and a lot of feedback from team members across the company, we put who we want to be as an organization into words with our seven Guiding Principles.

Each of our Principles helps us define what we’re working to be as a company, and what we want to mean to the people who work here. In short, they’re a set of guidelines to keep us all moving in the same direction. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be differences of opinion expressed. In fact, the Principles are set up to empower folks around here to do just that.

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The Uncommon Life

1 Jar, 4 Overnight Oats Recipes

July 16, 2019

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The Uncommon Life

Video | Mindfulness, Sustainable Living, Screenless Play: Why Our Buyers Are Into These Trends

May 15, 2019

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The Uncommon Life

7 Teachers Told Us What Gifts They Actually Want

May 7, 2019

You’re reading this. And where did you learn to do that? Most likely, in school. So let’s have a moment of teacher appreciation! Gifts for teachers aren’t the only way to let them know much we appreciate their skill and dedication. They teach because they love it, so a heartfelt letter means a great deal. But they deserve to receive thoughtful teacher gifts, too, especially at the end of the year.

Teacher gift ideas aren’t so easy to dream up, though. So we formed a panel of experts (aka, teachers around the country that our coworkers and friends put us in touch with) to hear their thoughts on this question: What are the best teacher gifts?


Most memorable?

“I think the best gift was a cactus. The kid was really sweet, and for whatever reason I didn’t expect a plant. That was 16 years ago and I still have that cactus.” – Mark, Queens, NY

“The most memorable are from people I felt a connection to: pistachios from [an] Iranian student; [a] strange cat statue & clay baking pots & [a] cashmere wrap from [a] Russian student. Some were memorable for the strangeness: a plastic flower ‘bouquet’ that lit up.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“An orchid that is still alive and blooming in spite of me.” – Karen, Miami, FL

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Best gift? Most touching?

“[Gifts that are] fresh out of the oven.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN

“I think [a coffee cup]. [T]he cup just said ‘Inspiration’ on it and the student included a nice card saying that he was inspired by my class and the things he had learned in it. He was of my best all time students. I teach at a media arts college part-time. I’m the Program Chair for Audio Engineering and Production. This kid is now out there doing it for real so I guess the cup don’t lie.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN

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“One time a student gave me some drawings of me. Sweet gesture, but really horrible art. Heh.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“Last Christmas one student put together a kit to help me make the perfect pot of tea. I have also gotten homemade cookies, and once I received an excellent spa basket with soaps, moisturizers, towels, and bath bombs….Sometimes I get gifts for my birthday, or when my daughters were born. One year a student baked me a cake in the shape of Grumpy Cat, which was great. ” – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA

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“It is fun when a student notices something that I like and uses that to create a gift. Or, draws upon a common experience we’ve shared (like when I took my team to Disneyland and they bought me things there—cool pins and mugs.) – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA

“About five years ago, a student whose family was going through very rough times financially made a Christmas ornament for me. It is a heart cut out of notebook paper and a red ribbon. I hang it on my tree every year.” – Stephanie, Prosper, TX

“One of my [7th grade] students a few years back gave me a frame with a picture of us and a note saying that come graduation, I am so invited. I still have her note and picture on my desk.” – Marisa, Katy, TX


Most useful?

“A mom sent me an eye mask, chocolate, and tea—seriously she spoke my love language. She included a note wishing me a great break with plenty of relaxing time in.” – Marisa, Katy, TX

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“One class gave me a new printer because I kept apologizing for the low quality of my printer, which was slowly breaking down.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“A money envelope that could be personalized in some way and then PUT MONEY in it. Teachers need money. Like a money clip with Real Money in it. The amount of money we end up spending on classes is ridiculous. It would be great to get something back in return.” – Lianne, New York, NY

The other most appreciated, practical gift = food. Nuts. Wine. Dates. And sweets, of course. – Lianne, New York, NY

“A scarf. Navy blue with white polka dots. Silk faced on one side, blue wool on the other. Fringed. Had it for years and wear it every spring and fall. Wore it today.” – Mark, Queens, NY

“Functional things for the classroom.” – Karen, Miami, FL

Other valuable advice?

“Flowers I love, but very often I receive them early in the day and then I don’t get home until late and by then they’re half dead.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“I know gifts aren’t the ultimate way to feel appreciated, but they sure do help. It doesn’t have to be anything big, and it definitely doesn’t have to be anything costly, but a gift acknowledges that we matter and we were thought of. For the students that are younger and middle school students, we know it’s the parents that are initiating the process. It teaches the students that it’s okay to take that extra step to show someone you appreciate them.” – Marisa, Katy, TX

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The Uncommon Life

Slainte! The Surprising Story of Irish Whiskey & St. Patrick’s Day

March 7, 2019

The Shamrock GlassCelebrating St. Patrick’s Day

You might not feel particularly lively the morning after a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration, but that doesn’t stop many from partaking in the “water of life” in honor of Ireland. In other words, the rivers of Irish Whiskey will flow on March 17.

This golden-brown beverage has a rich history, so we thought we’d share a little more about Irish Whiskey.

Yours, Mine, & Ours Decanter Det

Yours, Mine, and Ours Engraved Decanter Set – $65 Buy Now »


Uisce on the rocks, please.

Where did whiskey come from?

Actually, whiskey as we know it came to be in Ireland. In the 6th century monks used distilled grains as the base for medicines. They called it “Uisce Beatha,” in Goidelic, or “water of life,” thanks to its healing properties. (While some may argue that whiskey doesn’t have any healing properties, keep in mind that it is antiseptic and a pain killer.) Over time, the spirit became known as “whiskey,” a mispronunciation of “Uisce.”


Irish Spirit

Whiskey love spread across Europe over time. For example, to Scotland, where it developed in to Scotch. It’s said that Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed imbibing in the distilled drink, and Peter the Great once proclaimed, “of all the wines, the Irish spirit is the best.”

Irish Whiskey Shamrock Glass
Sham-Rock Glass – $48- $50 Buy Now »


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The Uncommon Life

Meet Industrial Designer Tyson Cromwell, Winner Of UncommonGoods’ Spring 2019 Scholarship

March 1, 2019

Tyson’s winning design.

We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program.

This time around, our scholarship team was mesmerized by the beauty of winner Tyson Cromwell’s furniture design. Tyson received $1,000 to use toward continuing his education at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he’s currently studying industrial design.

We asked Tyson to share a little more about his career aspirations, his love of design, and how his father helps inspire his work. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.

Tyson and his baby daughter, who inspired him to design his winning crib.


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