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Better To Give

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

Why We Joined the TurboVote Challenge

September 17, 2018

On November 6, Americans will choose every single member of the US House of Representatives, a third of the US Senate, and many of the state and local officials who influence how our communities function daily.

Sounds important, right? Unfortunately, it’s pretty uncommon to see strong voter turnout during midterm elections.  Only 36% of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2014 midterm election, according to the US Elections Project. Voter turnout among women between 18 and 24 was just 18% during the last midterm election.

We’ve joined the TurboVote Challenge, powered by the non-partisan non-profit Democracy Works, to help the US achieve 80% voter turnout by 2024. Democracy Works develops technology to help Americans overcome process barriers related to voting,  including registration problems, lack of time, or inconvenient polling places. Through their TurboVote tool, you can register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and receive reminders about local, state, and federal elections.

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The Uncommon Life

Better to Give: Stand with Refugees

June 19, 2018

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a global movement to shed light on the resilience and strength of people who have escaped conflict and are rebuilding their lives. We’re proud to support our longtime partner the International Rescue Committee in standing with the most vulnerable around the world.

Refugee resettlement in the US is at an all-time low. With over 65 million people displaced in the world, the need to support refugees is more urgent now than ever. Watch the video below for practical ways you can make a difference for refugees in the US right now. Find out how you can get involved by visiting www.rescue.org/worldrefugeeday

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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The Uncommon Life

Protecting the Rare Kirtland’s Warbler with American Forests

February 18, 2018

*Editor’s note: Spring is almost here, and we’re celebrating by sharing a story from our longest-standing nonprofit partner, American Forests. Thanks to our Better to Give program, we’ve donated over $400,000 to American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation organization, since 2010. Read on for a report on their efforts to conserve the habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler, courtesy of the organization’s Manager of Forest Conservation, Justin Hynicka.

A Kirtland’s warbler in Stubb’s Park, Centerville, Ohio; photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

A bright future for Kirtland’s warbler in the Northern Great Lakes

By Justin Hynicka, American Forests Manager of Forest Conservation

I have a love-hate relationship with red-eye flights. On one hand, they maximize daylight on day one to explore my destination, which I love. On the other hand, it usually takes a day or two to shake off the cobwebs from poor sleep, which I don’t love. As if one night isn’t hard enough, just imagine taking a red-eye flight for two weeks straight. Oh, and you are also the pilot.

This is the journey the Kirtland’s warbler (KW; Setophaga kirtlandii) makes twice a year, traveling 1,700 miles in 16 days from the Bahamas to Michigan in spring, and back again in fall. [1] Even though KWs pass though many eastern states, they are rarely seen outside of their wintering and breeding areas due to a low-but-rising population and because they migrate at night. After such a journey, it’s hard to blame them for being one of only a few warblers to nest on the ground.

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The Uncommon Life

Why We Keep Marching

January 14, 2018


On Saturday, January 21, 2017, women across the world marched together to protest injustice, lift each other up, and send the powerful message that women’s rights are human rights. Thanks to the combined efforts of millions of people, it was the largest single protest day in US history. From clever signs to a well-rehearsed song, marchers came prepared to fight for equality. As a plethora of pink hats stood out among the signs, songs, and crowds, it became clear that the hat would go down in history as a symbol of female power and unity.

Recognizing that the hat makes a strong statement, our Product Development team decided to incorporate it in a design that celebrates women. The Keep Marching Necklace is a wearable reminder that while there may not be an organized demonstration every day, the march for equality continues.

Keep Marching Necklace | UncommonGoods

The necklace was designed by women who wanted to not only create a beautiful piece, but also develop a product that could make a positive impact. With that in mind, $5 from the sale of each Keep Marching Necklace supports our longtime Better to Give partner RAINN. Since partnering in 2010, we’ve donated over $350,ooo to RAINN–the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization–and hope to grow that amount when you select RAINN at checkout (our $1 donation is at no cost to you) and through givebacks on designs like our Keep Marching and Hope Shines necklaces.

As we approach a series of Women’s Marches planned for January 20 and 21, 2018, we asked the women behind this necklace to share what the pink hat symbol means to them and why they keep marching.

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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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