Have you heard about UncommonGoods? They are a really interesting company because they’re hyper-aware of the world around them and strive to offer unusual finds and beautiful handcrafted goods, while trying to respect the world in which they are created and the people who produce them. Much of what they sell is made in the USA, where even the lowest paid, seasonal employees earn 50% above minimum wage. About a third of what they sell is made from recycled/upcycled materials. As a feminist, what excites me most is that they work with not-for-profits – donating $1,000,000 to date and raising awareness – including RAINN (the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the States), Women for Women International (which provides tools for self-sufficiency to refugee women and survivors of war), and Reach Out & Read (a network of doctors and nurses working to promote literacy and language skills in the States). I try to support socially conscious businesses, who sell goods manufactured in North America – or at least under livable/ethical conditions that don’t exploit workers overseas – but I’m far (far!) from perfect. The Siren Song of something cheap and cheerful sometimes beckons me, even though I know what factors drive prices down. I know I should make more of an effort to learn where and how the things I buy are made, and I’ve been working on that as a personal goal, so I appreciate when a company makes it their policy to try their best to make a positive impact on the world. If we each do a little…
I was given the opportunity to hand select items to review from UncommonGoods, and this gave me a chance to not only peruse the website but also test out the services. The first item that I chose is a handmade lidded basket (click here to get the full scoop), which I actually really needed (okay, wanted). After our paper shredder gave up the ghost, we started using all of our sensitive documents and receipts as fire starter instead of shredding and recycling them. We needed a place to store this paper (which amasses so quickly). We’d been searching for something with a lid to hide the mess, to no avail. No local shops had what we were after so we were using a weird, tiny, orange pail that we had received some beer in. This handmade basket caught my eye because it’s aqua, but the lid and handles made it perfect for our intended use.
The basket is handmade in Senegal. You can read more about the designer and her desire to bring independence to rural African communities right here.
Right now, the basket is sitting beside the firewood cubby but if I want to stash it in the office, the handles make it easy to maneuver – even when it’s full. It would look cute anywhere in the house (the bonus of a limited whole home colour palette).
Apologies for the horribly ugly wood in the cubby. I mentioned on Instagram that because I carefully selected the prettiest rounds all winter, now I’m saddled with some real uggos. We are going to call them organic and rustic. Every room needs a rustic touch, right?
Once I had a “practical” item chosen, I decided to pick something fun and decadent. I really contemplated an agate cheese plate (click here to see) because the hunk of teal agate was calling my name, but I decided that a set of agate coasters (this set, to be precise) would be more practical for me. Remember how I regretted not buying that second set of agate coasters when I made my DIY Framed Agate art? Even though I have my solid wood DIY hex coasters, I can always make room for more. I’m actually keeping this agate set in my office, to protect the solid wood top Hubby made for my treadle sewing machine desk. I always have a mug of piping hot tea close at hand (it’s getting chilly again and snowed a few days ago!).
You can buy these agate slice coasters gilded (click here), but I happen to prefer the raw look of the stone. It’s dyed agate so it’s not completely “natural,” but I like the organic quality. It complements my rustic log pile 😉
Everything was shipped carefully and beautifully. The agate coasters, for example, had some neatly trimmed foam between each slice for protection, but it looked nice enough to gift as-is, so you could easily order something from UncommonGoods and have it shipped directly to a recipient. Both items were shipped separately, so there was no chance of them damaging each other in transit. One thing that really impressed me about UncommonGoods is how nicely they handle customer reviews. When they first contacted me, I perused their website and read reviews on many of the products I liked. All of the reviews are uncensored – some products have hundreds – and any negative reviews (which are few and far between) have been dealt with politely and thoroughly – I love that! You can shop with confidence thanks to that transparency. And, if you’re in a hurry or looking for something specific, you can shop by theme, like “Personalized Jewelry” (click here if you’re curious), or “Housewarming Gifts” (which you’ll find right here). It’s perfect if you have a specific occasion, person (like a recent grad!), or price range in mind.
Perhaps the most important thing to know, which you’ll discover if you click over, is that UncommonGoods has a really beautifully curated collection of pretty and practical items that are perfect for gift-giving – or making your own space more special. You don’t need to sift through a million items but you’re certain to find something special – from the comfort of your living room!
Disclosure: I partnered with UncommonGoods for this post but was not prompted to provide a positive review of their goods or service. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I will definitely purchase from UncommonGoods the next time I’m searching for a gift for that hard-to-shop for person.
A note to my fellow Canadians: some items do not ship to Canada, unfortunately – but you’ll know immediately which ones do and don’t, which makes shopping easier. I had my items shipped to a shipping depot across the border. I might live in a small city, but proximity to the States makes it pretty sweet! They do try to make it easy by immediately recognizing your location as Canadian, so all prices show up in our dollar and the shipping quotes include duties and taxtes, with guaranteed landing fees – which is a big deal for International shipments. As a Canadian, I feel very proud when I can support Canadian businesses, which I try to do as often as I can, but supporting American businesses is important to me too. I feel a close connection to the US (partly because I’m so close I could probably lob a rock onto American soil with a good quality trebuchet), but also because I think that keeping jobs in North America – and supporting ethical overseas manufacturing – benefits us all.