Looking for a gift which is truly exceptional and unique? Searching for something handcrafted from an exotic corner of the globe but wanting assurance that your money is going directly to the artisan who created it?
Travel is now the world’s largest industry, and as such, we as travelers have real power. We have the power to choose who we open our wallets to, and where we choose to travel has real economic and political significance. Using our power as consumers and economic leverage as travelers, we are able to support the most ethical destinations and organizations and send a message to the rest of the world in doing so.
In a world where there are so many mass produced products, with no record of who made them, organizations like UncommonGoods give us the choice to say no to sweatshops and child labor, and to vote with our wallets for a happier world. They connect local artisans to a global marketplace of socially conscious customers.
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In 1999, Dave Bolotsky visited a Smithsonian Museum craft show in Washington D.C. and was captivated by the variety of unique handmade goods and the talented people behind them. He saw there was a significant public demand for beautiful design. At the same time, he realized that the artists working to make those pieces were often traveling great distances in order to sell their wares at the show.
Inspired by his experience, Dave had a vision to create something that had never existed before—an online marketplace to connect makers and their creations with individuals looking for truly special goods, regardless of the physical distance between the maker and the shopper. Dave turned this idea into UncommonGoods.
UncommonGoods are about finding designs that serve a purpose, solve a problem, stun us with their beauty, or make us wonder why no one thought of it before. They offer products that are handmade with impeccable craftsmanship and that are made from interesting, unusual, reclaimed, or recycled materials.
The platform gives talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market. They have thousands of top fair trade corporate gifts, accessories, jewelry and home decor items on their website, all hand crafted from artisans from regions like Thailand, Indonesia, India, and the United States.
The fact is, artisans from around the world (many living in rural communities) don’t have the means to sell their work on the international market. Uncommon Goods gives them a free platform to do this, and reach customers on a global scale.
The following are our favorite products after a quick search through their online catalog.
Indian Sari Scarf
“Up-cycled” from vintage saris in India, this gorgeous scarf is a patchwork of rich, jewel-colored pieces of luxurious silk. To make the scarves, individual saris are cut into strips and hand stitched together with others to create a vibrant blend of color.
The scarf is then moistened, tightly twisted, and wound around a bamboo pole, creating a beautiful, rippling texture as it dries. Each scarf has unique variations in its pattern and colors, and can be worn wrapped around the shoulders or head. Handmade in India from 100% recycled materials.
View on UncommonGoods.
Latitude Longitude Pendant
If your sense of adventure is as daring as your style then this personalized keepsakes is exactly what you’ve been searching for! Remember your favorite place with this custom stamped pendant, featuring coordinates close to your heart.
Suspended from a sterling silver chain is a hand-forged, solid recycled sterling silver pendant. It pinpoints the place of your choosing with hand-stamped geographic coordinates in latitude and longitude. The reverse side of the pendant is impressed with the image of an elaborate, vintage-inspired compass rose, reminding you to always remain true to yourself. Comes with silver polishing cloth. Handmade in Seattle, Washington.
UncommonGoods also has a range of Latitude and Longitude bracelets and rings. Check out their selection of jewelry here.
Goto Venetian Wine Glasses
If you were afraid to travel home with Venetian glass on your last trip to Italy, you’re in luck! Italian artist Massimo Lunardon creates a colorful interpretation of the classic Venetian wine glass, or goto, with this set of six hand-blown glasses. Have these authentic glasses shipped directly to you so you don’t have to worry about anything breaking in your suitcase.
The undulating shape and confetti swirls on these unique tumblers bring fun and personality to any meal or gathering–adding a stylish design touch to a well-dressed table.
Do Good Hammock
Doing good in the world has never been so comfortable. This ultra-cozy hammock-for-two helps to support the people who make it—members of the a small village of the endangered Mlabri people in northern Thailand.
The Mlabri were nearly wiped out in the mid 20th century, when the teak forests that were their home were cut down for decorative wood. But they have begun a slow resurgence by turning to their traditional weaving skills as a source of sustainable income for their community.
This hanging hideaway is hand woven from three miles of soft, acrylic cord–an intensive process which takes six to seven days to complete. Its rich color palette is inspired by volcanic lava flowing down into the ocean. A comfy retreat for a solo lounger, this hammock is woven extra wide so that two people can soak in the sun side by side. It is designed to support a combined weight up to 400 pounds, and comes with its own, handy tote bag made from repurposed nylon. Handmade in Thailand.
Bronze Custom Map Key Ring
Carry your keys on this ring that preserves a map clipping of your cherished locale of choice. No matter how many miles away you are, you can always carry a memento that’s spot on.
Take your favorite locale on the road with you with this handsome travel companion that preserves the memory of your most cherished sites while keeping your keys organized and accessible. Customized to the coordinates of your choosing, each map or chart swatch is immortalized in resin and mounted in bronze. International locations available, but maps may less detailed.
Handmade by John and Charlotte Guptill in the USA…these artists make a range of assorted map mementos too. This could be a great anniversary gift (view more anniversary gift ideas here).
Recycled Glass Elephants Nightlight
The soft glow of this painterly nightlight illuminates a sweet scene of a baby elephant tagging along with its parent for protection against the backdrop of night. When aglow, the luminescent glass mosaic fills a room with ambient colored light that is bright enough to illuminate obstacles, but soft enough to sleep through.
The colorful, textured glass is made from 100% post-consumer bottle glass, kiln formed by artisans Vawn and Mike Gray. Handmade in Cape Coral, Florida.
This is a great gift for kids, and a fantastic way to inspire a curiosity for travel, wildlife and the world. UncommonGoods has a great range of uncommon gifts for kids – browse here.
Upcycled Indonesian Batik Bag
Whether you’re running to a hot yoga class, a day at the beach, or the farmer’s market, this bold and beautiful bag totes your essentials in style. Crafted from upcycled traditional batik cloth, each fair trade cotton bag has a unique patchwork design, lending one-of-a-kind appeal to your ensemble.
Handmade in Indonesia, this patchwork purse displays an ancient wax-resist dyeing technique applied by skilled Indonesian artisans.
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Photo credits: Featured photo by Flickr User Miradortigre. Pinterest Images by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Tul Bahadur BK furniture making business by Jim Holmes for AusAID. Woman covering face with thatched fan by Connor Ashleigh for AusAID. Artisan carving wood by Rossana Ferreira.
Post completed in collaboration with UncommonGoods.