Hi there! I’m Gaby Dolceamore from UncommonGoods, a Brooklyn-based online retailer that works with handmade artists across the country to bring unique beautiful products to our customers. I play the role of Community Outreach Coordinator which covers a lot of areas like digital marketing, social media, and public relations but the most exciting and rewarding part of my job is building UncommonGoods’ community of designers through our design challenges.

Once a month we host a different call for entries for handmade products and we get to meet hundreds of new artists in the process.  When the call is over, our buyers pick their top favorites to add into our voting tool where our online community narrows down the group to 5 or so finalists. Then our judging panel, usually comprised of buyers, artists, and bloggers, weigh in on the designs and a winner is chosen. The best part for me and my colleague Emily is getting to call the winner to let them know they are receiving $500 and will be selling their design on our website. From there we love building a relationship with our new artists and learning about them through interviews and studio tours. Our artists are as uncommon as their products and we’re so proud of each and every one of them.

Matthew Amey for Uncommon Goods

In April of last year we held our first Art Contest, a call for any two-dimensional art that we would print, frame, and sell in a limited run. We received a range of incredible pieces from portraits, to collages, and sketches. But the piece that won the judge’s affection was Matthew Amey’s Jump Off, a black and white depiction of a child leaping from a tree swing. The simplicity of his work allowed a panel of judges to all feel the moment Amey was attempting to capture – that moment when everyone let’s go of their childhood. Upon getting to know the artist better, I learned that ink and paper was not his usual method of expression, but ink and SKIN! A tattoo artist by day, Matthew submitted some portfolio pieces he put together for a client.

Etta Kostick for Uncommon GoodsI love telling the story of Etta Kostick, the jewelry designer from the 2012 Jewelry Design Challenge that didn’t take first place but might be the most successful artist to have come from a design challenge. The judges on her panel decided to offer the grand prize to a design that was customizable, something our customers really love, but the buyers brought her stained glass jewelry into our collection. After becoming one of our best-selling jewelry lines and gracing the cover of this year’s Mother’s Day catalog, we are excited to introduce a new line of fused-glass jewelry by Etta this fall!

Susan Harbourt for Uncommon GoodsOne of the strongest connections I have made is with Susan Harbourt whose Forget Me Not Necklace won our Upcycling Design Challenge. She handmade each of her designs of reclaimed copper from her old home and before coming to UncommonGoods, never sold on a large scale to a retailer. We have helped her scale up and challenged her to develop her original design into an entire product collection.

We can’t wait to meet the other artists and designers to come our way. This year we decided to keep our Jewelry Design Challenge running all year round to open the door to new designers. Every month is a new chance to submit your latest designs and join our artist family. Have a piece to show our buying team? Submit today!