We get inspiration from what surrounds us; an artist can look at an insect and be amazed by its beauty while a fashion designer can draw inspiration from the petals of a flower. For David Bolotsky, it was no different, and one trip began the journey towards creating UncommonGoods. UncommonGoods has been with us for almost ten years, and it has had significant milestones that have affected other people as well and here are some of them.
1. UncommonGoods got inspiration from Smithsonian Museum craft show
When David Bolotsky, the founder of UncommonGoods, visited the Smithsonian Museum craft show in 1999, he got the idea of how the internet can help artisans cost-effectively display their goods. Then, artisans had to travel long distances to showcase their wares in person, which was uneconomical. The online sites such as Eziba.com and Novica.com at the time were few and posed no major competition.
2. UncommonGoods took four years to make a profit
Bolotsky funded the first years of UncommonGoods with his savings and investments from family, friends, and investors. In 2000, the dot com bubble burst to cause the stifling of the company’s growth which had begun to do well. Consequently, it took the firm four years to start making profits and about eight years before Bolotsky could earn a salary. Also, due to the slow growth, David had to reduce his staff from 35 to five in a series of layoffs.
3. It is a founding member of B Corporation
UncommonGoods became a founding member of B Corp in 2007 after meeting B labs standards. B Corp (Benefit Corporation) is authorized in the District of Columbia and 33 states in the US and aims to make a positive impact on the environment, society, community, and employees while also working towards making a profit. David advocated for the bill that legalized B Corp in New York in 2012.
4. UncommonGoods was named Forbes Small Giant
Forbes Small Giant is an annual list that celebrates 25 outstanding businesses which favor greatness, rather than growth. It is a partnership between Forbes and the Small Giants community to recognize 25 small companies in the US, and UncommonGoods made it to the list in 2018.
5. UncommonGoods near-death experience was David’s best failure
When Uncommon Goods almost failed in 2000, David had to shift his way of doing business by moving to a more organic model from inflated investor-backed growth. According to David, if the company had continued taking in more investors before figuring out where they were going wrong, UncommonGoods would have failed. Instead, the crash was only an eye-opener which turned out to be the best failure of David’s career.
6. For UncommonGoods to start, David had to quit his job
David had always wanted to be an entrepreneur since he was a teenager and at the age of 36, he was about to receive a multi-million dollar stock grant. However, the grant required him to commit for four years, and to David, that was a huge decision since he was about to start a family and people advised him against taking risks when children were on the way. David, however, decided to take the chance and quit his job to begin his journey as an entrepreneur.
7. Its CEO was scared of starting a business
Even though David had always wanted to start his own business, the idea of starting a company that might not be successful and ruin other people’s lives scared him. However, he quit being a retail research analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co where he had spent twelve years. He was doing well on Wall Street, and the idea of walking away from the job and start a business from scratch scared him.
8. UncommonGoods started operating in David’s apartment
In 1999 when David finally decided to start his business after putting off the idea 13 times, the firm was set up in his apartment. As the company expanded, it moved out of David’s apartment into downtown Manhattan. It currently has its headquarters in Brooklyn.
9. It provides stock options to employees
UncommonGoods offers its year-round employees stock options as some of the many benefits. Through the stock options, employees get a chance to invest in the company’s future.
10. It pays a starting wage of $15 for seasonal workers
UncommonGoods pays its seasonal workers twice the federal minimum wage. With the current federal minimum wage set at $7.25, UncommonGoods pays the seasonal workers $15 as a starting wage while the year-round employees get paid more.