Monday, November 5, 2018

Fair Trade for Chanukah

I noticed a small uptick in our fair trade kippot sales recently. I'm sad that this may partially be motivated by the unthinkable massacre at Tree of  Life synagogue.  Those of us left behind to mourn and then worry about increasing antisemitism often choose to to wear our religion more proudly. One college student from Pittsburgh even wrote me and asked if I could offer a discount on one of our designs so she could (better afford to) stand in solidarity. (I did.) I've noticed several friends on social media proudly posting that they are once again wearing their childhood Star of David necklaces.

Heinous acts apparently motivate pride. And kindness. In the spirit of both, I thought I'd encourage everyone to support fair trade for Judaica purchases. Chanukah is coming up quickly this year, December 2-10. Why not make more of a difference?  Here are my 7 suggestions for fair trade Judaica gifts for you or your loved ones. Some are specific to Chanukah. Some not.

1. CROCHET & BEADED KIPPOT - You know I had to mention Dunitz & Company and our fair trade kippot.  Most of our yarmulkes were designed with women in mind.  Yes, we have pieces perfect for men too. I suggest you browse the Dunitz site to find the perfect style and color for you. Our designs are crochet by hand, embroidered and then adorned with Czech glass beads. We've been working with artisans in Guatemala since 1989 and Dunitz & Company is a fair trade verified member of Fair Trade Federation.

2. CHOCOLATE CHANUKAH GELT  -  Last year I had the joy of discovering Divine Chocolate's fair trade certified Chanukah gelt coins. Growing up, chocolate coins were a tradition in my home. Divine Chocolate has partnered with T'ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights to promote kosher fair trade gelt. Now you can share and eat these guilt free! (Yes, they still have plenty of calories.) You also can feel good knowing cacao farmers were paid fairly and children were not enslaved to help with the harvest.

3. STAR OF DAVID PENDANT - Seeing friends of mine post recently about their childhood Star of David necklaces definitely had me searching for a fair trade option.  Partners for Just Trade offers this simple design that will undoubtedly make a perfect Chanukah gift for someone you know.  This pendant is made in Peru of sterling silver. And since Partners for Just trade are Fair Trade Federation members, that means this pendant is fair trade verified.

4. ORGANIC OLIVE OIL - Looking for the perfect hostess gift or something special for the cook in your family? For me, Chanukah always conjures up thoughts of latkes and  fresh couscous. And for this, you need some premium olive oil. Serrv International (another Fair Trade Federation member) partners with Sindyanna of Galilee, a female-run organization that markets fair trade olive oil channeling all profits back to educating Arab women. Not only will you benefit from it's affordability, you're purchase makes a difference. Your purchase offers Arab farmers in Israel a fair price for their crops, Palestinian and Israeli women greater economic opportunity, and a rare model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Learn more on their site.

5. HANDWOVEN CHALLAH COVER - I remember fondly making "French Toast" with my big sister during our childhood winter holidays. And in our house, it was always made with fresh challah bread. Yes.Yes. I know a challah cover is typically used on the shabbat table. But when I think of challah, I always think of Chanukah time too.  So for this reason, I'm suggesting this beautiful handwoven blue challah cover with white stars from Mayan Hands as a lovely gift. I've been acquainted with the women behind Mayan Hands for many years, and I can personally attest to the great work they're doing and the difference they make in several Guatemalan communities. Mayan Hands is a member of Fair Trade Federation.

6. CHANUKAH PAPEL PICADO BANNER - Will you be hosting a holiday party this year? Why not consider decorating with a traditional Mexican paper cut banner? Or take one to the party you'll be attending! Casa Bonampak, has been working with artisans in Chiapas, Mexico for nearly 25 years. (Now that's what I call "sustainability".) These fun adornments are composed of ten silver and blue metallic sheetsNot enough to stretch the length of your living room? Purchase 2.  You'll be glad to know Casa Bonampak is another fair trade verified member of Fair Trade Federation.

 7. FAIR TRADE COFFEE - & Finally, never ever forget the coffee. And always make your coffee fair trade. Twin Engine Coffee not only serves up some awesome beans from Nicaragua they wrap it up in some swell looking packaging. That makes for perfect gift giving. Support them this season, and take advantage of their free shipping offer for purchases over $25.  You know you and many of your loved ones will be drinking coffee. Fill your heart and mugs full, by supporting those that live by Fair Trade Federation's nine principles.

Dunitz & Company has been offering our fair trade kippot for several years. When I didn't think there was a market for fair trade yarmulkes, I was always encouraged by Ilana Schatz, who until recently served as the Executive Director of Fair Trade Judaica. Her tireless energy promoting fair trade to Jewish scholars and educators has helped build a demand for many items, including some mentioned in my list above. We all love beautiful things. Our world is a much better place when all of those beautiful things we choose to own are made by individuals who are paid fairly, treated with respect and work in safe environments.

My wish for all of you this holiday season is for peace, love and fair trade. -ND

Friday, October 19, 2018

15 Fair Trade Verified Gift Websites for Holiday Shopping

The holidays will soon be upon us and of course I hope you will purchase all of your fair trade jewelry and Judaica gifts from Dunitz & Company. If you're reading my blog, you are almost certainly interested in fair trade. Perhaps you're in the market for home goods, children's toys or aromatherapy? My Fair Trade Federation colleagues have you covered. Here's a list of 15 fabulous sites where you can almost certainly find a potpourri of amazing fair trade treasures for you and your loved ones.

In alphabetical order:

1. Awaken - Awaken is a new member of  Fair Trade Federation and I've been drooling over their hipster scarves and clothing. Their designs, handmade in Thailand are so cool. My guess is after checking them out, you might be purchasing gifts for you and your favorite gal pals at Awaken sometime soon.

2. Casa Bonampek - Are you looking for traditional Mexican banners? You won't find a better site for Day of the Dead or Holiday gear. Looking to give your seasonal party some Latin flair? Search this site for the perfect thing.

 3. Dunitz & Company - Yes, that's my business and I've been working with artisans in Guatemala since 1990! Please check out our site to find incredible seed bead, embroidered and fused glass jewelry designs. We also have the most special kippot for women. Questions, I'm always here to help.

 4. Eternal Threads - I think you'll be really impressed with the wide selection of gifts from all over the globe offered by Eternal Threads. I am. (And this site is also offering some Dunitz fair trade jewelry this season.) From sophisticated to hippy, you'll find a lot of awesome gifts for your favorite friends and family.

5.  Fair Trade Winds - If you're not familiar with Fair Trade Winds, you should be. They have an amazing website offering so many wonderful fair trade items. They know retailing well since they own and manage several brick & mortar shops too. And since they've been my (wholesale) customer for several years, I can say with confidence that they are some of the nicest people I know.

6. Freeset USA - I only recently learned about Freeset USA, even though they've been a member of Fair Trade Federation longer than Dunitz.  I'm so impressed with their long line of handbags, totes and duffels (made in India) which really have a great hip young vibe. They even offer fair trade T-shirts. I also found out that Freeset produces goods for other FTF members, private label. 

7. Kahiniwalla - Let's talk kids! Kahiniwalla offers the most amazing children's toys and accessories. I think you'll be hard pressed to find anything, anywhere available that is more precious that this collection crafted in Bangladesh. If you have tots on your gift list, you must take a look at this site.

 8. Maroma USA - This site is luscious. Maroma offers a very appealing collection of incense, luminaries, fragrance and body care, all handcrafted in India. They also have products tailored for men. 

9. Mehera Shaw - You'll have to search the Mehera Shaw site to discover all that they do. They've been working with artisans in Jaipur, India since 1999 and offer a wide selection of modern clothing and accessories. They even have Christmas stockings and ornaments for sale.

10. Mr. Ellie Pooh - Looking for note cards, photo albums, journals or other paper products? Then you absolutely need to consider Mr.Ellie Pooh's adorable line-up. Fairly produced in Sri Lanka, Ellie's offerings are made from recycled paper which is 30% comprised of elephant dung. Seriously. Click to learn more. 

11. Nativa - Nativa is all about fine Mexican clothing. If you know me, you know I'm crazy for beautiful embroidery work. I'm certain you'll also be drooling over this company's fine crafted blouses, dresses and children's wear. They even have yoga bags. 

12. One World Fair Trade - Looking for a wide range of gifts? One World's site might be the perfect one stop shop for you. I've been working with the One World team for many years (they sell Dunitz in their brick & mortar shop) and I can personally attest to their sophisticated and well designed choices. 

13. Shop With A Mission - It surprises me that I didn't know about this website until I started researching for this article. Heavenly Treasures/Shop With A Mission has been a Fair Trade Federation member since 2010 and their US offices are located in Southern California. (Gee, I've obviously been living in a bubble.) After checking out their site, I am marveled by their wide selection of fair trade gifts. You'll certainly find some great ideas here. 

14. Women's Peace Collection - The Women's Peace Collection is a social enterprise that helps women around the world by supporting their work and entrepreneurship. They currently offer jewelry, accessories (including some cold weather gloves that are super yummy), home decor and children's toys. Oh yes, and a few Dunitz designs, too!

15. Zee Bee Market - You'll love Zee Bee Market's website. It's so well designed and so easy to navigate with a wide assortment of fun gifts for just about everyone you know. And since they also operate two brick & mortar shops in Missouri, they have a great pulse on what customers want to find online. Click here to explore their site.

So there you have it!  A perfect list of 15 fabulous retail fair trade websites where you can take care of all your gift purchasing needs.  You will find great gifts and if you have time, each one of these sites shares their unique stories. Stories of how they began working in fair trade. Stories of their artisans from varying countries. Stories of how fair trade makes a difference. And with the knowledge of how all these companies are making a difference, you will have a better understanding of how your purchases are also making a difference in so many lives.

Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry and Judaica is so proud to be part of the Fair Trade Federation family.  Our heart fills with joy because we are part of this important group of business people who care so much about human dignity and our planet. -ND

Friday, October 5, 2018

Forever Jade. Always Loved. Always In Style.

I'm always making sure that Dunitz fair trade jewelry is offered in a host of colors you'll find on the runway and featured on retail clothing racks. Spring 2019 will be no different. But honesty, there is one range of colors that seems to always sell. It's always on the runway. And it's always available at your local boutique. That's stunning Jade. Any tint or shade.

Pantone is forecasting vibrant oranges, pinks, reds, yellows and salmon for our soon to be warmer weather. We say hats off to the designers who follow their hearts and the unending desire of their audiences for jade.

Victoria Beckham's Spring 2019 features several outfits in classic jade. She's one smart designer.  And what is more comfie that a jumpsuit too? And flats. (the shoes!) We love her!

This combo of jade and seafoam is one that really appeals to me, personally. My mother (the original Joanie M) used to tease me when I was a kid. She'd say "Nancy, you always have to have a sweater in teal or jade or seafoam. What's up with that?" This adorable look comes from Roberto Cavalli. I want to be wearing that outfit!

Ana Sui is always about color. For Spring 2019 she has included lighter and darker shades of this fan favorite. And lots of it. (In the 1990s, Ana Sui's Soho, New York store sold some of our jewelry. That was a kick for me!)

Stella McCartney has a lot of sparkles going on for Spring 2019 ready-to-wear. This blouse-y dress is sparkling in teal-y jade-y mint-y colors. Yum. Yum. (I've spilled the beans. You now know these have always been my favorite colors too.) Truth be told, McCartney's current show featured a lot of neutrals. Yes, there was one crazy vibrant orange outfit. And a bright turquoise number. And - this one!

J. Mendel Spring 2019 runway looks featured lots of eye candy in candy colors. Pinks. Yellows. Peach. And Jade & Mint too! His styling really appeals to me. And yes, the  many outfits in my favorite color.

Truth be told. Many designers seemed to offer a lot of white, black and gray for Spring 2019. This is no exception for the boasted looks of Balmain. Just as with many other designers, his collection featured a few outfits in mint-jade. How could I not zoom in on this top worn with a pair of gray high waisted pants?

So there you have it! Forever Jade. Always Loved. And Always in Style. Dunitz fair trade jewelry will be yours for Spring 2019 in my favorite and frankly many customer's favorite color. Are you on board? -ND

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Securing Kippot to a Bald Head. We've Been Asked.

Many of you are familiar with Dunitz & Company's fair trade Judaica collection. We believe our crochet, beaded & embroidered fair trade kippot designed for women are some of the most beautiful available. Guys shouldn't fret. We offer a few styles that are quite manly. Take our "Star of David" design, for example. For many years we've exclusively wholesaled our kippot. Now, we are also offering them at retail on Etsy, Amazon Handmade and Shop Dunitz. (Yes, pricing is in line with anything you'd pay from our retail partners.) But, here's the thing. It wasn't until we started retailing that we received inquiries about how a bald man might wear our designs.

Our research began. Dunitz & Company yarmulkes have always featured little braided straps on the underside that are perfect for hiding bobby pins or other clips. This is a terrific feature if you're a man or woman with hair.

I learned on line that some bald men choose to wear larger size kippot that fit over their entire head, something beanie-like. Others opt for suede kippot. I read that suede creates more friction so it sits more securely on a bald head. (I have no proof of this. Do we believe everything we read? Just don't bounce around too much, I'm guessing.)

And then there was the obvious answer. But, seriously, it didn't easily present itself when researching on line. No, not super-glue. Not even velcro. (Although this seems a more plausible solution.)  The easy solution is double-sided fashion tape. There seems to be many brands and variations available. Rolls. Strips. And duh! Men have been using double-sided tape for their toupees since forever. This is the perfect solution to secure a kippot on a bald head. The roll shown to the right is by 3M.  A quick search online will reveal that this sort of tape is readily available and not expensive.

So now we all know how to secure a kippa to a bald man's head. It's such an easy solution. And obviously by the questions I've received, I'm not the only one who didn't have the answer.  Manly kippot? We've got 'em.  Looking for a yarmulke for your guy-pal? Whether he's bald or not, please consider Dunitz & Company's fair trade Judaica collection. -ND

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Conversation with Fair Trade Advocate, Molly Stillman

I'm always looking for new places to network and of course, share about the Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry collection. To that end, some time ago I was introduced to Molly Stillman, an active blogger and advocate of fair trade who among other things administrates an active Facebook group, Purchase with Purpose. As part of this group, I learned the depth of Molly's commitment to educating others about ethical and sustainable business. You can discover much more about Molly on her website. Me being me, I wanted to know even more. I asked Molly if I could interview her and she graciously said yes.

NANCY: Was there  a pivotal life experience that encouraged you to promote fair trade and ethically motivated business?

MOLLY: On my first trip to Kenya in July 2011, we toured the Kazuri Bead Factory in Nairobi. This was the first time I physically saw the impact that a fair trade company was having on its community. Kazuri really focuses on employing single moms and disadvantaged women and they are empowering them in so many amazing ways. I wanted to know more about companies that did this. This was the gateway for me to begin learning more about other ethical companies.

NANCY: I think I've been part of your Facebook group for at least a year.  It's quite active and there is a significant membership. How do you recruit such quality members?

MOLLY: I started by inviting a base of people I knew in the ethical community and then reached out to my own readers and community who I knew wanted to learn more.  Then I asked people to invite others they knew and trusted. It organically grew from there.

NANCY: I see many blogs about sustainable and ethical fashion. What really impresses me about you is the consistent output of podcasts you produce.  How did you get into that?

MOLLY: I actually have a background in radio and have been blogging for 11 years. I love the medium of "radio" and interviewing and had always wanted to start a podcast.  So, a little over two years ago, I sat down and just did it.  I reached out to about 20 entrepreneurs I knew or had contact with. And as it grew, I was able to connect with others. It's been such a joy for me and I love doing it.

NANCY: Assuming someone had never listened to your podcasts before, is there one or two you'd recommend or you're most proud of?

MOLLY: Oh man, this is such a hard question because I have loved interviewing so many different people.  My 100th episode was really fun because it was my husband and I talking about the previous 100 episodes. Liz Bohannon of  Sseko Designs our Episode 28 was a really good one. So was Zane Wilemon of Ubuntu Made. That one is Episode 17. 

NANCY: Can you share a story that makes you smile? I'm guessing with all of your involvement with sustainability, you must have one of two worth sharing. Or perhaps you were involved with a project recently where you feel you made a huge difference.

MOLLY: I've been working with a ministry through my church with a group of women in Thika, Kenya. We are in the process of training them to become an artisan group. These women are overcoming unthinkable odds. Their stories are theirs to tell, not mine. But, I will just say they have experienced so much hurt and pain and hardship. Over the past two years, I have seen them come so far. They were reluctant at first that they could "do it". They thought they'd never have the skills needed to support their families. Now I see them smile and take pride in their work. And they want to learn how to do even better and grow their skills. Seeing these women have hope is absolutely incredible and motivates me every day to keep doing what I'm doing.

NANCY: Do you have any tips for newbie bloggers? It's such a crowded marketplace online. Are there any pearls of wisdom you might share?

MOLLY: I always tell new bloggers or people just starting out to find their niche, find their why and focus on that. Blogging is not easy and you will burn out quickly if you try to do what everyone else is doing. Be yourself and focus on creating quality content that you are passionate about sharing.

NANCY: And finally this might be the most important question. (Asked with a smile.) It appears you're quite a burrito aficionado. Can you describe your fav? Or perhaps you have a recipe worth sharing?

MOLLY: I love this question! The best burrito I've ever had is at a place called Freebirds in Texas. But since I don't live in Texas, I eat at Chipolte regularly and I am not ashamed. I get brown rice, black beans, half chicken, half steak, lettuce, cheese, and mild and medium salsa. Oh, and don't forget the guacamole. (Mouth watering...)

---end of interview :)

Whether you work in fair trade or support it, you may benefit from being a member of Purchase with Purpose. I have Michele Adams of Village Country Store to thank for my intro to this Facebook group. If you're interested in joining in, let me know and I can submit your name for membership.
One final note. Molly has compiled a wonderful resource list of fair trade operations, ethical brands and Made in USA fashion companies. It's definitely worth checking out and sourcing from. And yes, Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry is noted in the accessories section. -ND

Monday, September 10, 2018

15 Fair Trade Fashion Companies You Want to Know

Recently, I've read lots and lots of posts written by ethical and sustainability bloggers. It's amazing how much I've learned about zero-waste and thrift shopping. I've been pinning and tweeting left & right. I've also discovered numerable lists circulating of recommended fashion companies offering ethical and sustainable designs. Of course I'm always looking to see if Dunitz & Comany's fair trade jewelry is listed. Dunitz & Company is a long time proud and verified member of Fair Trade Federation. I'm also well acquainted with several other Fair Trade Federation member companies that you all should know about. Here is my list of 15 fashion and jewelry companies, all Fair Trade Federation members, all offering well designed jewelry, accessories or clothing. Each has a website where you can make purchases direct. Each also actively wholesales to stores throughout US and Canada.

In alphabetical order 15 fabulous fair trade and ethical fashion resources:

1. Abrazo Style - Clothing and accessories handmade in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico. Abrazos is best known for their stunning hand-embroidered cotton blouses and dresses. (I'm embroidery crazy, and drool over there blouses.) They also offer hand woven scarves, totes and a small jewelry collection worth checking out.

2. Aid Through Trade - Seed bead jewelry ethically handmade in Nepal. Over 50 artisans create the roll-on bracelets many of you have come to own and love. Available in more colors than you can dream of.  (I also must mention that in the early 90s, Aid Through Trade and Dunitz & Company were among the very few businesses offering seed bead jewelry designs in the US marketplace. Yes, we're friendly competitors. We learned over time that many retailers sold designs from both companies.)

3. CAUSEGEAR - Offers a complete line of handbags, some leather, others made from canvas and handcrafted in India.  CAUSEGEAR not only produces fabulous products, they also aid both women and men with self-sustaining jobs which often assist these workers out of trafficking situations. Check out this company for the coolest guitar straps too.

4. Dunitz & Company - Offers some of the finest quality and fashion forward glass seed bead, embroidered & fused glass jewelry available today. Dunitz has been working with artisans in Guatemala since 1989 and their designs range from sophisticated to sassy and Victorian to ethnic. They also have a lovely fair trade Judaica kippot collection.

5. Global Mamas - Thinking of cool batik clothing? Then Global Mamas is your answer. They've been working with and supporting women in Ghana since 2003 and offer a host of clothing options for women, men and kids.

6. JOYN - Offers a full line of outstanding handbags and totes. Many with leather. Many vegan. Their creations often incorporate traditional weaving and block printing techniques. The men and women
that create this expansive line live and work in various regions of India.

7. Liz Alig - A fashion label producing ethical clothing from fabric to sewing. Liz Alig designs their very hip collection in the US using recycled, organic and handwoven fabrics.  They then partner with NGOs and fair trade organizations to produce the clothing in several countries in Central America and South Asia.

8. Maggie's Organics -  Founded in 1992 based upon the premise that clothing and accessories should be comfortable, durable and affordable, and should be produced in such a way that respects and protects our planet’s resources and the lives of those who make the products. (I've always been crazy for their fun assortment of socks.) Search their site to discover ponchos, leggings, clothing and options for children.

9. Malia Designs - This handbag company works with women in Cambodia with a social mission to fight human trafficking. They offer a really cool assortment of satchels created from recycled cement and feed bags.  You'll also discover a lovely collection of wallets and clutches made with traditional ikat fabrics when you search their site.


10. muichic -  A sustainable and organic tagua jewelry collection designed in Vermont and ethically handmade in Colombia. muichic's collection is colorful, lightweight and affordable. Tagua is often referred to as vegetable ivory because it has the feel and look of ivory. (My motto is save an elephant however and whenever you can.)

11. MZ - MZ's goal is to perpetuate the beautiful traditions of the Zapotec artisans of Oaxaca by connecting them to socially conscious consumers around the globe. And they've been quite successful doing just that. MZ's handwoven bags combine traditional indigenous designs with modern color palettes.

12. Passion Lilie - Designed in New Orleans and ethically produced in India. The Passion Lilie collection offers a wide selection of clothing choices for both women and men. Some of their clothing designs are created with traditional block printed fabrics while others use ikat handwovens.

13. Raven + Lily - I'm completely wowed by the wide assortment of sophisticated offerings of this ethical vendor. You'll find cool jewelry, handbags and clothing made by women artisans from too many countries around the globe to count. Just as all other providers on this list of 15, Raven + Lily's goal is to break the cycle of poverty through equitable trade.

14. Sevya - I've been acquainted with the women behind Sevya for many years and absolutely adore their scarves and tunics. Their fair trade accessories are made by artisan groups in India using centuries-old craft traditions including hand-loom, block-printing, tie-dye and embroidery. Sevya designs are crafted with natural fibers and eco-friendly dyes.

14. Victoria Road - This company collaborates with emerging women designers and skilled craftsmen in Lahore, Pakistan to create modern, sophisticated fashion for globally savvy women and children. The collection is really sharp and you can even snag some amazing deals in their Sample Sale section.

So there you have it! A list of 15 fabulous designers and ethical companies, all verified members of Fair Trade Federation. Perhaps you already knew some of us. Maybe you didn't. I'm thrilled to have  planted the seeds that will encourage you to check us all out a bit more. Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry is in such good company with all of these other vendors. -ND