Friday, February 15, 2019

New York Fashion Week - Black Black Black

Once again, like clockwork, New York Fashion Week is behind us. And if you're anything like me, your eyes were glued to all of the Fall 2019 runway shows of all the top and best-known designers. What did I see? Lots and lots of black clothing.  

Seriously? I was hoping to find some vibrant clothing that might inspire new color combinations for Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collections. I discovered a bit. But what I mostly saw was a sea of black and grey from all the names you know, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Cynthia Rowley and more.

The silver lining? If women are strutting their stuff in monochromatic black (next winter), I can offer all kinds of colorful baubles. What better backdrop for shades of purple, jade and burgundy is black?  One of my best strategies for coming up with fabulous color combinations is to hone in on what were our best sellers in the past.

Ya know what? I'm a bit guilty when coordinating my own wardrobe. I wear a lot of black. And certainly these top designers recognize that most women do. They know it sells.  'All black' is an easy "uniform" for many of us. How often have you seen me at a trade show not in black?

So, get it on. Doll up in all of your black clothing for Fall 2019. You'll be right on trend. And you'll be able to adorn yourself with just about any color of gem or bauble that steals your heart. Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry, always designed with rich colors will be your perfect add on. -ND

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fair Trade at Work: Global Gifts' Alissa Head

When you work in "Fair Trade" as long as I have, you meet so many people making a difference. Big differences. And more often than not, many of these do-gooders don't get the recognition they deserve. We don't always know who they are. We don't always understand exactly what they do. One person that has impressed me with her professionalism and dedication is Alissa Head. Alissa's the Executive Director of Global Gifts, a group of fair trade stores based in Indianapolis, IN.  I asked Alissa if I could interview her for my blog. She graciously accepted. Here's what she had to share with me.

NANCY:  You've been part of Global Gifts for several years.  I'm just curious. Did you move to the Midwest to work for Global Gifts? Or were you fortunate to find this perfect fit while already living in Ohio?

ALISSA:  I was already living in Columbus, OH when the opportunity to join Global Gifts came about. I had just stepped out of my role as Vice President of Operations at a local, print on demand, direct to consumer e-commerce t-shirt company that had grown by 500% during my tenure of 4 years. (from $500K to $12M in sales annually.) As graphic tees phased out of fashion, I was asked to downsize our production. I did so, but I put myself at the top of the list of people to lay off and left the company at the end of the reorganization. One week later a friend told me about Global Gifts opening a store in Columbus, and there was a position open for Store Manager. I was eager to get back into the non-profit world and applied. (Alissa explained she had previous experience in non-profit trade association work.) 

NANCY: Was there a pivotal life experience that encouraged you to work in 'fair trade'? 

Alissa's Hat Design
ALISSA:  I have been very active in our local handmade community for many years as a knitting pattern and knitwear designer, which led me to my previous job. Handmade is the root of my passion for fair trade, but justice and integrity are what drive me. Treating people fairly, in all aspects of work, both domestically and globally, as well as environmental sustainability are two tenets I hold very dear. There was a moment during my previous employment, during rapid growth, when we visited one of our t-shirt distribution centers. The warehouse was one square mile, chockablock floor to ceiling, full of boxes of blank shirts. I was stunned by the magnitude of it and I thought to myself, “There is no way this is sustainable.” That moment, plus the reorganization of the company, were two experiences that made me realize I would never be comfortable working towards increasing a bottom line at the expense of the environment and people’s welfare. I had heard of fair trade chocolate and coffee, but was unaware of the handmade movement. When I had the opportunity to work for Global Gifts, I jumped in eagerly!

NANCY:  Describe some of the important projects you are working on in the shop(s)?

ALISSA:  Right now my focus is on streamlining operations for our four stores, including better systems for Human Resources, as well as upgrading our technology in stores to improve our efficiency and customer relations. Additionally, along with our Marketing Manager, Jennifer Moncel, I am working to increase our brand awareness and improve our website to make it more cohesive with our brick and mortar experience.

NANCY:  And do you have a favorite project or activity you're involved with at Global Gifts?

ALISSA:  Before I was promoted to Executive Director I was Purchasing Manager, while also Store Manager in Columbus. Looking at all the lovely new designs and deciding what to bring into the stores is still one of my favorite things. Although I am no longer in charge of purchasing, I still enjoy our process, now led by Dave Debikey, our Bloomington Store Manager.

NANCY: When did Global Gifts become part of Fair Trade Federation?  Do you have any thoughts about this partnership? 

ALISSA:  I joined Global Gifts in late February 2014, and one of my earliest experiences was attending the Fair Trade Federation Conference that year in Indianapolis, co-hosted by Global Gifts. I learned so much there and am so grateful for the FTF Community. We rely on Fair Trade Federation verification when considering new products, vendors, and artisan groups. The assurance Fair Trade Federation membership gives us in transparency and accountability, and the ability to share that with our customers, is key to our mission in supporting at risk and marginalized artisans.

NANCY: Can you share a story that makes you smile? A story where you and/or Global Gifts were integral in making a positive change?

ALISSA:  This year we have completed all of our requirements to make Columbus, OH an official Fair Trade Town through Fair Trade Campaigns. The only step left is to have a resolution passed by the Mayor. This has been a personal project of mine since 2015, and I am gratified to see its completion. We have a great fair trade community in Columbus, and last year we started making regular appearances vending at local events, as well as hosting our own "World Fair Trade Day Sip and Shop". This result is due to the accumulated efforts of not only myself, but many unpaid interns and community members. I hope to be able to pass the torch this year to take Fair Trade Columbus to the next level, spreading the word and work of fair trade.

NANCY: You must be proud of your website. It's really easy to navigate.  Where else can people learn more about Global Gifts?

ALISSA: In addition to our website, each of our stores has its own social media accounts on facebook, Instagram, and twitter. Following these accounts gives a wonderful insight into each store’s location, culture, and community, led by the store managers. It’s a lot of fun to see what they do with their posts and how it takes us further along the path of sharing fair trade at the local level.

NANCY: Of course, I'm thrilled that Global Gifts is selling Dunitz & Company's fused glass jewelry. You know I had to ask.  Do you have a favorite design you like pointing out to customers? Or something you personally enjoy wearing?

ALISSA:  I personally love the skinny leather and fused glass bracelet in my favorite hues of blue. 

NANCY: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

ALISSA:  I feel so fortunate to be Executive Director of this organization, working for fair trade along with our wonderful team at Global Gifts.  Although I feel that I bring a lot of experience to this position, I also still have so much to learn, and I am looking forward to the continued journey.

---end of interview :)

Post Interview: I asked Alissa to tell me more about her artistic side. I wanted to know just a little more about her and what drives her in addition to her work at Global Gifts. She told me about her formal visual arts training and shared with me some images of her recent art work. With her permission, I'm sharing a few here.

Alissa spends a lot of time creating fiber art. Check out the photo to the right. Named "Meditations on Wholeness," Alissa knit this piece with stainless steel and silk thread. How cool is that?

Alissa's wool fiber paintings were part of a group exhibit hosted last year at Global Gallery, a fair trade coffee shop located in Columbus. Her paintings are inspired by photographs she took at Blendon Woods, one of the metro parks in her area.  Spot on.

Thank you for allowing me to pummel you with questions, Alissa. It always amazes me how much more I can learn from all those around me working in and supporting fair trade. I'm so impressed by you and the work you do at Global Gifts. And now I know what a talented artist you are as well.

Reading this? If you're in Indianapolis, Bloomington or Columbus, get on over to a Global Gifts store. These shops offer a wide selection of wonderful fair trade goodies. And, yes, lots of Dunitz & Company fused glass jewelry. -ND

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Say It With Fair Trade Hearts

What is love without hearts? As Valentine's Day is approaching, I thought it would be fun to discover fair trade gifts, shaped like hearts that are offered by Dunitz & Company and our Fair Trade Federation colleagues. Check out my eleven fun and affordable discoveries.

1. Soapstone Heart Box - Handmade in Kenya and offered by Fair Trade Winds. Traditional love-red, adorable and seriously affordable. $20.00

2. Felted Monkey with Heart in Hands - How could you pass up on this adorable little monkey handing out his heart? This adorable gift, made in Guatemala is offered by Mayan Hands. $10.00


3. Pink Crystal Heart Earrings - Yes, these cuties come from Dunitz & Company and are made with Czech glass beads in Guatemala.  Regularly $12.00. At the time of writing this, they're on sale for $9.60

4. Bicycle Chain Heart Hook - Perfect for your guy-pal. This rugged heart shaped offering comes from the Global Gifts website and is made by Mira Fair Trade. Both Fair Trade Federation members. $9.99

5.Hammered Heart Bracelets - Eternal Threads is selling these good-looking bracelets. You can't lose. They were $25.00 and now their 50% off. And the purchase of these helps to support orphans and other vulnerable children in Swaziland. Now $12.50

6. Beaded Heart Earrings - If you visit the Dunitz & Company website you'll discover these beautifully crafted earrings in several colors. Prefer pink? You'll find them. They're made by artisans in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. $24.00

7. Heart Note Card - Say it with the written word. These beautiful handmade in Vietnam cards are offered by Fair Trade Winds and are designed by Quilling Card. Again both Fair Trade Federation members. $9.95

8. Heart Horn Earrings - Isn't it always fun to wear a little bit of turquoise with your horn? Your honey is sure to love these earrings from Wanderlust Jewelry. They're made by artisans in Peru. $9.00

9. Heart Mango Wood Pivot Box - Inspired by traditional Indian spice boxes, these hearts are sure to please. Offered by Zee Bee Market and designed by Matr Boomie, both Fair Trade Federation members. $28.00

10. Heart Treasure Bell Charm - And charming it is! What could be a prettier way to add some soft sounds to your environment? Available on the Global Gifts website. Designed by Matr Boomie. $35.00

11. Hearts with Hearts Stones - Bright, fun and they say "Love". These small hearts are carved of Kisii Stone in Kenya and are offered by One World Fair Trade. Only $5.00

So there you have it. It amazes me that so many people think fair trade gifts are expensive. After checking out this list, I'm sure you'll agree that not only are these offerings from Fair Trade Federation members fabulously adorable, they're seriously affordable. We hope you'll support Dunitz & Company and our fair trade colleagues this Valentine's Day and all year long. Your purchase definitely make a difference for people and planet. I can vouch for my fair trade colleagues. We all care deeply about the people we work with. -ND

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Yellow - Be Brave My Fashionistas

Oooo. Yellow for fashion has always scared me a bit. And as we embark on our looks for 2019, Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry is offering some sunny and brave alternatives. Heck, Glamour Magazine has boldly stated that "Yellow is the Biggest Color Trend for Spring."

Seriously! If Carolina Herrera, Max Mara and Marc Jacobs can offer yellow- so can we. This list goes on and on. Lanvin. Bottega Veneta. Balenciaga. Brandon Maxwell. Lela Rose. Etro. Monse. Kate Spade New York. Oscar de la Renta. Should I keep typing? Even after reading this long list of top designers banking on yellow, you may reconsider your wearables for the soon to be warmer weather.

Is the concept of yellow jiving with you yet? Marie Claire magazine also confirms that "yellow" is on the money.  Their recent trend article offered up some images of more subtle yellow shades, even if they were coined 'egg-yolk yellow'. Can I say this confused me a bit? These designs featured by Marie Claire (Jonathan Simkhai. Tibi. Escada. Rodarte.) reveal lovely softer yellows, definitely not egg-yolk. (I think these outfits are definitely an easier wear for the not-so-brave.)

Pantone, as you may know, made a huge study of all the runway fashion shows before announcing their colors for Spring 2019. Their "Aspen Gold" sure sounds sexier than Egg Yolk. The shade - very similar. The feeling? Bold. Warm. Sunny. Happy. So, I say, be brave, bring on the yellow. Even a paler yellow.  (Did you know I painted my house yellow? Random non-sequitur, I know. It definitely is a "happy" color.)

My guess is most of you don't have much vibrant yellow clothing in your closet. You might not choose to invest big dollars in an outfit you might rarely wear. You may not have the time to scour thrift shops for the perfect yellow trousers, raincoat or sweater.  And frankly, you just may not be brave enough to publicly wear such a bold shade. (A few years ago, I went out and bought a pair of loud pink corduroys because they were supposedly right on-trend. Do you know how many times I wore them? Once!) I understand all of it. There is a solution! Accessories! Bring them on.

So, this is definitely where Dunitz & Company with our fair trade jewelry makes the pitch.  One does not need to be brave to don a bold yellow necklace or pair of earrings. Our bright accents will add pizazz to any outfit and scream 'on-trend'. Be that gal. Go for it! Dunitz & Company's Joanie M fused glass collection is offering a wonderfully sunny combination for Spring 2019. (Check out the square pendant necklace pictured here.) Have a retail store? Log into our wholesale website to see all of the fused glass jewelry possibilities. We'll surely help your fashionista clients with yellow accents.

So you're style is a bit more Boho versus Classic? Dunitz & Company has you covered. We've been working with artisans in Guatemala that create the most spectacular beadwork since the early 1990s. And twice a year we create new color combinations that mesh with the clothing you'll find on store racks. We definitely did not miss out on 'yellow' for Spring 2019. A new seed bead combination we're crazy for combines golden-yellow with a softer celery green.  We think you'll love it.  It's a bit tamer than our Joanie M fused glass yellow.  Necklaces, Bracelets, Earrings. Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry will spice up your warmer weather ensembles.

Glamour, Marie Claire and Pantone have declared "Yellow" as one of the biggest color trends for the upcoming season. Don't miss out on the fun. Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry offers so many yellow accents at affordable prices. If it's not our design, wear something from another designer. Forget about corduroys. (Note to Nancy) I say dazzle 'em with a new sunny pair of fair trade earrings! -ND

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Is Dunitz Jewelry in Sync with Pantone?

Every year I create new color combinations for Dunitz fair trade jewelry well in advance of trade shows, shipping retailers and Pantone announcements about what colors will be the hottest. Once Pantone announces their palette everyone scrambles to see if their offerings are in sync with their projections. I'm certain Pantone color experts carefully watch the biggest runway shows, as most of us designers do, and from these, they make there selections. But somehow, once Pantone publishes their trend report we all squirm to show how we're on the pulse, their pulse. Trade magazines and consumer magazines all begin reporting on merchandise that is colored matched to Pantone's announcement. So how did Dunitz & Company stack up this season?

Living Coral. Yes, that's the big one! Pantone announced Living Coral, a pale orange - or a dark melon depending on how you see it for 2019's Color of the Year. I've always found that darker orange in jewelry are a tough sell. There are those that love it. The masses do not.  But, I agree with Pantone. There's something quite appealing about this color. And guess what? For our Joanie M fair trade fused glass, we're right on the money. My Color #130 is exactly as Pantone projects.

More often than not, with our fair trade jewelry, I mix a few colors to make our whole.  Living Coral with Sweet Lilac pink with a little extra for fun? Color #363 for beadwork tells that story. Don't you agree? Do you think our millennial customers will go for it? The stereotype is pink IS for millennials.

Darker Pink? Pantone "Pink Peacock " we've got you covered. We affectionately call this shade of pink, orchid.  And yes, I recognize orchids grow in all shades and colors. Combined with metallic silver this pairing makes for a strong and fun summer offering. When I was first working on this color combo, I had added a third color, a soft baby pink. Ya know what? That just wasn't as appealing.

 Yellow always scares me for jewelry. But somehow, I just knew that 2019 was the time to bring out some sunshine! Straight up. Yes. Our fused glass "Color #133" combines what Pantone calls Aspen Gold and Mango Mojito. Score. (I'm sure years ago I selected a Dunn Edwards paint designated Aspen Gold for my home. It's such a happy color.)

Pepper Stem. That's Pantone's lighter green choice for Spring 2019.  Not quite lime. Not quite army. Mixed with a pale golden-yellow (Aspen Gold?) makes for fun summer jewelry.

Blue. Princess Blue. Pantone's selection for blue this season reminds me of a Mediterranean Sea. And I'm all about that! And our customers also have always been about that. Frankly, it doesn't matter what the year is. This color is ALWAYS popular. I know you've heard me say this before. Blue sells. Any shade of blue.  But for now, let's get back to Pantone's Princess Blue. I love this deep shade and I've used similar in several fused glass color combos for Spring 2019.

Personally I adore wearing neutral colors. And Pantone's "Toffee" brown is just that. The thing though, is in Spring and Summer, we find our customer often prefer wearing jewelry adornments with a bit of color. Toffee, sure? How about with a bit of sea-foam and mint? I sometimes joke that it's a formula. Almost any shade of brown with almost any shade of blue wins.

So, how'd did Dunitz & Company fair with their fair trade jewelry colors this season? I'd say we did pretty darn well. You won't find every color Pantone announced for their 2019 lineup. Yes we're missing 'red'. That's a tough one for us. You however can be sure we'll be offering other shades of blue, purple and jade - all colors we know our customers love.  - ND

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Golden Globes & Necklaces Are Back!

I love necklaces. I love designing them for Dunitz & Company, and even better, I love selling them. Unfortunately the last few years our fair trade necklace sales have waned. Guess what? That's about to change.

Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? I did. And I was thrilled to see many of the actresses sporting some large and flashy necklaces.  Of course they were all wearing over the top diamonds loaned from shops I'm afraid to enter. Just the same, for the last few seasons these starlets were more about earrings than necklaces.Were the girls wearing earrings? Sure, fabulous ones. But, many also brought out the necklaces. Lady Gaga topped the chart with a Tiffany & Co. necklace loaded with 100 carats and supposedly worth $5 million. (How many guards were protecting that?)

 Of course, I can't post photos of all the actresses showing off glitzy necklaces from last night. But a few more here prove my point. Michelle Yeoh (De Beers Necklace), Taraji P Henson (Roberto Coin Necklace) and Elisabeth Moss (Neil Lane) all chose to wear some "important" neck dangles.

Here's the thing. When celebrities start making fashion statements, in this case wearing necklaces, "the look" will trickle down. Yeah! This means necklaces are back in vogue. And it also means I can pitch one of my favorite styles knowing it's right on trend (again)! You know it ladies. Dunitz & Company's 'Coral Necklace' made of seed beads is the perfect and affordable adornment that you can dress up or dress down! And of course, we can easily pair them with some fabulous earrings and bracelets.

If you're familiar with Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry, you know we offer 12 on-trend colors in many designs each season. I'm prepared for Spring 2019. These samples shown here - are here just to tease you. Come on. You KNOW you want one. Happy New Year. -ND

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holiday Card Greetings, Always with Dogs

It dawned on me that the holidays crept up on me and I hadn't designed a new holiday card. What's a girl to do? Who would remember my terrific card from last year?  I decided to give my two doberman mascots new necklaces. Dunitz & Company fair trade necklaces, of course.  I also thought it would be fun to go through my computer and find my images from past years. In earlier times, we printed our greetings on paper and mailed them. In recent times, my masterpieces have been shared by email and social media. Here's my stroll down memory lane. I think this may be the first time I'm posting pics in "medium" size on my blog. It's either so you can see them easily without double clicking or to let you know just how much I love my dogs!

2007. Byron and the Snowman. Yes, he is wearing Dunitz & Company necklaces in appropriate colors

2008. Our mascot, Byron thinking about one of his favorite things. Yup. We made him wear reindeer antlers again.

2009. Byron was greeted by Santa that winter season.

2010. Byron was a bit more reserved with a Dunitz & Company bracelet featured as a collar.

2011. Return of the Antlers. And Byron was not too pleased.  I'm afraid at this point in the job, he had gotten quite old. I think the greeting reflected that.

2012. Stetson took over with a Chanukah Greeting.

2012. Simple, but our warm wishes are always the same.

2016. Don't ask. I haven't a clue what happened to 2013, 2014 or 2015 greetings. I can't seem to locate them.  By 2016, Ida had joined our crew.  Along with Stetson, they decided to don some Dunitz & Company fair trade kippot. Silly? Yes. Fun? Definitely.

2016. For Christmas, the mascots proudly wore Dunitz & Company necklaces. Me? I put on a Santa's helper outfit. Shall I saw I borrowed the outfit and body. Ah, the magic of Photoshop.

Seems 2017 was an oversight as well. Can't find a card in my files. Certainly our best wishes were in tow. They always are. Hey, go back to the top of this blog. And there you'll find our updated 2018 group shot. An updated version from 2016. But, heck, the dogs got new necklaces.  Happy Holidays and Best Wishes from Dunitz & Company for a healthy, happy, prosperous and fun New Year. See you in 2019! -ND