Friday, February 16, 2018

Suffering from Compassion Fatigue? Buy Pretty.

Our business model has always been the same. Since 1990, Dunitz & Company has lived by and operated by the golden rule. We've always put fashion first. And our jewelry is always fair trade. These days, there seems to be a glut of vendors pulling at every one's heart strings. How can you tell when someone is good or just saying they do good in an effort to make a sale? Often business owners say their line is fair trade (even if they aren't Fair Trade Federation verified). Others spout that they donate a % of profits to this cause or another. My guess is some do. Some don't. The 'compassion marketing' noise is endless and the result is increasing 'compassion fatigue'.

I just returned from the NY Now gift show. While there I had a handful of conversations with retail store owners, buyers from museum shops and another wholesaler (now also retailing) who was once a booth neighbor at the now defunct Boston Gift Show. Surprisingly, I was not the one to initiate the conversation. These buyers were quite explicit that they were "done with" buying for goodwill. And evidently their customers are over it too. What I garnered from these conversations was, when spending money, customers want affordability and well-designed merchandise. They want "pretty". And only after that, do they want to know their purchases were produced under fair trade principles or that any given business owner was providing financial aid or making donations to this group or that organization. And I say bravo!

When I heard this from my customers, honestly, I felt a sigh of relief.  For years that is exactly how I saw our sales. Our customers bought Dunitz & Company jewelry because it was beautiful. Our ethics were verified with our Fair Trade Federation and Green America Business memberships.

Just today a client of ours who buys for a few locations said to me,"It is really hard to find fair trade things that sell and aren't too village crafty. We need items that are a good value and people can use every day.  Your jewelry is the perfect example.  It is on trend, cool and wearable." Yes, this warmed my heart big-time.

Are you a buyer or vendor reading this blog? What do you think about the topic of 'compassion fatigue' and how this applies to you and your life?  I'd love to hear from you.  In the meantime, I'm hoping there is a return to "pretty".  I'm certain Dunitz & Company sales will increase as buyers focus more on 'good looks and value'. And then and only after choosing our jewelry because it is "pretty", customers can feel even better knowing our jewelry is verified fair trade. -ND

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Real Beauty. Realistic Beauty.

I'm all about Real Beauty! And perhaps that is better said as Realistic Beauty. Dunitz & Company works diligently to create a fair trade jewelry line that is not only beautiful to look at, but will also allow women of all shapes and sizes to feel beautiful wearing it. Even better, our ethically sourced jewelry is good for heart & soul.

I suppose this is why for years I've adored Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign. Back in the early 2000's a research study they commission revealed that only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful. Over many years, their campaign using models of varying ages, shapes and skin tones created an environment where so many women felt better about themselves. And that includes me.

Today, CVS announced they will no longer use photo manipulation for their beauty products. And, they've also stated that if their suppliers, exampled by the such of Maybelline, L'Oreal and CoverGirl don't follow suit by 2020, CVS will mark their promotional materials with a symbol that allows customers to know they are 'digitally modified.' Now how cool is that? It's all about getting real. Of course the woman featured on the right here is gorgeous. She is gorgeous even when we see her pores. We might not look like her, but we can relate to her skin shown in the original photo.

I love that financial giants such as Dove and CVS are celebrating the reality that most of us share.  Last weekend I attended an opening for a stage show directed by a friend. The after party was attended by mostly young and what I considered quite attractive actors.  I met one lovely comedienne and told her I'd love to see her perform and that she was adorable. She loved the compliment. And she also quipped that she was no Scarlet Johansson and when she went out on auditions, she was always told she was "interesting" looking. Huh? This was one pretty girl. And she was insecure about her looks.  Did I say bravo to Dove and CVS for getting real?

As most of you reading know, I hire models, actors and musicians to pose for me wearing Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. You can see many of them in our wholesale and retail LookBooks. In fact, last week I finished shooting Alexx and Rachel decked out in Spring 2018 designs. I confess. I've had women arrive to shoots in the past with cold sores and major break-outs.  I've always cleaned up significant imperfections in Photoshop. I don't think anyone would ever accuse my shots of being so touched up that our models aren't real. (I'm afraid I don't have the skills to do that anyways.)  Dunitz & Company is about real and realistic.

Let's all celebrate Real Beauty. Realistic Beauty. With whatever small contribution we can make, Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry wants to help you feel and look your best. -ND

Monday, January 8, 2018

An (almost) All Black Golden Globes

Somehow the word got out that everyone should wear black in solidarity at the Golden Globes yesterday. This dress code was planned in support of #metoo and the denouncement of sexual harassment. Black is often the color worn to funerals.  It's also a fashion standard that tends to be flattering on just about everyone. With a few exceptions, just about everyone in attendance wore black clothing. And the fashion choices the actresses made were quite interesting.

Assuming the choice to wear black was a way to express disdain for sexual misconduct, one actress, Claire Foy stood out as the "best dressed" winner. She looked stunning in a well-tailored Stella McCartney suit. She appeared classy and strong. Exactly what I would expect from a request to wear black for an appropriate statement in support of the #TimesUp movement.

As at most awards shows, the actresses looked stunning. And in most cases, this years Golden Globes was no exception. By getting the word out to wear black, the actresses and their stylists made a mission of finding the sexiest black dresses ever.  Seriously? Does wearing a lacy number cut to the navel speak to our disdain for men taking advantage of women in inappropriate ways? Some actresses including Halle Barry, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kate Hudson looked to be wearing extravagant nighties. Others wore gowns with slits open to their privates. It just seemed to me that most actresses missed the point of wearing black.

Forbes reported that celebrities wore over $20 million worth of gems and watches at the Golden Globes.  I'm thinking it must have been more than that. Yes, many actresses donned some very large emerald jewels. And there were gobs of diamonds on the red carpet too. If you chose to wear black, to fit in and not rock the boat...yes, glam up with some big glitzy rocks! (I sort of like that Blanca Blanco and Barbara Meier danced to their own drummer. No hypocrisy there.)

I don't think I am alone in feeling the choice for Golden Globe attendees to wear black (and loads of precious gems) was a miss.  Well, perhaps it is a win because today...just about everyone is talking about it.  This morning on my Facebook feed, I saw hundreds of real world people piping in. My friend's posts about this topic are tailed with comments. Los Angeles Times and New York Times posts are also followed with a string of responses.

One thing is for certain. As much as so many commented on the success or fail of the sea of black gowns, Oprah Winfrey was a fan favorite.  Even in her sexy velvet number. Her speech after being honored with the Cecil B. Demille award was an inspiration and spoke to the #metoo movement with poise and perfection. If you didn't hear it or see a transcript, read it here.

So, what do you think about Oprah running for POTUS on the next go-around?  And how did you feel about the (almost) All Black 2018 Golden Globe Awards? -ND

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Black & White, A Fashion Classic

Yin and Yang. Up and Down. Right and Left. East and West. One never exists without the other. Black & White. A Fashion Classic. And for a jewelry designer (I'm talking about me,) who is typically 'all about color', for Dunitz & Company's Spring 2018 collection, I'm most excited about this classic.  What ever has gotten into me?

When studying all the runway shows in preparation for designing for Spring 2018, I was glued to all of the Black & White.  Was there more than usual? Or was I just honing in on it.  The best of the best, all are offering spectacular clothing in black & white.  Seen here are super outfits from Carolina Herrera, Jill Stuart and Nicole Miller. And Miller always works in bright colors. What's up?

Yes, you'll see lots of color this season from Dunitz & Company. But guess what? I'm so stoked about our Black & White fair trade jewelry this season.  The photo to the right is a teaser of what's coming from our Joanie M fused glass collection.  The black is strong. And it's coupled with metallic silver. It really shouts that classic story of.... black & white. Our fused glass pieces will be deliciously handsome coupled with what so many folks call their safety net, black.

And for our bead-work, I paired jet black with crystal and silver.  It definitely feels black & white and will adorn any black...or white....or black & white clothing perfectly. By using crystal and silver, the pieces won't feel so harsh. Dunitz & Company's beaded designs will boast a contemporary essence. Hey, modern museum shop buyers! We're a must for Spring 2018. Hint. Hint.

As Karl Lagerfeld once said, "black and white always looks modern, whatever that word means. Whether it's a white dress with black accessories, or a white  blouse paired with this season's must-have noir trouser or graphic stripes, it's hard to mess up this timeless color combination." 

I think it's the perfect time to dress you and your customers up with our black & white fair trade pretties. Black & White. A Fashion Classic. - ND

Monday, December 18, 2017

More About Pantone's Ultra-Violet

There are so many influencers of fashion design and the colors used in fashion. I've always thought the most well known "international" designers (think Calvin Klein, DKNY, Stella McCartney etc.) cast the greatest directions. I've been told these designers are working two years ahead in many cases. Dunitz & Company starts working on new fair trade collections about six months ahead of their fair trade jewelry release. And then there is Pantone making their announcements of color long after the rest of us have done our work.

I've been at the design game for a long time. Often, I dream of color combinations. Most often I am inspired by the ready-to-wear runway shows. I watch them avidly for inspiration. I also have noticed over the years that color trends gradually evolve and disappear. For instance, shades of grey have dominated for as much as three years. In recent years all shades and tints of jade seem to persist. This has allowed Dunitz & Company the opportunity to repeat successful color combinations. Shades of grey or silver with jade and seafoam ....just isn't going anywhere. And then there is PURPLE!

With our fair trade jewelry collection, I tend to always offer twelve colors. With our lower-end jewelry, our gift shop customers are more successful when they can offer their clients a potpourri of colors. For the upcoming Spring 2018, our plans were no different. New to my color range for Spring and one I'm most excited about is Black/Silver/Crystal. There seemed a plethora of black & white on the New York runways. And after I finished my colors this season, I thought something is missing. Guess what that was? Yes. Purple. To round out our fused glass and beaded collections we added some amethyst and plum. And in a few cases combined with lime or grass green.

Flash forward. December 2017 and after all of those "international designers" I mentioned earlier have launched their Spring 2018 designs, Pantone crowns ULTRA-VIOLET color of the year for 2018. Seriously? Leatrice Eiseman is viewed as the goddess of color. And clearly, everyone is scrambling. Harper's Bazaar immediately wrote that many designers including Tom Ford and Michael Kors were showing more flattering shades of amethyst for Spring 2018!

So why did Pantone choose ULTRA-VIOLET as their color? Eiseman is quoted here, "We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level."  Pantone's website suggests Ultra Violet is focused on the mysteries of the cosmos,  the intrigue of what lies ahead and discoveries beyond.  Enigmatic purples have also been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality and artistic brilliance. Seriously, who is Pantone hiring to write this stuff? I'm afraid to say that purple is also the color of kings or those that think they are king.

Pantone has joined the Facebook advertising craze and is actively sponsoring posts about their 2018 color choice. And Facebook strollers are eating up the announcements. ("I better paint my walls purple now." "I bought a dark purple shirt last week. I'm way ahead." and the comments go on and on and on.)  You better believe Pantone is successful in creating trends. I'm sure many an "international designer" is masterminding how they can cut some last minute garments for retailer racks.

Bloggers and top magazines and publishers are grabbing at straws. Nylon and New York Times and every other magazine last week launched articles with found photos of perfect purple clothing and accessories for your 2018 wardrobes. I'll almost guarantee that their next printed editions will offer the same.

Even the stylists on NBC's Today Show were in on the act this morning. Both Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were decked out in 'Ultra-Violet' clothing. I tuned in late. I have no idea if they featured a story today on this recently crowned shade.

I'd like to say that I was on the pulse in advance of the Pantone announcement. The truth is, as mentioned above, I added 'shades of purple' to our 2018 Spring collection, because it was needed to round out our offerings. Honestly, I would have never guessed "Ultra Violet" (AKA dark Purple) would be bestowed such an honor. But heck, Dunitz & Company is ready for you. Our fair trade fused glass will shine this season with our color 88 (a repeat of amethyst and violet) and our new color 117. This luscious combo marries plum with lime.

Our newest bead-work color 354 joins amethyst and violet with various shades of spring green. We think you'll love it. It's bright and perky and makes one think of new growth and flowers. One might suggest that this combination is the perfect coupling of Pantone's 2017 color "Greenery" with their 2018 queen, "Ultra-Violet".

Dare I say sometimes these projections don't equal sales or popularity. Somehow, 2016's Rose Quartz was a big bust. In the meantime, if you want to fit in, you might look to Allure magazine's suggestion. After the Pantone announcement, they offered new hair coloring as a way to blend in!

What are your thoughts on this topic? -ND

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Chat with Rachel Spence of Fair Trade Federation

I thought it would be fun to know a little bit more about Rachel Spence, the Engagement Manager at Fair Trade Federation. I asked her if I could interview her for this blog. She graciously said yes, and today, she was my victim ;). My goal was to learn a bit more about her and find out what had motivated her to work in 'fair-trade'.

LinkedIn seemed a good place to start when prepping for my chat with Rachel. I loved learning that she had studied for her Masters Degree in International Affairs at George Washington University and worked at the DC - UN offices during those years. (I softened her up by mentioning that my nephew had also studied at GW and loved it.) I wondered if there was a life experience that attracted her to this course of study. Rachel mentioned that growing up in Delaware had a great deal to do with that choice.  She stated that many international headquarters are based in Delaware and as a kid she was ever-cognizant of their presence. That, family vacations abroad (she specifically mentioned loving Mexico) and  frequent trips to a Ten Thousand Villages store kindled her interests in world affairs.

One of Rachel's first gigs was working at United States Council for International Business, a trade association that assists larger corporations with issues concerning gender equality and labor rights. She spoke enthusiastically about this experience.  I also garnered she had a light bulb moment while working at USCIB. Rachel recognized that she wanted to work with small businesses where she felt she would have a greater impact for change. A volunteer opportunity at RUNA, a producer of fair trade tea and energy drinks put her boots on the ground in Ecuador where she helped them through the fair trade certification process.

Rachel joined the staff of Fair Trade Federation during the summer of 2016. And that is when I met her.  She along with other FTF staffers visited NY Now, (a wholesale trade show) to meet and greet with those FTF members exhibiting at the show. That might have been one of her first activities working at FTF. And I learned in our conversation that such activities are some of her favorites. Rachel told me she feeds off meeting members in person at trade shows and gatherings such as the annual Fair Trade Federation conference. Mingling with FTF members (nearly 250 companies now) amplifies her voice and enthusiasm. She's all about educating the public about fair trade and creating visibility for FTF and its members. [Photo to the right was taken at NY Now. I'm on the far left. Rachel is on the far right.]

Now the fun stuff! I asked Rachel to tell me about her favorite fair trade items she uses in her every day life. Right off the bat she mentioned that she's all about jewelry and clothing. You know I wasn't going to have any of that. I insisted on specifics! Phew!  Maybe it's lip service. Rachel mentioned she adores the two pair of Dunitz & Company Joanie M fused glass earrings she owns. (Note, she's wearing a pair in the first photo posted above.) She also described a beige and brown handbag she carries each and every day that comes from Manos Zapotecas, another Fair Trade Federation member.  It was clear she owns many fair trade adornments and it was not a simple task to select a favorite.

The thing is Rachel wants everyone to enjoy fair trade pretties as much as she does. And as Engagement Manager for FTF, she's continually finding new ways to communicate to the world about just how great fair trade items can be.  Just yesterday she was an integral part of a "Twitter" conversation focused on holiday shopping.  If you were on twitter yesterday, and you didn't know about the Fair Trade Federation Holiday Guide, you may very well know about it now. There are oodles of fashion, food and home decor items featured. Luscious items.  Haven't finished your shopping? Check it out. Dunitz & Company's fused glass cuffs can't be missed!

It was at this point we digressed a bit. Rachel shared with me her love for her 2 year old, possibly Labrador/MinPin X rescue dog, Ivy.  And then of course, I had to brag about my two Doberman rescues, Stetson and Ida.  Dogs? Don't get me started. But, at this point, I think both Rachel and I were operating on fumes. I mean, this can be tough for both interviewers and interviewees!

In closing, I asked Rachel what was the one thing she'd like people to know about fair trade. Guess what? That wasn't a simple question either. She left me with three thoughts.
  1.  Many companies working in fair trade spend a lot of energy focused on the well-being of our environment.  Yes, fair traders take care of people. She also wants everyone to know that when talking about fair trade, the environmentally friendly aspect of fair trade often is overlooked.
  2. She recognizes that people who support fair trade (with their pocketbooks) are most often interested in the stories of aid and support. But, just as important is the high quality and good design now available from fair trade producers.
  3. And finally, she mentioned it is easier to "shop fair trade" than ever before. This is the case because you can easily purchase great products on line and there are more and more (brick & mortar) shops and producers offering fair trade items. It's not always about coffee!  
Thank you Rachel for spending your morning (on the phone) with me. I really enjoyed our chat. Want to learn more about Fair Trade Federation, fair trade and FTF members?  Please check out the FTF site. There you'll be able to easily browse and learn so much more. -ND

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Favorite Instagram Feeds

I look at a lot of photos each and every day on Instagram. Between my @ndunitz feed and @shopdunitz feed, I breeze through nearly 2400 accounts of images. Yes, that is a load of images! I follow the retail shops that sell Dunitz fair trade jewelry. I watch sustainable and ethical bloggers. I track all sorts of fashionistas. I follow back - those that watch me. And at the end of the day, there are a few feeds that have become my favorites. Here are a few you might enjoy watching too. Note, none of these Instagramers have paid me for this mention.

Many of you know, I learned so much about fashion from my mother. She was my first teacher of fashion. As a kid, I watched her dress up for all sorts of social events that ranged from charity luncheons to gala dinner parties. She was a clothes horse and she looked good in everything. And she knew her designers.  I think this is why I've become so intrigued with Rachel Adelicia's Instagram feed. This girl rocks style. And it warms my heart to see her wear amazing vintage design.  I drool over the clothing she shows off.  I'm almost sure she has great relationships with some upscale resale shops. Women wearing beautiful clothing on IG are a dime a dozen. Rachel not only looks terrific in so many styles, she styles her shots very very well.  Seriously, she could be a magazine editor. She has a great eye. I sent her a message through IG recently asking her about her inspiration.  She responded to me that she loves looking at fashion advertisements in magazines and recreating the looks with vintage. Bravo, Rachel. Read her blog to learn more beyond the photos she shares on Instagram.

I love to eat. OK, most of us do! And I love to look at beautiful food. For this very reason, I watch a few foodie feeds on Instagram.  My favorite eye candy comes from Ivy Chin, who describes herself as a self taught and passionate cook. She uses edible flowers. Her works are full of amazing colors. And her combination of colors has inspired my jewelry design. You just NEVER know what will be the catalyst for design. I can't tell you how many times I've commented on Ivy's photos with "too pretty to eat."  Check out her feed and let me know if you agree.

Weaving tales in color seems to be a specialty of Emma Thomas. She's going through a pink phase right now. If you scroll through her feed you'll see lots of luscious and foggy colors. I loved her recent posts of hunter green images. She features yummy vintage time and time again.  And the filters she chooses create such a wonderful moody feel. I drool over many of her choices. And I know I'll never find or be able to afford many of the breathtaking designs she features.  So for now, I live vicariously through her feed. Love it, Emma!

Last year a friend of mine suggested I reach out to fashion bloggers on Instagram to see if I could obtain some visibility for Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry. I wrote to several women. Many ignored me. Several looked at our website and emailed specifically which pieces of ours they'd love to own and model. Others left it up to us. Rie Victoria Aoki was one of the women I contacted. At the time, she posted several photos on Instagram and on her blog wearing Dunitz jewelry. Since that time, her's has become one of my favorite feeds to watch on Instagram. And clearly, I'm not alone. Her followers have been growing exponentially. Why? Because this is one woman who has it going on. She's stunning. She has style. And, from experience, I can tell you she is lovely too. Add her to your IG list! She will inspire your style.

Please share with me your favorite Instagram feeds. I'd love to watch what you find most inspiring. And of course don't forget to follow ours.-ND