Friday, August 2, 2019

Fair World Project's Anna Canning Speaks

Anna Canning
Keeping Fair Trade Real. That's the motto of Fair World Project, a group advocating fair trade for small-scale producers and labor justice for workers around the world. As owner (and designer) of fair trade jewelry producer, Dunitz & Company, I'm always curious to see what others are doing around the globe. I've been blown away by the impact Fair World Project has made. And this lead me to a conversation with Anna Canning. Anna is the Campaigns Manager for FWP. I was certain that many of you would want to know more about FWP's impact and Anna agreed to be interviewed. Keep reading to hear what she had to say.

NANCY: I'm only recently acquainted with Fair World Project. Unlike Fair Trade Federation and WFTO that are membership organizations, yours focuses on advocacy. Can you tell me about that?

ANNA: That's a good distinction! We do a lot of work both with fair traders and with others working for fair trade, worker justice, and human rights around the globe, mostly within the food and farming (sector). Buying fair trade products and supporting companies that are committed to fair trade is a great way for people to start getting involved.  But the reality is that fair trade farmers and artisans and workers around the world are touched by many issues. A fair market and good trading partners are very important, but there are a lot of things from climate change to unjust trade agreements and discriminatory laws that make it hard. Farmer organizations and worker groups around the world are doing amazing organizing. They have the solutions for the challenges that face their communities. A lot of our advocacy is amplifying those voices and those solutions and bringing people together in conversation.

NANCY: Can you tell me a bit more about your "For A Better World Magazine". How do you decide what to write about? And who and how can potential readers get their hands on this publication?

For A Better World
ANNA: Our For A Better World magazine is one of our biggest educational projects. It comes out twice a year with a print run of 200,000 copies and then downloads from all over the world.  You can find it online, or in local natural food stores, fair trade shops and Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. and Canada.  We also send cases to student groups, group living facilities, faith groups and activists. Anyone who can distribute a case of 100, we love having them help us get the word out. Just drop us a line (at the links here.)

We have an editorial team who helps us curate topics, usually inspired by things we see happening in the world. Sometimes it's a topic that's getting a lot of buzz, sometimes it's a topic that should be getting more.  The current issue was inspired by a coalition that we are part of working on the Real Meals Campaign, advocating for change in the cafeteria systems at universities. Their menus are currently dominated by Big Food companies and we're collectively pushing for them to choose "Real Meals" instead, food that is fair, local, eco-friendly, and doesn't exploit people on the way. We got inspired by that call and in addition to a story on that campaign, there are others profiling the people, organizations, and companies who are living those values and building an alternative to the conventional food systems right now.

NANCY: It appears that FWP has had several 'victories' in advocacy. Is there one you're most proud of? Or you think has had the greatest impact on the greater good?

Stop the TPP Rally
 ANNA: In some ways, it's tough for me to point to a single victory that I would name as "ours." For me, I'm most proud of the ways that we have worked, and continue to work in coalitions with others. We can't claim that we single-handedly stopped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but working with hundreds, if not thousands, of other groups, we managed to shift the public dialogue to say no to a trade deal putting corporate profits ahead of people. I'm also really proud when I see how the Good Food Purchasing Program continues to spread across the country. We had a role in the development of those standards, and are members of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. It's another way that people have so much power when they come together and push for change.

We have also been working on a campaign supporting an independent farmworker union on a Fyffes' melon plantation in Honduras, with allies including the International Labor Rights Forum. They have been organizing against appalling worker conditions for over a decade: workers haven't been paid wages or benefits earned, pregnant workers have been illegally fired, workers who have tried to stand up for their rights have been assaulted. Their struggle continues. We were horrified when Fair Trade USA went ahead and certified the plantation as "fair trade" last year and launched a campaign to get them to decertify. After nearly 10,000 messages were sent, they finally did the right thing and dropped their certification. That attention forced the Ethical Trading Initiative to finalize their expulsion of Fyffes and they are getting kicked out of supermarkets in Europe too. It's too soon to proclaim victory, but we hope the tide is turning. Overall in the U.S., we think a lot about local food, but then there are all the fruits that we get imported, melons in the winter, bananas, pineapple - and folks really know so little about where those come from. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

NANCY: Your site highlights several alert areas where you ask the public to get involved, or at the least educate themselves. Is there any one specific cause you're most passionate about?

Stand With Coffee Farmers
ANNA: We have an alert right now asking folks to sign in solidarity with small-scale coffee farmers who have issued a really urgent call to action: "We cannot live on $0.90 per pound." I worked in fair trade coffee for almost 15 years before I joined Fair World Project. When I started in coffee, we were talking about how the commodity market where coffee was traded was so distant from farmers' daily realities and the cost of production. And we're still having those conversations now.  I have met so many amazing people whose livelihoods depend on coffee and so I feel really strongly about supporting them. Hopefully you will sign the FWP petition in support. Click here. 

NANCY: I'm impressed that there are so many of you that staff FWP. And you're the Campaign Manager. You've a tough job. Do you fund raise from corporations that may not be 100% fair trade? or are you a fantastic grant writer?

ANNA: I actually don't do our fundraising, that's our Executive Director's job. But we have very high standards for who we would take money from, and definitely fair trade is a key part of that.

NANCY: Yours is a pretty intense job Can you tell me what you do for fun in your free time?

ANNA: I love my job so much, but it can be very intangible.  The change we are working for is slow, and on many days it feels like a lot of writing and a lot of phone calls. As an antidote to that, I love to make things, knitting, sewing, dyeing and gardening. I also spend a lot of time sitting and typing so (I enjoy) getting outside for walking, biking, hiking, yoga.

NANCY: Anything else you'd like to share?

ANNA: Thank you for the opportunity to share with you and your readers. My final words would just be to encourage people to do just one thing to express their values every day.
--end of interview-- 

I'm totally with Anna on that one. "Do one thing to express your values every day." Love it! No one person can change the world. Collectively our small contributions make a huge difference.

If you aren't familiar with the Fair World Project website, I strongly encourage you to check it out. There's a wealth of information on so many topics.  I think their simple guide to Fair Trade & Worker Justice Certifications is really helpful. It seems each time I go shopping, I see new stickers on the food I purchase. This guide explains them all.
Mission Driven Brands

Looking for Mission Driven Brands? Fair World Project has screened many food, clothing and craft vendors. I'm thrilled to say Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry is listed. If you have a store, you might find a new, ethical resource here.

Thank you so much to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions with so much thought. I'm certain she has shed light on several topics we all wanted to know more about. -ND






Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Museum Store Association Gallery at LA Mart: A First

Nancy & Daedre
I was there. Dunitz & Company was there. And Museum Store Association was there. Where? The LA Mart temps. Thanks are due Daedre Berryman of Studio Daedre (Western Region, Chapter Vendor Advisor) who worked tirelessly coordinating with LA Mart staff. Her efforts resulted in a new dedicated gallery for MSA vendor members to show off their wares. A shout out to Nora Wade from the LA Mart as well. Nora's the staff that definitely made the gallery "happen"!

MSA Table
Up front and center was our group's table offering information about Museum Store Association. Retailers grabbed available materials including copies of Museum Store magazine. We fielded their questions. I must say, Mary Lind from World Finds was particularly helpful in this department.


Ribbon Cutting
What was really wonderful was the placement of the Museum Store Association gallery. We all were the first thing buyers saw when they entered the "Temp" section of the show. LA Mart even staged a ribbon cutting to announce our new section. Follow the red arrow. Susan Tudor, MSA President (Cummer Museum) was right there in the middle of the welcoming crowd. See the tie dye and costumes? Mart staff dressed for the theme of this market,"Summer of Love". (A DJ in the Mart lobby, just outside of our room, was spinning lots of 60s tunes. Occasionally you'd find one of us bopping to a favorite tune.)

Dunitz Table & Me
Tables were reasonably priced, allowing several MSA members to exhibit. I'm based in Los Angeles, so for me, this was a no-brainer.  The affordability encouraged some out of towners to throw their hats in the ring as well.  It's amazing what one can manage with a 6' table. I'm still shocked that I could effectively show off so many Dunitz fair trade designs on such a small space. By comparison, I have a 15' booth at NY Now.  (Didn't make it to Los Angeles? Find Dunitz & Company at NY Now in Booth 1758, Global Handmade.)

MSA Group Shot
So here's the thing. It will take time to grow a new section of the show, both in terms of exhibitors and buyers. I'm willing to ride the wave. I met new buyers this week, including a few from museums. And I wrote orders with a few. Even if the market seemed slow, in the end, I wrote more than enough business to justify my time and expenses. I believe most of us in the MSA section did. [Photo here includes from L>R, Me, Susan Tudor, Daedre Barryman, Mary Lind Mahmud, Jennifer Barnella]

Another bonus of a smaller show? You get to know some of your neighbors really well! One morning Krista from Krista Bermeo Studio brought in homemade tamales from a vendor selling near her AirBnB. Those were seriously yummy... & her jewelry is in my opinion completely drool-worthy. Pat from Chick Boss designs a line that is made, like mine, in Guatemala. Her metal creations look nothing like what I do and they're fabulous. Gosh, the artisans in Guatemala are amazing. Kenny from Gallery Drinkware was a total delight. And talk about small world.  My niece, Helen Gotlib (an amazing artist, BTW) moved from her Ann Arbor, Main Street home a few years ago because it was being torn down to build condos. Turns out Kenny's in-laws bought one of those condos and occasionally receive Helen's mail.
I also spent some time chatting with exhibitors from permanent showrooms. (They came downstairs to the Temps to check us out.) I loved that they were so positive about the MSA Gallery. They all believe that growing a section such as ours is good for everyone. What smart people they are! They know if more museum buyers attend the LA Mart, that's more potential quality business for all of them. One larger company owner even suggested the Mart should reduce our table fees.

Instagram Story
In typical fashion, I also spent some energy promoting the LA Mart and MSA Gallery on social media. This was my favorite IG Story post. Sara and others were all decked out in psychedelic clothing and in the hall directing buyers and answering their questions.

Los Angeles Mart
At the end of the day, one of the things I enjoy most is working with my customers. I love seeing buyers I've worked with for years. And I very much enjoy acquainting myself with those new to me. And now I want to sing! "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold." Perhaps you'll join Dunitz & Company at the LA Mart in January 2020 to do the same. -ND

MSA-LA Mart Pin

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fearless Fashion at the Skirball: Rudi Gernreich

Gernreich at Skirball
You know I love fashion. And like many of you, I always check out costume and wardrobe exhibitions at local museums. "Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich" is currently on view at the Skirball Cultural Center, and it's well worth taking in. If you anywhere near Los Angeles, don't miss it. While at the museum, definitely check out their museum store. They offer lots of fabulous fair trade Judaica including Dunitz kippot. (Shameless plug.)

Mod Gernreich Designs
But I digress. Rudi Gernreich was a pioneer in fashion in the 60's and 70's. When you see the clothing on display you'll be reminded of Twiggy. More than Twiggy, this exhibition reminded me of my mom. Joanie M (who I named our fused glass collection after) was a total fashion plate. She would have worn Rudi Gernreich designs in a heartbeat. Or maybe she did. Or for sure, she wore clothing inspired by his creations. See these bright dresses? Much of our fair trade jewelry would coordinate perfectly with some of today's similar mod looks.

Patti & Nancy
Perhaps it was me who wore Rudi look-a-like outfits. Yes, I'm the one that looks like a little boy standing with my best friend Patti. Same neon green. Do you remember culottes? And the oversized zipper. Very Rudi.

Unisex Clothing Styles
The best thing about Rudi Gernreich was his forward thinking visions. He introduced the topless swimsuit, the thong, unisex clothing and pantsuits for women. Ah, pantsuits for women. I'm assuming his equal rights for all attitude evolved after he emigrated to the USA. Gernreich had fled Nazi Germany for being Jewish and later experienced discrimination in the United States for being gay. In Los Angeles, he found community while dancing with the Lester Horton Dance Theater, an interracial dance troupe.

Mixing Fashion with Politics
Opinions. Yes. Quoted. Yes. Quoted on the walls of the Skirball. Yes. Rudi Gernreich was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization. That was back when many hid their proclivities. Gernreich designed military styled ready-to-wear in protest of the Vietnam war. He designed thong bathing suits for men and women in protest of Los Angeles banning nude beaches. What more details on the life and times of Rudi Gernreich? Read these recent articles from the Los Angeles Times and Women's Wear Daily.

Satin Pantsuit & Pearls
So get on over to the Skirball Cultural Center if you're anywhere near the City of Angels. You won't regret the trip. I can't possibly share in photos the over 80 ensembles featured. The show closes September 1st. (You still have time.) What will amaze you, as it did me, is how so many of the designs are completely wearable today. If only I had my mom's clothing from her 1960's and 1970's closet.  I might find a satin pantsuit like this one.

Dunitz fair trade kippot
Did I tell you to visit Audrey's, the Skirball store? Yes, I did. But, heck, I'm telling you again. There you'll find Dunitz & Company's fair trade kippot. You will love seeing them up close and personal. (Yes, I had to plug for that one more time.) -ND

Pin Our Blog Post

Monday, June 17, 2019

Instagramers You Don't Know & Worth Following

Me at the Fair Trade Federation Conference
I work tirelessly on social media, all in an effort to get Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry noticed. The Shop Dunitz Instagram feed seems to steal a lot of my attention. Unfortunately posting pretty pics of our jewelry and models wearing our jewelry only seems a small part of the effort. Growing an engaging, interesting and interested following seems near impossible. I like interacting with other users. I follow accounts I think I may find interesting or those I think should know about Dunitz & Company. Sometimes these accounts follow back and dialog with me. Most don't. And honestly, if they're not interested in interacting, I typically move on. Gotta say, I enjoy the give and take. I've never paid for followers or for bot programs that interact with accounts impersonating me. (I've considered the latter. But it seems so unnatural to me when bots comment on my photos.) So what's a girl to do?

It is estimated that there are over 100 million accounts on Instagram. Can you believe it? The sheer volume of images and information passing through my feed and/or #hashtag searches makes it a daunting task to find those I identify with and/or choose to learn something from.

If you're interested in saving our environment, thrifting or conservation, here are 10 Instagramers I've discovered to be engaging and engaged. None of them seem to be gamers. Just amazing humans sharing good information. I'd love to support their efforts and hope their voices will be heard a bit louder. In no particular order. No targeted editorial comments. Just my recommendation to follow and dialog.

Devi Speaks from the Heart
1. developingstyleblog

Matt to the Point
2. sustainablematt 

Wonderful Thrifted Finds
3. slow_fashion_finder 

Updated and Upcycled
4. nonewness 

Let's Help Clean Our Oceans
 5. ethicellie

Bonnie Promotes Natural Wellness
6. conscious.chica

Eco Tips & Suggestions
7. thewiseconsumer

Hates Plastic. Yes!
8. msatx.livesgreen

9. conscious_49   

Solutions to Using Less Plastic
10. lets_savetheplanet 

After you've followed these accounts for a while, please let me know what you think of them. If you have some Instagram accounts you think I'd enjoy interacting with, I'd sure appreciate the recommendations.  If you're not watching the Dunitz & Company Instagram feed, please do. If you're seeking  fair trade jewelry  for you or for a gift, please consider one of my beautiful designs from Guatemala. (Yeh, I had to end with that!) Thanks all. Thanks for reading. - ND

Monday, June 10, 2019

Terrific Museum.Terrific Museum Store. Bowers Museum.

Bowers Museum

It's always fun to see Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry on museum store shelves. And my recent trip to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, put a smile on my face. Not only because I saw an amazing exhibit, (more on that later in this post) it's also such a privilege to have my designs offered at the Bowers Gallery Store.

Nancy & Pauline
I entered the museum looking for the friend I was to meet. It was Sunday. And there at the 'Information Desk' I spotted Pauline Rusterholtz, the buyer for the museum's store trimming and arranging a vase of flowers. Yes, she's a woman of many talents. And as I waited for my friend to arrive, Pauline and I caught up and chatted. She told me I'd go nuts for the "Guo Pei, Couture Beyond" exhibit. And she was absolutely right. Guo Pei is an amazing Chinese clothing designer who first gained notoriety in the west when superstar Rihanna wore her golden cape dress at the 2015 Met Gala. If you're in Southern California, definitely check it out. It closes on July 14th. (And, yes, we're posing under a photo of Harry & Meghan in Pauline's office.)

Guo Pei Exhibit
I took this opportunity to ask Pauline if I could interview her for my blog and/or send her a few questions for the answering. She said yes. I know that Pauline supports fair trade when she can, and I knew she was also a member of Museum Store Association. My goal was to learn a few pearls of wisdom from this experienced buyer. I did. Keep reading and you will too.

NANCY: You've been part of the Bowers Museum family since forever. How did you come to work at the Bowers? Had you worked at other museums or done retail prior to taking over the gift store there?

PAULINE: I was moving to Orange County from San Francisco and knew the then manager of the Bowers Museum store. She asked me if I would be interested in working at the store and I said yes. And here I am, 25 years later.

NANCY: Each time I see your store, I'm not only impressed with the merchandising, but also the breadth of amazing products you offer in so many price points. We met in the legendary Kentia Hall World Style exhibits of the now, closed Los Angeles Gift Show - back in the 90's. How do you now source new things for your store?

PAULINE: Mainly by researching on the Internet. I also meet new vendors that come to the museum.

NANCY: You sell items from all over the globe in your store.  Is there a part of the world that you've visited, or products from a certain part of the world that excite you the most?

PAULINE: Just receiving different items from around the world is exciting for us, especially when we meet with different artists from different cultures.  (Yes, Pauline is a diplomat. And it seems she likes vendors to personally call on her. Makes me realize I wish I was 3 people, so I could meet with many buyers in person, on their turf.)

NANCY: When we first met, fair trade really hadn't yet been defined.  I'm sure you could tell which vendors seemed more ethical in the ways they did business. Does validated or certified fair trade play a part in your purchasing decisions now?

PAULINE: Very much so. We always try to work with Fair Trade [vendors].

NANCY: I joined Museum Store Association a few years ago. I have found it to be such a supportive group and I'm thrilled to know you are a member. Is there something in particular about this association that you appreciate or find most helpful? 

PAULINE: I find all of the available information they provide very helpful. I particularly enjoy "Shop Talk". It is a very good resource for so many things. (Shop Talk is an on-line forum of the Museum Store Association where members share ideas on products and store management. This alone, justifies membership.)

NANCY: And you know, I had to ask. Do you have a personal favorite design or designs from Dunitz & Company's collections?

Dunitz at the Bowers
PAULINE: You have such a great variety, it is tough to have a favorite. I try to pick out what appeals to our visitors. (always a diplomat!)

----end of interview---

It appears I wasn't 100% on my game on my recent trip to the Bowers Museum Store. I should have been snapping photos, and except for one of Pauline and me (show above), I didn't take photos in the store. This pic to the right is from May 2017. And yes, the Bowers has always done particularly well with our fair trade earrings.

I want to 'shout out' to the Bowers Museum social media team. I follow them everywhere. Definitely follow their Instagram account. Their feed is fun to watch and I've learned a thing or two from the way they engage their audience. They consistently ask questions of their viewers. (SO SMART.) I love when they ask their followers to caption old photographs from their collection. And guess what? I always do. And one time I even won entrance for two to the museum.

In Southern California? Can't make the Guo Pei exhibit? Don't fret. OK, fret a little. The Bowers Museum has another (what looks to be incredible) exhibit coming up September 21 - January 19, 2020. That's a big window of time which means I definitely will NOT be missing "Dimensions of Form: Tamayo and Mixografia." (Did you know I was a summer intern at the Guggenheim Museum NY when I was in college? And that summer, I was a docent guiding visitors through the Rufino Tamayo retrospective.) In the area? Want to join me?

Definitely visit the Bowers Museum for their exhibits AND their fabulous store. And while you're there make sure to treasure hunt for Dunitz fair trade jewelry. -ND

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Fair Trade for Father's Day

Well, all, this is one holiday where I cannot pitch Dunitz fair trade jewelry. We just don't have any hipster jewelry for men at the time of this posting. What I can share with you are some fabulous gift ideas from my Fair Trade Federation colleagues. Great ideas. Many price points. Keep reading to find the perfect gift (not in any particular order) for your dad.

1. Weatherproof Hammock - If dad has a yard, he absolutely needs one of these stunners from Cielo Hammock. He will be thanking you forever as he relaxes with a good book. This hammock is weatherproof and made from mercerized treated cotton with UV protection. And who doesn't love the color blue? $120.00 includes free shipping.

2. Cord Keeper - It doesn't need to be expensive to be perfect. Guarentees your dad will stay organized and out of a twisted mess. Worldcrafts is your source for this fabulously designed cord keeper which is made by women in need in the South Bronx of New York. Only $7.99. Buy two?

3. Luggage Tags - Handmade in India, designed by Matr Boomie and available from ZeeBee Market. (These are made from sustainable* leather. That means animals have died of natural causes, not for consumption.) Your dad will not only easily find his bags when he travels, his bags will look terrific. Choose your favorite animal. Or surprise him with all three. $12.95/each

4. Coffee Sampler - Who doesn't like coffee? So why not surprise your father with a variety pack from Dean's Beans? He'll receive six 4oz packs. When he's done trying them all, he'll know which is his favorite. Only $19.99

5. African Straw Hat - Does dad garden or hike?  These good looking hats with a chin strap are created by African Market Baskets and available from Tango Zulu Imports. We have it on good authority that the dudes love love love these hats. $44.99

6. Lhotsi Wool Sweater - Your father will be the most handsome guy on the block in this Everest Designs sweater. It's even on sale as I type. Great pockets. Lined with cotton for comfort. Made from New Zealand wool and crafted in Nepal. We think dad will wear this one for years to come. $189.00

7. Sock Collection - Seriously! Who doesn't need more socks? Dad will adore this Humanitarian Collection from Conscious Step and offered by Global Gifts. Conscious Step produces their socks in India, and part of their sales proceeds go to Malaria No More, UNAids and Oxfam. Dad will feel great knowing you all are making a difference. $50.00

8.  Peace Key Chain - Believe it or not, these key chains are made from melting down aluminum from old car parts. They're crafted in Nicaragua using an age-old sand casting process and offered by Flatboat Fair Traders. They have lots of other designs too. At $12.00, you might want to purchase a few.

9. Magnifying Glass - Does your dad sit in front of a newspaper or book most of the time? (I know my dad did.) Maybe a handsome magnifying glass from Ten Thousand Villages will help out when the print becomes too small. This stunning gift is handcrafted in India. $24.99

10. Lip Balm - Have you tried Zambeezi's lip balm? Once you have, you'll never go back. Get your dad hooked with this variety pack. While you're at it, maybe you should buy a set for mom. Crafted in Zambia of organic ingredients. $11.99

11. Rubber Carry Bag - Yes, this bag made from recycled tire rubber comes from a Dunitz & Company collection sourced in Peru. Actually we think this bag could be used by sporty men or women. Also makes a perfect travel toiletries case. Now on Sale at $20.00

12. Bicycle Book Ends - Perfect for your favorite bookworm. And that might be your father. We think these bicycle iron book ends are so fun. Don't you love that the front end and back end of the bike are featured separately? Crafted in India and offered by ZeeBee Market. $29.95

13. Picture Frame - When in doubt go for a handsome picture frame. This one features ethically sourced bone and wood inlay. Just remember to add an image that dad will love forever and ever. It might even be a pic of you and dad together from when you were six years old. Just saying. Created by Matr Boomie and offered by Fair Trade Winds. $34.00

So, there you have it. Lucky Thirteen fabulous gift options in a variety of price points for your favorite father. Support Fair Trade Federation members who work tirelessly at making a difference in the lives of producers. If you like what you've read, please share our guide on social media. You can even hover over our perfect pin (if you are on a computer, and not an iPad) and easily share it on Pinterest. You can't help feeling good about that. -ND