Monday, May 6, 2019

World Fair Trade Day - Learn More

Me. Promoting Fair Trade.
When I started this blog post a few weeks ago, I wanted to exclusively focus on World Fair Trade Day (coming up on May 11th.) And as I researched online, I found little specific to this date. What I quickly noticed was that Earth Day, Fashion Revolution Day and World Fair Trade Day seemed to string together in quick succession. The message? Be cognizant of making ours a better world, each and every day. On Earth Day I posted a blog sharing little things I do and you can do to make ours a better planet. For Fashion Revolution Day, I’m sure you saw many reminders of it's origins stemming from the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster. These occasions remind us to make smarter  purchasing choices.

But what about World Fair Trade Day specifically? The goal of this designated day is to celebrate fair trade and encourage people to support and purchase fair trade goods whenever possible. What better thing is there than to encourage fair and ethical consumerism. So, with this blog post, I'm hoping to do just that.

World Fair Trade Day
The World Fair Trade Organization has a page dedicated to World Fair Trade Day 2019. Click to see what events have been posted in your area. Perhaps there's an event going on near you. If not, you can definitely learn more about activism worldwide.

Fair Trade Innovates
 Are you following the World Fair Trade Organization twitter feed? If not, connect. They consistently post a wealth of information. And as I type, up on top of their feed today, (see photo here) are nearly a million reasons to celebrate. That's nearly a million people benefiting from fair trade enterprises. 

Fair Trade Federation
A great source of information about World Fair Trade Day and fair trade in general is the Fair Trade Federation, of which Dunitz & Company is a proud and vetted member. Their site reminds us that World Fair Trade Day is an inclusive festival of events celebrating fair trade's contribution to fight against poverty, exploitation and climate change. How can you not get behind that? Of course, we think every day should be fair trade day! You probably already believe in many of the things we do. Why not browse the Fair Trade Federation site and see how we articulate our values? The about, fair trade principles and 'what makes us different' sections are so easily understood.

Fair Trade Campaigns
Another great organization worth following is Fair Trade Campaigns. This organization's mission is to encourage towns, universities, congregations and schools to make commitments to fair trade practices. Their site also lists a lot of events. Perhaps you'll find one in your area and join in. Don't be shy. Scroll down the list. If there isn't an activity in your area this month, there may be one next. Filter campaigns by region, and you might find an active group near you.

Fair Trade Los Angeles
Want to get more involved? Many cities have active and organized groups. My city does. Fair Trade Los Angeles hosts regular meetings, screenings, educational talks and socials with like-minded people. Chicago Fair Trade is another active group that comes to mind. Just google it. Your city. Fair Trade. See what comes up. 

Fair Trade Innovates
I'm all about World Fair Trade Day, especially if by designating this day, more people talk about and educate others about the benefits of fair trade. If you're interested in fair trade, get involved any day and any time of year. If you are following World Fair Trade Day events, follow the hashtag #FairTradeInnovates so you don't miss a thing. By visiting some of the links I've shared above, you're well on your way to being a fair trade advocate. -ND

Monday, April 29, 2019

Fall 2019 Fashion - Purple Makes A Comeback

Fall 2019 - Purple Reigns
I'm thinking about Dunitz & Company's Fall 2019 fair trade jewelry collection. We're busy finalizing our newest designs and colors for our summer launch. Trust me, I can't reveal much now. But one thing I can tell you for sure is that "purple is making a comeback." It doesn't matter what season it is or what famous runway designers dictate as on-trend, for some women, purple always reigns. This season, everyone will be in the act. From the likes of Derek Lam, Sally Lapointe and Tom Ford, trust me many of you will be strutting your stuff next winter in shades of purple. I absolutely know it.

So girls, start scouring your closet for your purple sweaters and skirts from years past. And if you can't scavenge enough oldies and goodies to create a 'new again' purple look, check out your local thrift store. Sure, you can always buy something new from Jill Stuart or Kate Spade's collection. Dunitz & Company will be ready to adorn you with fair trade jewelry in shades of orchid and plum.

Dunitz Fair Trade Jewelry
Not yet. I won't share with you my new color combinations for Fall. I just want to tease you. In season's past, I typically have one shade that includes some hint of purple. Fall 2019 will anoint you with more of it. Sometime I re-launch best selling colors from the past. Most seasons I tweak combos of the past and offer new ones. Color variations of these earrings may be in our lineup.

Modeling Purple
So stay tuned. Time seems to pass so quickly. Summer will be here soon. And then, and only then we'll reveal our latest fair trade jewelry looks and colors. And you can be sure our models will be doing the same. -ND

Monday, April 22, 2019

Making Changes for A Better Planet

I'm always looking for better ways, simple ways to conserve, recycle or help our planet just a little bit here and there. Perhaps you are too. I've read and seen numerous blog posts about zero waste. They preach big changes. And if many of you are like me, making significant changes in the way we live every day, can be tough. My thought is if everyone makes small changes collectively, these changes can amount to big differences for our planet. I'd love to hear your ideas. In the meantime, here are a few things I've learned from reading, tweeting and chatting with others. They're listed in no particular order.

1.  From time to time I reach out to Green America and LA Sanitation on twitter or facebook. I read their posts, and some of them inspire questions. I was wondering if all glass is recyclable. And I was wondering about all that oil packed food we purchase and how to best dispose of the oil. What I learned: Yes. Just about all glass can be dumped in the blue recycle bins. (Clean it first. More on that in #2.) Old light bulbs or broken drinking vessels are a few of the items you shouldn't toss in the blue bins. It was suggested that I keep a large glass container (mine often come from sun dried tomatoes I purchase) under my sink. Each time I have a recyclable container with oil, I add the oil to the container under the sink.  (You definitely do not want to toss oil down your drains.) When the container under my sink is full of oil, I was told to discard it in the trash, the black bin. Doing this allows me to dispose of many more glass jars into the blue bins.


2. Yes. Wash out all of those plastic and glass containers before dumping them into the blue bin. It was explained to me (by Green America reps) that they don't need to be sparkling clean or put through the dishwasher before disposing. But, most of the gunky stuff must be gone. Otherwise, these containers will contaminate everything in the bin and none of it will be recyclable. I was told that cost (financially and for conservation purposes) of using water to clean containers before tossing made complete sense. My trick for saving water is to fill containers partially full, close and shake. Shake a lot. No need to run the water 24/7 while washing this or that. I seem to wash and toss a lot of yogurt containers. One day, I'll learn to make my own yogurt. For the present time, I make sure that most of the plastic containers I receive can be recycled.

3. This is a great tip and certainly one I never thought of. A friend of mine, a optometrist told me that most people do not realize the containers their contacts come in are recyclable. Stop throwing them in the trash. Those plastic containers should absolutely go in the blue bin. (Yes, toss the foil top.)

4. Did you know that thermal paper receipts are made and printed with chemicals that are not recyclable. Those are the flimsy receipts from the grocery store, gas station and post office. One way we can help our environment is by accepting less receipts when given a choice. If you don't need a record of your spending, why take this nasty paper. Have you noticed the ink on this type of paper fades too? Not great for accounting purposes. And, when you are given them, don't throw them in blue bin. They are black bin - land fill trash.

5. Here's a two part-er. Why not consider using metal coffee filters versus paper ones that go into our trash bins?  Some experts say the gold-tone filters can last up to seven years. The choice is not only environmentally sound. It saves money. Part #2.  If you have a garden, use the grounds for plants. Some gardeners suggest coffee grounds are best for plants that love acidity, such as azaleas. Others say no matter the plant, coffee grounds make terrific mulch. Curious? There are lots of articles out there on the topic.

6. More gardening tips. I don't cook very much these days. But I do steam vegetables and boil pasta. When I'm finished, my pots are full of water. What do I do?  I let the water cool and then I dump it in the yard and water my plants. Why put it down the drain? 

7. Don't buy the bag. If you're like me, you receive some sort of goody bag at every conference, gift show or meeting you attend. I even have a few from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power from when they were dropping off efficient light bulbs at every residential door last year. I keep a bunch of bags in my car so I can easily take them into grocery stores, hardware stores and just about any other store where I'll need some. Why would you do otherwise?

8. I don't use liquid soap. I also know that a lot of people do. When I visit friend's homes, I always see liquid soap by every sink. When did liquid soap become so popular?  I say go back to using bar soap.Why do we need to purchase one more thing that comes in plastic containers? I love purchasing handmade soap from small artisanal vendors. Give it a try. You'll be hooked.

9. I operate a small fair trade business and ship a lot of boxes full of fair trade jewelry. Reusing packing material is not only good for the environment, it make economic sense.  We receive parcels filled with Styrofoam, bubble pack and biodegradable peanuts.  Many boxes are stuffed with tissue and brown craft paper. And many boxes we receive are in good shape. Heck, sometimes when I have a busy season, I look for people giving the stuff away on Craigslist. Why not use it all again and again? Dunitz & Company notes on our website that we recycle much of the packing materials we receive.  I had one customer ball me out recently for using Styrofoam peanuts in a box I sent her. I explained to her that we don't purchase these materials. Her belief was that we should never use these materials no matter the source. What are your thoughts?

10. I know some of my tips seem obvious. They are obvious. Just the same, I'm certain a lot of us forget the obvious. So, here is a reminder. Turn off the lights. If you're not hanging out in a room, turn the darn things off.  I think we all could be a bit more conscientious of this one! (I know this photo shows an old fashioned light bulb. It's a cool photo. And if you still have these type of bulbs in your home, change 'em out for the ones that are much more energy effecient.)

12. This one is on my to-do list.  If you're anything like me, you've got some old computers and non-functioning electrical gadgets or stereo equipment taking up space in your home (or office).  Finding the best way to get rid of this stuff may take a little online research. One friend of mine in Albuquerque told me there's a small local computer store that responsibly recycles these things.  In Los Angeles, we have Home Boy Industries. They're actually certified and guarantee not only to responsibly recycle, they also provide secure data destruction. Like you, I worry about all those old hard drives I've been holding onto for years.

11. Something small, makes a difference. Don't walk past that potato chip bag in the street. Why not pick it up and put it in the trash. Make the planet just a little prettier. When you do pick up a bit of trash here and there, it does make our living spaces just a bit more lovely. Evidently September 21, 2019 is slated as National Clean Up Day. Did you know this even existed? [I don't plan it. But I do participate. My neighborhood association organizes a clean up day each year.]

Choose a few of the options from my list to implement into your life. Start today. Why not reduce your carbon footprint just a wee bit and have a positive impact on the environment.  And then tell a friend or coworker about the changes you're making. It may encourage others to step up to the plate as well. Like I said in the beginning of this post, small changes by all of us collectively can make big differences. -ND

Thursday, April 18, 2019

11 Fair Trade Gifts for Mother's Day

What better way is there to say thank you to mom (and I love you) than with a fair trade gift? Here are 11 suggestions that are sure to put a big smile on your mother's face. All are offered by fair trade verified Fair Trade Federation members and in a range of price points.

Fused Glass Earrings
1. Fused Glass Teardrop Earrings - Offered in several hues by Dunitz & Company. And yes I had to list our earrings first (and typed with a smile). We offer many shapes and many colors of our fair trade earrings. Teardrops have always been a customer favorite. And anything in combinations of blue are always a sure bet. Hand crafted in Guatemala. Only $18.00

Poppy Scarf
2. Kyrgyz Silk & Felted Scarf - I know these scarves up close and personal. You and mom will be completely wowed by their extraordinary beauty.  Follow the link to learn more about the producers and their family tradition of combining raw silk with felted wool. Offered by Hoonsarts. These are available in several colors and sizes. 79"x 24" $115.00

Castile Soap
3.  Peppermint & Lavender Castile Soap Set - Mom will go nuts for the scents and versatility of Dr. Bronner's pure Castile soap. Gentle enough to use on your face. Take it in the shower. Or heck, you could use it for dishes. I think this gift set is perfect because just about everyone loves the scents of peppermint and lavender. And it's so affordable at $14.99

Striped Aprons
4. Handwoven Bib Aprons - This is the perfect gift for a mom that cooks! We don't think she needs to cook on her special day. But on every other day, she'll want to be decked out in a gorgeous striped fair trade apron. This one comes from MayaMam Weavers and is handmade in Guatemala. $35.00

Ikat Crossbody
5.Ikat Crossbody Purse - From Malia Designs and the perfect size. I love the Ikat fabric in black. The neutral color allows it to be worn with just about anything. Large enough to carry all that one needs and not the kitchen sink. (You know how women tend to carry EVERYTHING, everywhere.) Made in Cambodia. $46.00

Paper Bead Necklace
6. Triple Strand Paper Bead Necklace - These fun 27" long strand necklaces are created with handmade paper beads crafted by the Acholi women of Uganda. Project Have Hope has been working with these women for several years to ensure they can take care of themselves and their families. Your mom will look great and your purchase will help these women. Win-Win. $30.00

Mugs with Heart
7. Speckled Red Heart Mugs - We suggest purchasing a set of 2 for mom. And the visible heart show off just how you feel. And who can have too many mugs for all the fair trade coffee we all drink?  These good looking mugs are crafted in Haiti for Papillon Marketplace. Yes, Food Safe. $16.00/each

Recycled Rubber Travel Case
8.  Recycled Rubber Travel Case - Does mom travel? We know she could always use a nifty case for her makeup and toiletries.  This one from Revy Fair Trade is made from recycled inner-tube and tire rubber. Now how cool is that? Revy's efforts in El Salvador are changing lives. $32.00

Gathered Scarf
9. Gathered Cotton Scarf - Lightweight and fun, we adore this multi-colored gathered scarf from Sevya. Sevya's fair trade scarves are created by artisan groups using centuries-old craft traditions. And, this beauty is actually on sale at the time of my writing. Only $21.00

Luggage Tags
10. Denim Luggage Tags - Is mom a traveler? Perhaps one or more of these fabulous luggage tags fashioned and loomed with recycled denim threads will make the perfect gift? Dad will love them so much, he might steal them away from mom. Available from Mayan Hands and made in Guatemala. $9.00/each

Tablet Sleeve
11. Leather & Woven Tablet Sleeve - Perhaps your mother is glued to her tablet. If she is, you might consider a fabulous looking 13" protective covering. MZ designs some of the most sophisticated pieces coming out of Oaxaca, Mexico. I think these sleeves are sharp. My guess is mom will too. $87.00

So there you have it, my list of  11 fabulous fair trade gifts for mom. Get a jump on Mother's Day and make sure she feels special.

Nancy & Joanie M
And finally, since I am writing about Mother's Day, I must pay tribute to mine. She may be in heaven above, but I think of her almost every day.  Did you see the #1 recommendation above? Dunitz & Company's fused glass jewelry line was named to honor my mom, the original Joanie M. I know she's smiling knowing earrings hanging on cards with her name are selling in so many gift shops and boutiques. -ND

Monday, March 11, 2019

Embracing Vintage. A Chat with Rachel Adelicia.

Rachel, My Fashion Super Hero

Many of you know I'm crazy for vintage fashion. I absolutely love scouring for goodies at local flea markets and thrift stores. And yes, I've been known to snag a few treasures on eBay. There is no question that this passion of mine influences many of my designs for Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collection. It also draws me to several Instagram feeds I religiously follow. One of my favorites is Rachel Adelicia's. This girl rocks vintage style. She knows her designers and she, frankly looks amazing in all of them. I've been admiring her 'je ne sais quoi' for so long, I finally asked her if she'd be willing to answer a few interview questions for my blog. An overwhelming yes resulted in the following:

NANCY: I've been watching your Instagram feed for a few years now, and I'm always so impressed with your style. Who or what inspired your love of fashion? 

Grandmother and Young Fashionista
RACHEL: My love of fashion and style are both a constant in my life, and something that's still evolving. My mom will tell you that I've always known exactly what I wanted to wear, what shoes to pair it with, and (on top of that) I'd have three more outfits selected for any given day. She loves to share a story about how when I was three, I decided to wear a leotard, even though it was freezing outside, and I made her carry all of my other options. As a baby, we lived in Spain and my mom spent part of her days taking my picture in various outfits. I always tease her that this was the origin of my blog.  Growing up, I drew inspiration from my grandmother's closet, magazines, TV, and any book (on fashion) or old photos I could get my hands on. Today, I still love looking at magazines, TV, film, Instagram, and just about anything that relates to fashion.  This world is gorgeous and I love drawing inspiration from every place I visit. I truly believe that fashion is just a way for us to tell our stories, and I think it's exciting that we can decide 'who' we're going to be or what story we're going to tell each day.

NANCY: Did you study fashion design or fashion history?  You sure know how to pull an impressionable outfit together.

A Postal Story
RACHEL: I have a BFA in Theater & Television, so I've studied costuming.  I also have a passion for art and art history. I'm fascinated by the crossover of art and fashion. Most of my outfits come from either an idea of a shoot I want to do, or a story I want to tell, or my wanting to put together pieces I already own and love.

NANCY: Being a fair-trader myself, I'm particularly interested in sustainable fashion, thrifting and discovering great vintage finds. You seem to excel at it. Do you have any tips for someone who is new at hunting for fashion treasure? 

Rachel on YouTube
RACHEL: I love vintage and thrift shopping. I think the most important thing is to give yourself ample time. This kind of shopping requires you to really look, dig in, and explore whatever store you're in or website you're surfing. Flexibility is key, being open to whatever is there that day. If you love something, I always say buy it, because it can be hard to find that something again. There are so many websites and brick & mortars out there (selling vintage), so I think that patience comes into play. Most of all, have fun with the process. Vintage shopping and thrifting is a treasure hunt game. Let the process bring you joy. (For a few more tips and ideas, watch Rachel's recent You Tube video.)

NANCY: What about preservation? Do you have any practical suggestions for caring for vintage finds? Maybe the best way to keep the moths away? Or a simple way to clean an old leather handbag?

Best Kept Cleaning Secret
RACHEL: To keep your vintage fresh, I cannot recommend acid free tissue paper enough. Fold your really fragile and intricate pieces in it. Use good quality hangers. High quality leather oil and soap, Coach makes a great set, will preserve your handbags. Retro-Clean is what I use to wash most of my vintage. It's a soak that takes out aging stains but is super gentle.  I try to tow the line between enjoying my clothes and taking care of them. I say, live in them, but make sure to treat them well.

NANCY: Do you have a favorite designer past or present? What about that designer excites you?

Showing Off a Party Dress
RACHEL: I love 1950's Dior. And new Gucci. I love how unapologetic it is. Anything with personality. I have a thing for party dresses, always have, so any great party dress is always on my wish-list. What excites me most about fashion is mixing it up. High with Low. Vintage with Modern. I think that's the most fresh way to express yourself, and the most interesting.


NANCY: Do you have a favorite vintage find? Maybe two? I'd love to hear what they are?

Rachel wears Texas 1964
RACHEL: I split my time between Los Angeles and Austin, TX and I own a dress that belonged to Miss Texas of 1964 which I found in Los Angeles. [Note: This dress was worn during Miss Texas's reign. It is uncertain to what event she specifically wore it.] It's the perfect combination of me. I also have quite a few things including coats and suits that were once my grandma's and my mom's. These are so dear to my heart.

NANCY: Any other tips or tidbits you'd like to share? 

RACHEL: Fashion connects us, can speak for us, ties us to the past and the future. It's so much more than what we're actually wearing.  I love fashion and the idea that I inspire others. (She does.) I'm so so so lucky to work in fashion for my living. I'm so grateful.

---end of interview

So, there you have it.  I can say with complete confidence, if you have any interest in vintage fashion design, you should be watching Rachel Adelicia's Instagram feed. From there you can easily find her blog posts and videos.

One more thing. Rachel also follows Shop Dunitz (don't forget to follow us, too) on Instagram and is a frequent admirer of my designs. I know this because she "likes" a lot of our posts. She seems to have a soft spot for our Joanie M fused glass jewelry and tells me next time she's in Los Angeles we'll do a photo shoot together. I can't wait! -ND

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hollywood Stars Shine in Pink

I'm always thinking about color and how it pertains to Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collection. That being said, you absolutely know that the color pink is on my brain after watching the recent Academy Awards. I already knew from watching trends, projections and runway shows that I should include various shades of pink in the Dunitz Spring 2019 lineup.  And I did. What I didn't know, and to some extent still don't, is whether my customers will be willing to wear it. (You've heard me countless time say blue is always the top seller.)

I couldn't have been more pleased to see so many Hollywood A-Listers dolled up in fabulous pink gowns for Oscar's biggest night. Pale Pink. Hot Pink. Fuchsia. Julia Roberts. Gemma Chan. Helen Mirren. Kacey Musgraves. Age was of no issue. Even Jason Mamoa stepped out in a pink velvet Tuxedo.

What does that mean for the rest of us? I'd say it's time for many of us to show some bravery, even if it's only a small accent of bravery.  Consider wearing a pair of Dunitz & Company's pink fair trade earrings. And yes, we have pale pink, hot pink and fuchsia options. -ND

Monday, February 25, 2019

Oscar Fashions - Tongue in Cheek

Did you watch the Oscars last night? I always study Academy Awards fashion looking for tips and trends that might impact my designs for Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. I loved the sea of pink. So many different shades of pink. There were also many looks that for some reason struck my funny bone. So for a bit of humor, I thought I'd share my observations.

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez. The woman is gorgeous. And she looked absolutely stunning last night. However, my knee-jerk reaction was, "where is the floral headpiece?"  Her silver mirrored mosaic gown (designed by Tom Ford) with her perfect hourglass figure made me think of the glitzy vases you'll find in many lifestyle furniture stores. And you know what I mean, right?

Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves showed up in a flouncy pastel pink number that landed on several best-dressed lists. To me, her gown, designed by Giambattista Valli reminded me of a fluffy loofah. I've since observed that the fashion twitter feeds are saying the same.

Gemma Chan
When I saw Gemma Chan on the red carpet I was totally wowed. How could someone look so absolutely breathtaking in a dress that resembles a tent. (I read she hid cookies in her pockets.) OK, this Valentino gown didn't "exactly" look like a tent. But, seriously.  I live and work in Hollywood, CA. I live only half a mile from where this extravagant event was taking place. I live next to the Hollywood Bowl where all the limos parked during the ceremony. And I hate to say it. The gown brought me down to earth and reminded me of all the tents in the area housing homeless. And sometimes they're pink. It's a huge problem in Los Angeles.

Charlize Theron
A more pleasing association is what was brought to mind when I saw the stunning Charlize Theron strutting her stuff. She's one long tall drink of water. And in a slate blue Dior gown topped off  with prominent diamond jewels, I know it's crazy, but I thought of a long, tall light post. And the most famous one's around here are Urban Lights, a sculpture installation created by Chris Burden. See it up close out front at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Haven't seen it? Now you must get on over to LACMA.

Christine Lahti
Christine Lahti looked quite adorable in this number designed by Romona Kevenza.  And evidently she twirled in it several times to show off just how pretty it was (and she was.) It reminded me a bit of a lampshade I have in my living room. It did. Well just a bit.

Lupita Nyong'o * Bjork
So here's my final thought. Lupita Nyong'o skipped the red carpet this year. Evidently she attended the Academy Awards. She just didn't strut her stuff in the feathery Oscar de la Renta gown she was donning. Perhaps she didn't want to be compared with Bjork and the swan dress Bjork wore in 2001. (Gee, that was a long time ago.) But here's the thing. Lupita does the look so much better!

Most all of Hollywood's elite looked amazing last night. And only a few made me think of mosaic vases and vintage lamp posts. Stay tuned for the 2020 Oscars. Who knows what I'll discover and share on the Dunitz blog. - ND