Thursday, November 4, 2021

November is for Thanks. Our Small Fair Trade Business Thanks You.

And like that, it's November. And November is for thanks. It's been a tough time for so many small fair trade businesses like ours. The trials and tribulations presented by Covid did not fall lightly on Dunitz & Company. And I know it's been a tough go for so many others. I thought this was the perfect time to prove the glass is always half full, not half empty. In no particular order, and on behalf of Dunitz & Company, here is a bunch of thanks. [And if you want to know why this pic to the right is so special, you'll need to read to the end!]

 

 

We're thankful for our customers, many who keep coming back time and time again. Clearly they wouldn't be reordering if our fair trade jewelry didn't sell. We also know there are so many choices out there. And we're thankful they do keep coming back. When brick & mortar stores began opening up again earlier this year, we were overjoyed that so many of our existing customers restocked with our designs. (This collage was made in 2015. It certain shows how much we appreciate you all!.)

 

We're thankful for our clients who have collaborated with us to create custom designs for their stores. There are too many to name. We did write a blog post not too long ago, where we singled out many projects. Click to check it out here. You might get some good ideas for your store! The earrings featured to the right are offered by ZeeBee Market in Saint Louis.

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for our artisan colleagues in Guatemala who continue to produce high quality jewelry that our customers want. Even with Covid, we've managed to keep things going and people working. (You can see I put together this collage before I stopped coloring my hair.) These are some of the folks I work with in Guatemala. We make a difference for them. They make a difference for us.


 

 

 

We're thankful for the Small Business Administration and the loans and in some cases forgiveness they provided for some of that loan money during Covid times. The extra slush has helped Dunitz & Company as we say "keep our head above water."

 

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for our supportive fair trade colleagues. There are those that share ideas instead of hiding them. Ones that give you shout-outs from time to time, just because. This year we've collaborated on several projects with HoonArts, Sevya and Baskets of Africa. Our most recent collaboration was a joint gift to Fair Trade Federation for their virtual auction fundraiser.

 

 

 

We're thankful for our newest company mascot that brings love and humor to our office daily. We're speaking of Bella the weimaraner. She joined us in March from the Los Angeles Shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for our often messy office, which allows us to get our work done in a safe place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for our office landlord who reduced our monthly rent during these crazy times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for our neighbors who pawn off their used boxes and packing materials on us. We love not spending money on packing materials when we don't have to. And we also like knowing by recycling, we are saving our planet just a little bit. Our neighbors run a small vegan grocery.

 

 

 

 

We're thankful for the support organizations we're part of that continue to educate the masses about the merits of fair trade. Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade Los Angeles, Green America.

 

 

 

We're thankful for our museum store clients and our membership at Museum Store Association. (My love of fine art, my art history studies and my new found love as a portrait artist feed my love of working with museum stores even more.)

 

 

We're thankful for the new "wholesale rep" websites (in the absence of trade shows,) that have sprung up and grown in recent times. FAIRE and ABOUND have allowed us to find and connect with new retail stores. This new way of connecting with retailers may mean we won't have to travel to trade shows as they now become available again.



 

We're thankful that some of our customers are now selling Dunitz & Company jewelry online. We always knew they'd have success. I think the downtime from Covid allowed many of our clients to grease up their websites. Did you know we have a store locator function on our websites? If we don't have a retailer in any given area, these websites will pop up as options to purchase our designs. [Note: To be listed on our store locator, you need to have purchased from us within 6 months.]

 

We're thankful for Etsy. Our sales on Etsy wouldn't support us. However, the retail business we've garnered during Covid lock down on this site has allowed us to cover some of those bills that never stopped coming in. If you have an Etsy shop and you're looking for expert help on how to boost your sales, we highly recommend Dave DeNard. Watch his YouTube videos and consider some of his virtual classes. Thank you, Dave.

 

 

 

 

We're thankful that more buyers are finding our retail site we fondly call Shop Dunitz. Seriously, we don't drive that much traffic to our retail site. And when we do, it makes us dance a little happy dance.

 

 

We're thankful for the colleagues and friends that allowed us to interview them during these crazy Covid times for our blog. It's hard to believe just how long this pandemic has been going on. It was way back in June 2020 that I interviewed Lindsay Woodruff of Pachamama Market. In February 2021 I featured designers that work in Guatemala including Anne Kelly (Mayan Hands), Caryn Maxim and Jennifer Webster (Mayamam Weavers) and Alison Havens (Yabal.) Yes, I shared my own stories too. In June 2021, I interviewed Elisha Chan, Executive Director of Fair Trade LA. Please check out these posts. Everyone had something worthwhile to say. If you think I should interview you, let me know know.

We're thankful for our fans and followers on Facebook and Instagram. We don't always know if you're watching.We definitely appreciate your likes and comments. Keep them coming. And post pics wearing your jewelry. We love being featured in Stories. We do have a few super fans. So to all of you, thank you.



 



Did I say November is for thank yous? I'm sure Dunitz & Company owes a bunch more thanks to a bunch more people than what I've shared above. In any case this is definitely a good start. These definitely have been tough times. And, I'm thankful for all the good I've shared and encountered during them. Stay well my friends and Thank You! 






The morning after completing this post, I was driving to meet a friend for breakfast. The car in front had the perfect license plate. It was as if the universe was speaking back at me. The light changed. I got stuck behind the red light as the perfect plate sped ahead. Phew, I was catching up again. And then a car scooted in front of me. Needless to say I was disappointed I didn't capture a photo. A bit later down the road, I was caught by another light. And there in the left turn lane was the car, with the perfect plate. Snap. Snap. It gets better. The reason I sometimes snap plates is because my niece posts a lot of "good ones" on her Instagram. You know, It's a way to connect with her. I didn't realize until I was actually texting her a pic of this plate later in the day, that the car ended up being under the sign "Rocco's." And then I knew the universe was also speaking to her. Rocco was her much beloved pit pull who passed away very recently. He was sending Thank yous from heaven. -ND

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Fair Trade Recipes for the Sweet Tooth

Most of you know I'm passionate about my fair trade jewelry business, Dunitz & Company. Did you know I also love baking? I often scour the internet for recipes that use fair trade ingredients or could use them. Perhaps you've seen Dunitz & Company's Pinterest Fair Trade Recipe board with some of my discoveries? More than anything, I have a sweet tooth. If you share my love of dessert, you might want to try some of these recipes.

 

I adore all things coconut. When I discovered this recipe from This Week for Dinner, I knew it had to go on the to-do list. As long as you have ingredients, you'll only spend about half an hour making a batch. You can easily use fair trade ingredients in the recipe. Chocolate. Cocoa Powder. Sugar. Vanilla. Even Coconut.




Still like things very chocolatey, but without the coconut? This recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen adds espresso. Don't eat these before you go to bed. I haven't baked these yet. And I think they'd be the perfect breakfast food. Fair Trade coffee is really easy to find. If you're reading this post, I'm assuming you already know that.




These fair trade Chocolate Mocha Brownies are a great way to eat something delicious and feel good about what your banking. You can use lots of fair trade ingredients with these. I discovered this recipe at Fair Trade Foundation based in United Kingdom. I'm always impressed by the support for fair trade in UK. Here at home, I still need to explain to many people what fair trade is. I think they're ahead of us here in UK.



 

So you want something sweet and crunchy while you huddle in front of the television? This recipe from Fair Trade Winds for spiced popcorn should do the trick. They even offer up resources for the olive oil (Serrv), spices (Frontier Co-op), sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners) and cocoa powder (Equal Exchange) you might choose to use.



Here's a surprise. I always opt for white chocolate over milk chocolate. That's why this recipe for Banana White Chocolate Brownies really appealed to me. Bananas allow these to be really chewy. And they are definitely for those of you who like things sweeeeeeet! The Glamorous Glutton, based in UK, was my source for these. Have you ever bought fair trade bananas before? Now when you see some in your local grocer, you can consider baking these.


Fair Trade Judaica offers up this Honey Cake recipe, perfect for the holidays. Think fair trade honey for this one.  African Bronze, a member of Fair Trade Federation comes to mind for a resource. I haven't made this recipe before. It is on my list. And I adore that it calls for raisins too. 




Salt in My Coffee, a blogger from Maine has a great recipe for gluten free peanut butter blossoms. She promotes fair trade with these cookies with using fair trade dark chocolate. YES! She also provides ideas for substitutions in the recipe. Prefer honey over sugar. You can do that. This is another recipe I haven't made before. I will try it soon. Want some?





Looking for a fabulous fair trade rug? check out Bunyaad. (They also sell Dunitz & Company jewelry in their retail store.) Since you're reading this blog post, you'll probably be most interested in their rice pudding recipe I recently discovered. This recipe is simple to make. Looking to serve a bit of the exotic from your kitchen? This is a Pakistani favorite.

 

 

 

 Sweets for breakfast? I love that Fair Trade Certified's mixed berry scones are made with.....drum roll....fair trade strawberries and blueberries.  And fairly sourced sugar too. On occasion, I've actually discovered fair trade berries at Costco. When I do, they go into my cart. Let me know if you try this recipe.





And finally, you need something yummy to wash this all down! StyleWise Blog provides a recipe for a fair trade ginger tea hot toddy. You can use fair trade tea and honey to make this one. I'm not entirely sure if you can find fair trade bourbon. If you find some let me know.



Now you have my list of 10 fabulous fair trade recipes to soothe your sweet tooth. Sometimes at Dunitz & Company, it's just fun to talk about something other than jewelry. If you have a favorite dessert where you use fair trade ingredients, I hope you will share it with me. I'm always game to bake something new. And don't forget to follow our Pinterest fair trade food & recipes board to get more ideas from us.-ND

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Showing Off Fair Trade Jewelry & Portrait Drawings

I've been having a pile of fun drawing these last several months. Did you see my blog post from May where I showed off my accomplishments from earlier this year? Lately I've been amusing myself by adding jewelry (yes, with the help of Photoshop), and transforming my pastel portrait beauties into Dunitz & Company jewelry models. I thought it would be fun to share some of my recent "work" here.

 

It's fun drawing people you love. And I adore my niece, Lauren.  She was quite flattered that I wanted to draw her.  At my request she submitted a few photographs that I could pick from.  After my initial sketch, I added Dunitz & Company's coral necklace and a pair of sparkling crystal studs. That worked for the Shop Dunitz Instagram



My pal Amy also was game to have me draw her. She also submitted a few snapshots for me to choose from.  My social post shows her wearing our embroidered fringe earrings. You too can add some Boho style to your wardrobe.




I have 8 nieces. That gives me lots of opportunity to draw young pretty women. I promise, Rena is not naked in the photo I used. She was wearing a very low cut dress at a wedding we both attended. And I liked her expression.  In the in-process drawing, she is modeling our small rectangle glass earrings and a matching pendant. Why not? That low cut dress left me a lot of space to add the pendant without interference. 

 

Lately I've been cutting out pics and advertisements from fashion magazines. I've named this woman "Fiction Girl" because somehow I envision her on the cover of a romance novel. Silly me. I decked her out in Dunitz & Company twice. Once wearing our long stick glass earrings. The second time with our embroidered flower pendant necklace. (This necklace design is currently available to our wholesale customers at www.dunitz.com and is not currently available on our retail site. That could change at any time though. Check out our Huipil Collection for all things embroidered.)


This lovely young woman reminds me of a Disney princess. Maybe it's the hair. She came from an Anthropologie email blast. Anthropologie has some amazing looking women modeling for them. And these days they've added many more models with varying ethnicity.  I added triangle shaped glass earrings in one image. And the other my favorite embroidered flower earrings, the same style as Amy above. 

 

Another pretty girl. This time the challenge was to master "yellow blonde hair." My girl with yellow hair is modeling one my newest embroidered earring designs. Fun, right? Click on through to snag your favorite one-of-a-kind pair. Or maybe for your gal pal who enjoys an ethnic aesthetic. 




For those of you that work in the fine jewelry and fashion industry, you might be familiar with In-Store Magazine. I'm on their mailing list. My girl with narrow nose was inspired by one of their cover models. I like their covers because there usually is a photo of an attractive woman that takes up the whole page. It allows me to really see the features and shadows. I decided to dress her up in a pair of our Van Gogh Almond Blossom Earrings. Chic and very affordable.


Honestly, I don't remember where I discovered this attractive model.  What I liked was the hand by her face which provided a new challenge for me. And a red tube top too! I decided this bare midriff woman should wear one of our worldy coin necklaces

 

 

 

I'm always looking for new challenges. And this Sports Illustrated swimsuit model did just that for me. A mostly naked body. An arm and hand. Hair that went on forever. Since her hair covers her ears, that wrist was the perfect opportunity to show off a Dunitz cuff bracelet. This design features embroidered butterflies and flowers on recycled denim.



Fondly called Watermelon Girl, (because for social I decked her out with one of our new fruit stud earring designs) was also an In-Store cover girl. I selected her because again, the image gave me a chance to draw some hands. I've been told this drawing is reminiscent of Modigliani's work. I take it as a compliment. Modigliani's women have really long faces. I'm assuming that is where the comparison comes from. (At the time of writing this, I have not listed my fruit designs on our retail site. They are however, available for wholesale.)


You've guessed it. As a newly minted portrait artist, I'm always looking for new challenges. This Anthropologie model tested my abilities in drawing hair. I think I was successful communicating her dreadlocks to paper. What do you think? And for fun, I dressed her up on some of our long skinny glass earrings.


 

And then there was this. A sweet angelic model, also from Anthropologie. To me she looks like some of the dolls I longed for when I was a tot. Such a sweet face deserved flowers for her ears. Since I adore Van Gogh, I added Almond Blossom Earrings. (I'm starting to see that I have some favorite designs. I seem to repeat styles that I attach to my social darlings.) The image on the right is true to my drawing. The social post on the left was lightened up quite a bit in Photoshop. This allowed her to look a lot more like a baby girl.

 

Sketch girl has been posted to IG & Facebook. However, at the time of writing this blog post, I have yet continued with or finished the drawing. This will be a Nancy project for this weekend.  If you want to see this drawing finished or watch me as I progress, do follow my personal IG account. I tend to be a bit of an over-sharer there. Just saying. This full lipped stunner comes from the pages of Sports Illustrated. And she is yes, wearing my favorite embroidered fringe earrings!




One final portrait I just wanted to share for good measure. I get some of my most pleasure from drawing people I'm fond of.  Working in fair trade, over the years, I've made many friends who are quite special to me. Nimet and Fatima are long time friends that no longer work in fair trade. However, that is how we met. And we're friends forever. I decided to draw them from a photo I snapped when visiting them in Canada several years ago. And then I mailed this gift on to them. I never decked them out in my jewelry for social. I do however, know I posted this pic on my personal Instagram feed. Since this portrait was not yet created when I shared many of my drawings here in May, (and I'm so proud of all my drawing accomplishments,) here it is for you to see.

So there you have it. As they say, I've killed two birds with one stone. I've shared my most recent portrait drawings. (You now know I love sharing them.) And it's given me an opportunity to show off Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry. Keep watching. I'm sure in a few months I'll be sharing another batch. Are you in? -ND

Friday, August 6, 2021

Your Ideas and Visions. On Our Fair Trade Jewelry.

Many of you know Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry made from recycled wood. What you might not know is we've been creating custom work for many of our retail partners. We have so much fun collaborating with them. Check out some of the projects we've worked on recently.

American Gothic Earrings
American Gothic Parody Earrings. I created this with the help of Photoshop and the input of Lou, the gift store buyer at Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. She knew these would be a great seller for their Parody exhibit this year.  I even used our fair trade face masks as inspiration. We did change out our typical flowers for corn stalks.





Heritage Square Museum Pins
Hale House at Heritage Square Museum is iconic.  We created pins of this wonderful Victorian house using the photos provided us. Museum goers and docents now proudly wear them. It seems most of the time I'm so excited about sending stores their orders, I forget to photograph the custom pieces. This pic was actually posted on Google by the museum. 

 

 

I'm crazy for fine art. Did you know I studied Art History at the University of Michigan? I'm sure the seeds planted by my education are what inspired me to create our Famous Paintings jewelry collection. This collection has sold incredibly well.  And museum stores everywhere offer them. What's been particularly exciting for me is when museums decide to feature art that is in their own collection. We've created several custom pieces for the Detroit Institute of Arts. Recently we put their own Van Gogh's on earrings and pins. Here are a few examples.

 

We adore these earrings. We collaborated with George Washington University's Textile Museum. These earrings feature details from pieces in their collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes it's about famous landmarks in a tourist town. Not to long ago we created a few custom designs for Mermaid in Elora. Yes, that's right. In Ontario, Canada.  This town is famous for their painted doors, Tooth of Time and the Elora Mill.  Here's a pic of the Elora Mill on earrings.




 

Got a sports team you're crazy about? Nittany Quill of State College, PA has been selling our jewelry for several years. This year they took a stab at creating earrings that showed off team spirit. Penn State is all about the Nittany Lion. And as fans like to say "We Are." Fun, right?






During Covid a sense of humor has been imperative. Dunitz & Company created some "Expressions Jewelry" recently. Our retail partner Grass Roots Fair Trade of Anckorage, AK figures if you say it with a bit of humor you can say just about anything. And clearly their customers agree. They've sold and sold these earrings we made just for them.






Peoria Riverfront Museum is having a wonderful exhibit through September 6, 2021 featuring none-else but the glorious T-Rex. They've sold our Famous Painting earrings well. But with T-Rex taking over, they needed to offer something a bit different for the crowds coming in. VoilĂ . We did it. I'm sure their docents are looking very adorable these days.





Zee Bee Market in St. Louis, MO has a host of giftables for locals and visiting tourists. Julio, Zee Bee's owner & I worked out some great designs using their beloved Fleur-de-lis symbol. He was so excited that we could carve out the shape of his great state, he decided to offer these cute dangles in both black and white. 

 

 

But what about flag of Missouri earrings? Zee Bee wanted to offer that as well. And if you like colorful, these are ideal. 

Are you getting the idea? If you're a store owner reading my blog, we can create some spiffy earrings appropriate for your area. And don't forget, these are all made with recycled Eucalyptus wood board and ethically made for us in Guatemala. 

 

Map Earrings from Dunitz
Last year I hunted for and found a couple of vintage Atlases with lots of very good maps. I then had samples made which I debuted at the wholesale trade shows. I showed dangles and studs. Rectangles and Hearts. Los Angeles. New York. Baltimore. And since then we've created map earrings for stores in big towns and small ones. We've shipped others to Buffalo, Coronado CA, Austin, Waco, Holland MI, Princeton NJ, Arlington, Crested Butte -> and the list goes on. 

 

Light House Earrings

And some times your town is so small, you can't be found clearly on the map. What do you do when your store is in Islesboro, ME?  You create studs featuring a lighthouse. We know The Dark Harbor Shop has great ice cream. We now know they also offer terrific earrings.

 

  

So there you have it. A mini display of Dunitz & Company fair trade custom earrings. What can we mastermind together for your store? -ND