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 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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Eco-Conscious Business Owners Make A Difference

I like to think I think about the environment when I'm making every-day choices in the Dunitz & Company office. I confess, I do have plastic zip-lock bags in the office.  I also use them over and over and over again for storing and organizing jewelry. Anything and everything I receive in parcels is re-used when I package the ones I send. (I sure hope some of my clients aren't offended by our use of some nasty boxes.) Recently I was thinking there must be other simple things I might do in my office that would reduce the Dunitz & Company carbon footprint.

I emailed my colleagues at Fair Trade Federation and other trade show neighbors. I sent a blast out to the Museum Store Association membership. I posted on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.

I asked: Do you make eco-conscious choices when running your day to day business operations? Is there something you do, that others could easily incorporate? I'd love to share your simple ideas in a blog I'm going to write. How can we make small changes that help our environment and reduce our carbon footprint. You don't need to write a lengthy response. It could be as simple as not buying packing peanuts, but sourcing them on Craigslist so they don't go to landfill. Or you only use cloth napkins in your office instead of buying paper towels. I'd love to hear from you.

Here are the responses I received. Some are simple. Some are WOW, this company really goes the mile. And you'll see, how some behaviors (ie. recycling packing materials) seem to repeat themselves from office to office.

Jenn Roberge, dZi Handmade: "At dZi, one of the many things we try to do is print on both sides of paper. If we do have a paper that has only been printed on one side, we recycle that paper for our co-worker, Sean to use for internal projects." 


Seema Bawa, Trovelore: " 90% of the boxes and packing material that comes into my home and office in any shape of form are re-used for shipping out Trovelore orders.  I rarely ever buy new packing materials. I always make sure that boxes are the right size. I hate it when I receive a small little something in a large box filled with excessive amounts of paper, bubble wrap or foam, even when the contents are not breakable.  I print all of my shipping labels on the clean side of used sheets of paper. I reuse all the paper from my kid's school projects where only one side of the paper has printing. Everyone knows to put paper in the "reuse" drawer. We don't print anything except for packing lists. We haven't printed a catalog since 2018. Our clients can see everything online."


Dave Debikey, Global Gifts, Bloomington: "We recycle as much as we can here at Global Gifts. What the recycling service doesn't take, I take home and put in my household recycling. Seriously! All of that plastic wrap and little bags that product comes packaged with is no longer accepted by the city or the district (Bloomington, IN) for recycling, so I take it all to the local Krogers, the only place collecting that plastic for recycling and repurposing. We also compost our coffee grounds and food waste. Compost collects in sealed jars and then goes into my compost bin at home for my garden.  Some years ago, we switched all our lighting to LED. It was a big upfront investment, but we're not constantly replacing light bulbs now or consuming as much electricity. With Covid, we were doing a lot more surface cleaning, multiple times a day. We began collecting rags for cleaning to avoid using a lot of paper towels. We source sanitizer from our local distillery, Cardinal Spirits. Finally, we recently decided to change our store supply sourcing for toilet paper and tissues. We now purchase from Who Gives A Crap. Their products are made from 100% bamboo and come without plastic packaging. They also give proceeds to provide toilets for people who need them."


Nina Moukova, Seeds to Sew: "We always use plates, glasses and silverware that we wash and always refuse the plastic stuff. We us cloth towels by the sink and wash them. We accept donations of jewelry boxes and have our volunteers rebrand them with our logo. We offer them as free gift boxes and our customers love them. Oh, and we haven't bought a shipping box or envelope in over a year. We accept donations of used shipping boxes and padded envelopes from everyone. If there is a label to be covered, our volunteers glue a piece of brown paper over it and they're good as new. Nobody has ever complained, actually quite the opposite."

Krista Bermeo, Krista Bermeo Studio: "I get most all of my bubble wrap from local buyers (retail stores) as it comes in from other vendors. It sure makes me wonder how many times the wrap has criss-crossed the country (or globe.)"


Karen Sparacio, Project Have Hope: "One way that we try to reduce our environmental impact is to reuse all shipping material, including boxes, cardboard inserts, paper stuffing and peanuts."


Joan Rasch, Sevya: "We've made lots of the eco-conscious choices we've made in our US and India office/warehouse. We use biodegradable plastic bags for our product packaging. We recycle all the paper we can for packaging orders and printing. Each staff person brings their own hand towels from home and launders them, rather than using paper towels. Reusable glasses and mugs are used for drinking water and other beverages including lots of  Chai tea!  And like so many other people, we recycle all of the cardboard boxes from our shipments that come in from India."


 Kelsey Neale, Latitudes Fair Trade: "We recycle all of the packaging that come in with the orders we receive. Our local UPS store even recycles packing materials. Sometimes if we have too much, instead of taking it to the recycle center, we will drive it down the road to the UPS store for them to re-use. We re-use sturdy paper and bubble wrap we receive in our orders when we are packing up fragile items for our customers. We get much more than we need and probably drop off 10-20 bags of paper and plastic packaging at the recycle center twice a month."


Anne Kelly, Mayan Hands: "We're really passionate about this. We ship a lot, packages of all different sizes. We are always scrounging for boxes to reuse - and laugh at how excited we get about finding really good ones. Our cars have boxes of all sizes and shapes in them. I guess others have noticed, since now our friends and neighbors drop off boxes. We always go to the 'odd box table' first before using a new box. Our shipments from Guatemala arrive wrapped in plastic to protect the contents and we reuse every scrap, along with any paper that they include. When we do have to purchase packaging, we seek packing materials with recycled content. We're glad to see there are more options for purchasing packaging materials with recycled content than even a few years ago. We're equally concerned about eco-conscious choices in the office and are eager to learn new ideas from others that will share your your blog post."


Jennifer Webster, Mayamam Weavers: "We try our best to be eco-conscious in our packaging - and we leave the plastic behind. For wholesale orders, we reuse boxes and packaging and add a recycle sticker on it. For retail orders, we line our boxes with one sheet of red tissue and a sticker and ship in a cardboard box. We don't include packing lists or paper receipts unless someone requests that since all the pertinent information has already been shared digitally. We try to find a balance between beautiful and avoiding waste. We want our products to arrive looking like a gift even to the person who purchased it themselves. If anyone orders gift wrapping, we wrap the shipping box in red paper and a ribbon, then slip it into a compostable shipping sleeve."


 Cael Chappell, Baskets of Africa"We do lots of things. We switched to all LED lighting. We participate in a wind energy program at our power company. We only use brown recycled boxes for shipping. (We never use bleached white ones which are quite toxic to produce.) We pay extra for the UPS Carbon Neutral shipping program. We recycle all paper and cardboard that can't be reused. We reuse any packing materials that come to us that we can. Believe it or not, our of our 7200 square foot warehouse/store/office, we product less than a bag of garbage per week. We buy compostable corn plastic utensils for when we can't use metal. And we recently quadrupled our insulation in our warehouse ceiling to conserve heating/cooling electric and water use.


Recycling Tips
It was a delight to hear from so many of my colleagues about what they do in their offices to help make ours a better world. Did I learn a few things that I will adopt as new behaviors at Dunitz & Company? One thing I definitely could do a better job at is saving and printing on reverse sides of used paper. I'm going to work on that. What changes will you make? -ND 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Meet Elisha Chan, Fair Trader & Executive Director of Fair Trade Los Angeles

Elisha & Me at FTLA event
Dunitz & Company has been a member of Fair Trade Los Angeles for many years. And it is through this organization that I first met Elisha Chan. Elisha is a 'superwoman'. She operates her own business, Elisha C. working with artisans in Haiti. And she is the Executive Director at Fair Trade LA. I'm impressed that she can juggle all these responsibilities. I wanted to learn how she does it. She agreed to be interviewed by me. Keep reading to hear what she had to say. 




NANCY:  Can you tell me what inspired you to get involved with fair trade? Was there a pivotal event in your life that encouraged you to work with artisans in Haiti?

Haitian Artisan Products
ELISHA: I started going to Haiti the summer of my sophomore year at UCLA. But it wasn't until my seventh trip to a small village, Fond Doux, that I came back with a newfound passion to end poverty. I felt a sense of responsibility to do something about the extreme poverty I saw and the suffering of the Haitian people that soon became my family. I wanted to find a sustainable, lasting, long-term solution to break the cycle of poverty. I believe if I can bring economic stability to one family in one community, perhaps I can impact a whole nation. That is when I realized that job creation is the key to ending poverty. I took my first "business" trip while I was still a student and found beautiful handmade products, as well as award winning coffee that no one knew about. That is when I started my fair trade journey working with Haitian artisans to bring their products to the global marketplace.

NANCY: Tell me a little bit about the work you do in Haiti. Is there a type of product you specialize in?


Haitian Producers
When I first found my passion to end poverty through job creation, I had no idea what resources Haiti had or what they were producing there. I thought my role was to create a workshop in Haiti and work on product development myself.  But after discovering so many artisanal products, including coffee, chocolate, jewelry, home goods, leather goods, and more, I realized that the real need was to bring these products to the marketplace. The Haitian people were already creating beautiful products, but there was a gap in marketing and storytelling.  I couldn't pick one type of product to specialize in. I was so proud of their work that I wanted the world to know all about what Haitians were capable of producing. I now work with over ten different artisan partners and have created an online marketplace of a wide range of products. We offer something for everyone.

NANCY: This is a bit random. Can you tell me why you chose the name Elisha C. for your business?  (When I started my own business, I didn't know exactly what I would end up selling or specializing in. This is part of the reason I chose my name, as my business name. I've actually written a blog post about it.)

ELISHA: To be completely honest with you, I don't like coming up with names. It stresses me out. When I first came up with this business idea, I knew that I did not want this to be seen simply as a "cause" or a charity. I have seen great quality products made in Haiti that are marketed as a charity project due to the lack of marketing resources. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to create an ethical brand that elevated the products, told the stories of the makers, and showcased the quality, not just the cause. I chose to name the company, Elisha C. in hopes that it would change the perception from a cause business to an ethical brand. 

NANCY: Is there something you feel particularly good about when you think about your work in Haiti. An accomplishment? A life you changed?

ELISHA: Changed lives, that is what is really about.  I never want to lose touch with the people we are impacting, because they are the reason why I am doing what I do. Through my small business, we've been able to give back towards breaking the cycle of poverty. We've helped local families start their own small businesses. We've given out over 300 scholarships to send students to school in their small village. From preschool to university, I've seen students excel in school who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to even attend. We've sent students to the big cities and have given them a once in a lifetime opportunity to graduate from a university. This changes their lives forever. Nurses, teachers, principals, businessmen, we are rising up future leaders for Haiti and putting Haiti in the hands of Haitians.

NANCY: How did you learn of Fair Trade Los Angeles and get involved with this group? Can you tell me a bit about Fair Trade LA?

ELISHA: When you follow your passion, you never know where it will lead you.  As I launched out to navigate my new business idea, Nataly Garcia, a friend from UCLA told me about a nonprofit called Fair Trade Los Angeles. She recommended that I check out their meetings that were then held at USC (University of Southern California). So, I did. It was so encouraging, especially during my beginning stages (of my business) to find a community in Los Angeles that was passionate about the same things as me.  Fair Trade LA is an educational nonprofit that is educating consumers about Fair Trade as a solution to fighting labor trafficking by ensuring the makers behind everything we buy are paid a fair and living wage. Fair Trade is a way to bring about social justice through the way we shop every day. I thought if we wanted to support job creations for artisans, I also needed to inspire consumers to buy products that are making real life impact. I knew I wanted to get involved with Fair Trade LA because I wanted to take what I learned from my experiences in Haiti and also impact developing communities all around the world.

NANCY: You took over as Executive Director of Fair Trade LA in 2018.  Is there an accomplishment during your tenure you're most proud of? What are the most important missions of this group?

ELISHA: Fair Trade LA's mission is to educate and inspire consumers to embrace Fair Trade products so global farmers and artisans have the opportunity to earn a fair and sustainable living. Since I stepped into the role of Executive Director, my main goal was to grow the Fair Trade movement by increasing the accessibility to Fair Trade products and educating more consumers about the impact of Fair Trade. And we have definitely seen that happen! Now Fair Trade products can be found not just in specialty grocery stores but also in all the major grocery stores. Our biggest accomplishment actually happened during 2020. After many years of hard work and the sacrifice of many selfless individuals, Los Angeles officially became the largest Fair Trade City in the USA and North America. In fact, LA is now the fourth largest in the world. In August 2020, with the help of our champion, Council member Paul Koretz, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to pass the Fair Trade Resolution declaring Los Angeles a Fair Trade City and declaring every second Saturday of May going forward "World Fair Trade Day."  Yet, our work has just begun. We much continue to our work because labor trafficking is still prevalent all around us.

NANCY: Do you have any pearls to share about time management? You must personally do the work of 3 people in order to operate your business and oversea the activities of Fair Trade LA. How do you juggle all that you do?

ELISHA: I am not sure I have the formula figured out. And the reality is, there probably is no perfect formula. When you are trying to make life better for people, you just do what it takes. I'll share two things I've learned on my journey. One, work never ends. I used to be a workaholic, working late nights with no boundaries, because I was passionate about what I do. And then I realized that work is endless, there will always be more work to do. Instead of chasing everything I think I need to do quickly, I've become better at prioritizing the things that seem most important. Two, I've learned that we need community. It is not possible to change the world by ourselves. We need each other. There is an old African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." I've learned to collaborate and work with others, even it it means going slower. When you can grow as a community, you definitely can go much further.

NANCY: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Elisha Chan
ELISHA: My hope is that my story will inspire someone else to step out into the unknowns and pursue their hearts desire to make this world a better place. No one person can change the world. We need everyone to do their part to actually see change. If you see a need in the world, maybe you are the one that is supposed to do something about it. One of my favorite quotes comes from Mother Teresa. "I alone cannot change this world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." I hope this interview will give someone the courage to rise up and answer the call in their heart.

# end of interview #   


I hope you have been inspired by Elisha's story. You all know how passionate I am about fair trade and the work I do at Dunitz & Company. Through equitable production of our fair trade jewelry, we make a difference in lives. I've enjoyed getting to know Elisha a bit more, learning about her passion and how she has enacted change for so many artisans and producers in Haiti. And she sure does an awesome job managing the activities of Fair Trade LA. I am so appreciative of all she does. -ND

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Portrait Drawing | Fair Trade Jewelry | Seal's Facebook | Family & Friends

I've been drawing. And sometimes my portraits include pieces of Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. Other times they don't. Each subject has taken on a special meaning for me. The time spent with all of the pastel pencils I've amassed, feeds my soul. It took Covid-19 isolation to prompt me to embrace this new activity. The joy it has given me is immeasurable.

I wanted to share my recent drawing accomplishments. For this blog post, I'll start with my most recent, and work my way backwards. The stories behind some of the photos are extraordinary. If you want to see more details of any of my work, I suggest you follow my personal Instagram account. There I proudly share my artwork.

South African Mother

Serendipity. I tend to blare my music when I draw. Most recently I blast Seal's music. I adore his voice and sound. I actually follow him on Facebook. It is so random that I actually responded to a photo he posted recently. I definitely do not typically comment on celebrity profiles. In this case he mentioned 'music is the medicine of the soul.' I agreed and posted my recent drawing of a Guatemalan artisan. What I received was a handful of likes from Seal's followers and an message from a young woman in South Africa. She asked if  I could draw her mom and what would it cost? I learned that she and her extended family only had one blurry photo of her mom. Seriously. There was no question I wanted take a stab at drawing her mom who had passed away several years ago. I also knew that I'd be mailing this to her, a gift.


Young Girl

 I have friends and family that are very private and don't interact with social media. This always surprises me because it seems everyone is over-connected and over-sharing on social media. (Guilty!) These people don't want pics of their babies or children seen anywhere. Their view, and I get it, is those children when they are 18, they can decide what should be seen.  This drawing is my first portrait of a child. She will remain nameless until she decides you should know who I attempted to draw.

Basket Weaving Artist

If you are reading this, it means you might also read some of my other blog posts. One of my recent posts interviewed Fair Trade Federation designers who work in Guatemala. If you didn't read it, you can here. One of the designers, Anne Kelly works with Mayan Hands. She provided me a wonderful photograph of, Cecilia, a woman who creates woven baskets. This is the portrait I drew from that photo. This is the image I shared on Seal's Facebook feed...the one I commented about above.





Family is so important. And during Covid-19 isolation, I've been missing mine.  I'm sure you have been missing yours too, yes? I asked my sister-in-law to snap a pic of my brother and email it to me. And then I grabbed my pastel pencils and got to work. It actually looks a lot like him :)! Do you think he'll have it framed when I actually see him and give him this gift?


Self Portrait

I stood in the bathroom and snapped my photo in the mirror. There were so many shadows. And I thought, "Oh that will be a fun thing to attempt." I think it looks a lot like me. My hair which was quite short over a year ago is now very very long. My friends don't find this portrait an attractive rendition of me. This portrait wasn't about beauty. It was about drawing what I saw. 

I've known Ana since 1986. She cleans at my house. She cooks and plants chili in my garden. When she is at my home it's one of those 'my house is your house' kind of things. Her sons used to go on hikes with me when they were young. Now, they're grown men. Sometimes Ana comes to my office. And Ana organizes and cleans like I will never do for myself. She is family. With her permission recently, I snapped her photo and drew her. I gave her this drawing after I completed it. I know she was flattered I took time to create it.


My eldest niece Helen and I have the best time together. We can chat endlessly on the phone. She's a fine artist and loves to travel. In fact, the photo I used for inspiration was one I snapped when we were traveling in Laos together. She's a bit of an earth girl like her Auntie Nancy. Neither of us have pierced ears. (Don't ask.)  But for the purpose of this drawing, I decided she should be wearing a pair of Dunitz & Company fair trade glass stud earrings.

Alicia and her son

Alicia's son is now 15. My drawing was modeled after a photo I took in Guatemala many years ago. Alicia is the lead artist in our bead workshop. She manages the women who bead and teaches them new techniques and shows them how to create our designs. Every drawing presents new challenges. And this one certainly did.  A baby. A traditional blouse. I'm thrilled with each new challenge I take on.

Alexx models Dunitz jewelry

Pre-Covid I would meet up with lovely women and snap photos of them wearing Dunitz fair trade jewelry. The Hollywood Bowl is one of our favorite locations to do this.  It's amazing how I've learned to recycle model photographs from the last several years during these looooong coronavirus months and months.  Alexx Calise, a professional musician has modeled for me several times. Recently I took a stab at drawing a model photo I previously snapped. I think it resembles her. And she agreed. She's wearing one of our fused glass bib necklaces.

Surunda and I met back in the very early 1990's. She is one of two women who first taught Mayan women how to bead. We collaborated together soon after we met and created a collection of beaded jewelry for me to exhibit and wholesale to stores in the US. You can only imagine what a huge impact she's had on my life. And me hers. We've designed and orchestrated unique collections twice a year ever since. Can you imagine? 

Yes. That Joe.

I just had to see if I could do a quickie sketch from a magazine pic I discovered. I didn't spend much time with this one. I was relieved when just about everyone who saw it...knew who it was. Nuff said.

Laughing Jocelyn

While on Covid lock down, I asked my niece Jocelyn, who lives in Michigan, if she might take some pics wearing Dunitz & Company jewelry. She graciously agreed and recruited one of her sisters to join in on the fun. The pics they provided me proved they had some fun. My challenge here was to draw my niece laughing. I'd never drawn a toothy smile. BTW, she is wearing Dunitz & Company embroidered earrings.


This is from that same Michigan fashion shoot. Risa was wearing a pair of our eco-friendly Van Gogh Sunflower earrings. Out came the colored pencils, pastel pencils and charcoal. I rather love this drawing. When you don't have model shots, draw portraits. And then use them on social media feeds. And blog about it!

First Portrait, Early February

Early February 2021, I decided to draw. I'd been thinking about drawing for a really long time. In early 2020, I purchased a lot of pencils and various paper. An art easel that was purchased for me by my parents when I was young and was largely unused came out of storage. And then all of that sat in my guest bedroom until early February 2021. I took one of those fashion shoot photos my nieces snapped in Michigan and started to sketch. If you read this blog backwards, you'll see just how far my drawing has come. I think I've improved quite a bit for this first drawing of Jocelyn. If you really want to see what the earrings she is wearing look like, click here.

Day of the Dead Self Portrait

How it really started? In October 2019 I signed up for an intensive 5 day drawing class with artist, Isis Rodriguez in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Maestro Isis used to teach at the University of Kansas. And now, Mexico is her home. She teaches both drawing and painting. The session I signed up for was taught during Day of the Dead week. You can only imagine how fun that was in San Miguel. Decorations. Colors. Parades. In this case we watched a makeup demonstration and then painted ourselves. What do you think of my self portrait?

My very 1st Portrait

And this is where it all began. Prior to my workshop with Maestro Isis, I hadn't had any formal drawing instruction. During the first day of class in Isis Rodriguez's studio, we drew from this model. She was a beautiful indigenous woman wearing a Guatemalan huipil and a family heirloom headdress. The feedback was to keep going. Keep going. Isis helped with the skull on the headdress. That definitely wasn't perfected by me. The rest was drawn by me over most of two days. Seriously. Considering this is my very first portrait, I'm rather proud of it.

As I type this, it's May 12, 2021. I've experienced so much joy drawing these last few months, I wanted to share with the world that joy. I've enjoyed drawing people I know, and some I don't. When I can add a touch of Dunitz & Company, that makes me happy too. Making serendipitous connections through Facebook celebrity pages, that's a hoot. What's next? Maybe you. -ND