Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fearless Fashion at the Skirball: Rudi Gernreich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pin Our Blog Post

Monday, June 17, 2019

Instagramers You Don't Know & Worth Following

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

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

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

Devi Speaks from the Heart
1. developingstyleblog

Matt to the Point
2. sustainablematt 

Wonderful Thrifted Finds
3. slow_fashion_finder 

Updated and Upcycled
4. nonewness 

Let's Help Clean Our Oceans
 5. ethicellie

Bonnie Promotes Natural Wellness
6. conscious.chica

Eco Tips & Suggestions
7. thewiseconsumer

Hates Plastic. Yes!
8. msatx.livesgreen

9. conscious_49   

Solutions to Using Less Plastic
10. lets_savetheplanet 

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

Terrific Museum.Terrific Museum Store. Bowers Museum.

Bowers Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

----end of interview---

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Fair Trade for Father's Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Hunting for Fair Trade Products at Costco

Yes, I'm all about fair trade. Obviously! So much of my time and energy is wrapped up with designing and marketing Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collection. But, I also think about fair trade when I'm making daily purchases.  And that's why on a recent trip to Costco Wholesale (in Burbank CA) to tank up with gasoline and buy some staples, I decided to investigate what fair trade products this big box store actually sells.

I've stumbled upon a few fair trade items at Costco in the past. I typically I post my finds on Instagram. But on this trip, I decided to delve deeper. I approached the service desk, you know, the one you usually see after you've checked out. I first spoke with a supervisor, who then turned me over to the manager on duty. Guess what? These guys didn't know about fair trade. After a mini-lesson, I suggested that they might keep a list, or suggest that their marketing department compile one. I left my card and started my hunt.

Dr. Bronner's Soap
I knew I'd purchased some Dr. Bronner's peppermint all-purpose  castile soap at Costco in the past. Now that's fair trade certified. (They're also members of Fair Trade Federation, right along with Dunitz & Company.) While scouting for the display, I started up a conversation with another staff member on the floor. She explained that Costco had been making huge strides in carrying "Organic" products. (This absolutely became clear to me as I studied their endless aisles.) She also thought that some other locations might carry a few more fair trade items than I discovered based on consumer demand. But seriously folks, Burbank is surrounded by many affluent neighborhoods. Let's put the pressure on!

Kirkland House Blend
Let's talk coffee. Even if they don't purchase it, just about everyone has heard of fair trade coffee. And this is why I'm pleased to report that Costco's private label, Kirkland offers a fair trade certified house blend. I've actually been buying it and drinking it for a long time. This medium roast offering is quite good. But before this trip, I'd never taken the time to examine all of  their other options. Costco offers designer brands such as Starbucks and Peet's. And yes, they also sell Folgers and Jose's among others. And sadly no other coffee options offered at Costco is fair trade. I guess that's supply and demand at work. Shame on Starbucks and Peet's. I know they sell fair trade coffee at their corner shops.

Lots of Fair Trade Tomatoes
Costco earns an A, well maybe a B+ when it comes to tomatoes. Out of 4 varieties of tomatoes being sold, 3 of them were fair trade certified. Hooray! Campari. Hot House. A designer medley of what looks like small heirlooms. All these were being imported from Mexico.

Harmless Coconut Water
It wasn't easy finding more fair trade offerings. But, I kept on keeping on. And, of several coconut (everything) options sold at Costco, I found one that was fair trade certified. Coconut everything is right on trend. Everyone seems to be consuming it in one form or another. I discovered lots of coconut products while hunting at Costco.  One brand of coconut water, Harmless Harvest proudly showed off their Fair for Life emblem.

Acai The Original
Looked and looked for more fair trade drinks. Truth is, I found lots of certified organic ones. And only one other with Fair for Life certification. Acai Amazon Superfood Juice from Sambazon. Seems Costco sells several products produced by Sambazon. The others I found were certified organic, but without a fair trade label. But heck, I say go for it, if you like this stuff. Maybe I need to buy some on my next trip to Costco and give it a taste.

Honest Tea

Before embarking on this trip, I went online to see if I could find any articles about Costco and the fair trade items they sell. I swear, I did my homework. I actually came up with two things (yes, only two) I wanted to see in person when I arrived. And then I couldn't find them. Before I started walking the aisles, I asked the store manager about Honest Tea. Evidently, Honest Tea uses fair trade certified tea leaves and sugar cane. Costco advertises that they sell it at their Business Centers. It was not sold at my local Costco. Who knows? Maybe some of their other larger stores carry it. Do you want to buy it as your local Costco? Start asking for it.

Good Farms Strawberries
Finally, in advance of my trip, I had read that Costco carried fair trade strawberries and other berries supplied by Driscoll's. I'd even seen photos online with Driscoll's containers featuring fair trade certified labels. Evidently a small but growing portion of what they sell is fair trade certified. I found stacks of Driscoll's containers at Costco. Sadly none of them had fair trade labeling.  I did however, discover something I'd never seen before.  Costco had strawberries from a company, Good Farms which featured an Equitable Food Initiative label "Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured." Wow. That was a new one for me. I had to look it up. Evidently EFI certifies farms throughout North America based on rigorous standards for labor practices, food safety and  pest management. Looks like I'll support Good Farms next time I visit Costco.

So, there you have it. Now you too can discover, and purchase these fair trade items at your local Costco. Vote with your dollars. By favoring and purchasing their fair trade products, perhaps they'll offer others. Let them know you want more options. Get online and "chat" with their support staff. Or send Costco customer service a letter. They don't seem to have email support.

Just so you know, Costco does have a page on their website explaining efforts they are making in traceability and sustainability for their Kirkland Signature brand.  It sure looks good and sounds good. For my post though, I wanted to find merchandise with attached fair trade labeling we recognize.

Want to know more about the various organizations that certify products? Fair World Project, a group that advocates for small producers has a helpful guide on their website. I recommend you check it out.

If you discover other fair trade items at Costco, please let me know. I might want to try them out. And I will certainly share your discovery here. Consider sharing my blog on social media. You can even hover over our pin design at the right (if you are on a computer and not an iPad) and easily share it on Pinterest. -ND

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