Wednesday, October 14, 2015

360° Fair Trade - Fair Trade Federation Messaging

Dunitz is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation.  We are part of a this group where each member company is deeply committed to fair trade.  Each company is rigorously screened from top to bottom before admittance.
It is awesome that more and more people are cognizant of how and where things are made or at least have an interest in how and where things are made. The phrase "fair trade" sound good.  I've found that at the wholesale trade shows just about every company importing form third world countries is now describing themselves as "fair trade."  I'm not even sure if many of these people spouting the term even know what it means.  In a competitive world, this has been challenging for Fair Trade Federation members who want to differentiate themselves from those that have not been screened for their business practices.
Fair Trade Federation has new messaging we hope will communicate to our customers (whether they be stores or end users of our offerings) our strong desire to build meaningful, trusting relationships with our producers and to act as good global citizens through all of our work - socially, economically and environmentally.  The concept of 360° (degrees) Fair Trade is meant to express our desire to go beyond fair trade basics. We practice 360° Fair Trade which means we take a more holistic approach than only looking at wages and work conditions.  We partner with artisans (and farmers) and make long-term commitments to help grow businesses and strengthen communities. (Dunitz has worked with the same community of beaders for over 25 years!) 
Next time someone tells you they run a fair trade business, question them.  Ask them if they are a member of Fair Trade Federation.  Ask them to tell you about their 360 Fair Trade practices.  I'm certain any of my FTF colleagues would be happy to share stories of their work and the artisans (and farmers) they support. - ND

Friday, September 4, 2015

When You See What I Don't See...

Dream Catcher Necklace - SKU: CL7SP
When you see what I don't see, I learn all sorts of things.  When designing the Fall 2015 collections, I took into account that many clothing designers were using lots of fringe EVERYWHERE.  Fringe Skirts. Fringe Vests. Fringe Handbags.  Of course I've designed many things with fringe in the past.  But, it had been some time.  So, for this season, I specifically set out to create some necklaces and lots of earrings with fringe.  When I 'm working on new designs, I go into a bit of a trance mode.  So, in this case - the result was...well spiritual.  I didn't see what all of my customers saw.  I didn't see it until over and over and over everyone repeated the same thing.  This new necklace looks like a "dream catcher".  Those new earrings look like a "dream catcher".   The result has been spectacular.  It seems our customers have been mesmerized by these designs. Thank you all. -ND

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sharing Beauty

We recently staged a photo shoot with several of our artisans. Many of the women wore their favorite huipils (traditional blouses.)  These blouses are quite expensive and although they differ from town to town, they are created with beautiful weaving and embroidery.  These pieces of clothing far exceed our simply colored collared shirts and sweaters.
For this particular exercise, the women modeled some of my favorite pieces which are designed in sophisticated colors with vintage buttons and coins.  Here in the US,  women typically don these pieces on neutral black and beige. I was surprised just how stunning these pieces look on bright traditional Guatemala clothing.  What do you think?  Does seeing these on vibrant clothing make you rethink how you might put together your own wardrobe? - ND

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thank You - Goes a Long Way!

A few days ago I was determined to write & send out an email blast to our wholesale customers.  I was struggling with what to say.  Sometimes we have trade shows coming up.  Or new designs to brag about.  What came to me was "Thank you" - a big "Thank you."  I decided to acknowledge all the people and groups that make Dunitz... Dunitz.  I thanked my customers. I thanked our artisans. I thanked the press, my mascots, Fair Trade Federation and trade show organizers. I thanked everyone!
Guess what?  This email blast was opened by more recipients than any other I've sent recently.  When looking at statistics, it appears between 10-20% more people read my "Thank you".  That was my boomerang Thank you.  I'm still smiling. - ND

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dimensional Weight the Newest Challenge

I've had a challenge with shipping lately.  Our UPS bill has been coming in every week with surcharges we're being assessed for "dimensional weight." No longer is a one pound box one pound. It's most likely 2 or 3 or 6.  You know those measurements on the bottom of boxes? According to UPS, they're WRONG!  They tell us that those are the interior dimensions & not what shipping costs are based on.  Starting this year, UPS is charging by size before weight.  Their representatives insist FEDEX has been doing this for the past twelve months. Since my business does not use FEDEX as a regular carrier, I wouldn't have known this.  You say the Post Office is cheaper?  It can be.  But definitely not always. Sometimes the difference is minimal.  Sometimes it is significant.  Very light boxes sent to a residence are almost always cheaper through the Post Office.  Very heavy "one rate" boxes are also a bargain through the Post Office.  Other sizes and weights often cost less through UPS or FEDEX.  Perhaps there is a special software that evaluates which is most economical given the size, weight, destination and location status (residential vs business).  It is definitely something I need to look into. But when you run a small business without a big shipping department, it is almost impossible to have the time to evaluate each parcel on its own merit.
One more thing I learned today....from my UPS representative.  Throw out the rules of math you learned as a kid.  In school, I learned you rounded down from .4 and up above .5 - so 12.4 was  rounded down to12.  And 12.5 was rounded up to 13.  UPS rounds everything UP.  So, 12.1 is 13. 12.4 is 13.  So - back to those boxes.  A box printed on the bottom 14x8x8.  You know how they aren't always glued perfectly.  The box I measured today was 14.1x8.2x8.5 - so for UPS - that is a 15x9x9 box.  Is there any leeway in their machinery calibration? I have no idea. But looking at UPS software - 14x8x8 will always ship at 6 pounds or more.  14x9x9 will always ship at 7 pounds or more. 15x9x9 will always ship at 8 pounds or more.
When you question shipping charges - do remember these tidbits we learned today. They might provide some answers if not solutions. -ND

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trade Show Challenges - Part#1

Scheduling our trade show attendance is always a challenge.  We like to be consistent.  We know especially with jewelry, store owners need to see and touch our offerings so they can make their choices.  Our clients must see us at the trade shows. We choose to do the same shows over and over again …when we can.
Unfortunately it is impossible for us to be in two places at the same time.  And often trade show producers schedule shows at the same time.  Date conflicts started happening with the New York Now (aka New York Gift Show) and the Las Vegas WWIN & Magic shows a few years back. Given the choice we opted for NY.  NY Gift has always been our strongest show. We lost our WWIN location.  During one of these seasons, we opted to add San Francisco Gift to our schedule. (It had been off our radar for a few years.)  Turns out when Magic/WWIN is not conflicting with NY Gift, it is conflicting with San Francisco. Once back at the SF show, we stayed. 
Regional shows are important to us. Dunitz consistently exhibits at Chicago Windy City Gift, (Windy City Gift which has now taken place three times. Dunitz has been there twice. Previously we were seen at the now defunct Merchandise Mart show.), San Francisco Gift, Los Angeles Gift and Boston Gift shows.  In fact, these shows are now all owned by the same trade show operator, Urban Expositions. When we are consistent, our steady customers see us time and time again and almost always in the same spot.  Autopilot!  Guess what? It isn’t.  Even though Urban Expositions owns all of these regional shows, they often have their shows conflict with one another.  Last season we had to opt for Chicago over Los Angeles because both shows were staged the same weekend.  It was a close call, but next season we’ll be in Chicago over San Francisco….and unfortunately NOT in the same spot by the bathrooms :(.  As an exhibitor – these choices are quite challenging.   The Chicago team was expecting us to sign summer contracts by February 10th.  How could we do this when we hadn’t been able to evaluate the San Francisco show which only concluded two days ago?  Chicago management had indicated they would accommodate Dunitz by holding our space until the SF show concluded. Since we do so many Urban Exposition owned shows we believed they would give us the time to make the best decision for us.  When we notified them yesterday we decided to return to Chicago, we learned they gave our booth to another exhibitor.  Again – we won’t be by the bathrooms. We’re not sure where we’ll be as of this writing.
The point of this rant is to let you, our store buyers know we always do our best.  We try to be consistent so you can find us time and time again.  Unfortunately it is beyond our control to always be consistent.  Well – Lucky Los Angelinos.  It looks like you’ll see us this summer since – the LA Gift Show does not conflict with Chicago. - ND

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Handmade Stuff Takes A Lot of Time - Seriously!

Every season I struggle with my new designs & pricing.  I struggle with what my artisans need to earn to be paid fairly for their time. I struggle with the prices I will charge so that Dunitz (that's me) can earn fair margins. And I struggle with perceived value of our merchandise.  These things are very often not in synch.
Our artisan made jewelry designs can take hours and hours to create.  So often our customers don't take this into consideration.  They think in terms of precious metals and gem stones. 
This season, we worked out a new technique combining macrame with seed beads.  We've never done this or seen it from other designers. Of course we see macrame work.  We have been creating wonderful designs with macrame for years.  But combining macrame with seed beads IS something new!  Beading needles don't fit on macrame thread.  Conventional needles cannot accommodate seed beads.  With a lot of effort on the part of our artisans we created a new look.  We call these new components our "Macrame Suns". This season you'll see them in different sizes.  And - you'll also see our "Half Sun".  For now, I wanted to share some information about just how long it takes to make - something that looks rather small.
Our "Macrame Sun" earrings are as cute as can be.  And - we will be showing them in twelve different colors.  Each sun takes 1-1/2 hours to make.  That means these earrings take one artisan three (3) hours.  This does not include the threads, Czech & Japanese seed beads and crystals. We use surgical steel ear wires.   What would you pay for something that is beautiful, takes three hours and is made from
the finest glass beads available today? -ND