Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

Do any of us do this enough? Giving Thanks. Today is the day I hope most of you are with friends and family, those you love and care about the most, and them you in turn. I'll be with my brother's family. But in a Thanksgiving tradition, he & I will go to the movies for some "us" time before heading to our big dinner. This morning I will make an old family recipe, cranberry pie. It was my grandfather's (mom's side) favorite! I'm thankful that I have loved ones that will enjoy eating the pies. I'm thankful I won't be polishing them off solo.
Today is also a great to day to say "Thank you" to readers of this blog. If you are reading this, you've most likely sold Dunitz & Company's fair trade and handmade jewelry line or you've enjoyed wearing it yourself. Maybe both.  Because of you, Dunitz & Company has been able to sustain artisans in Guatemala since the early 90's. And sustain me too! Can you believe that? Yes, over 25 years. For this, a HUGE THANK YOU. Happy Thanksgiving.-ND

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Barter for Cookies?

Sometimes it’s tough being a little guy (or gal.) It doesn’t matter how amazing your line is (and ours is). We work endlessly to promote our business. We tweet. We post blog entries. Yes, we’re working social media.  We travel to trade shows – lots of them. We send email blasts and regularly telephone our wholesale clients.  We do all we can to keep our #fairtrade and handmade jewelry line in and on the minds of our clients.  We don’t have famous friends and family. We don’t hang out with celebrities. We just keep plugging along.  Of course, I think anyone of note should love wearing our jewelry and provide a call out. Creating more demand would result in a lot more work for our artisans in Guatemala.  Yes, yes. I know there are 1,000,000s of amazing consumer goods needing a push.
Now – here’s where I see if you’re reading.  Other than my beautiful jewelry designs, I’ve wondered what bargaining chip (no pun intended) I might have.  I’ve been famous since I was a young girl for my Chocolate Chip Cookies.  If you speak with any my high school or college friends (#goblue) - & yes, my brother, they’ll confirm this. OK influencers – I’ll trade you some cookies for a plug. You won’t be disappointed. And I promise to use fair trade morsels ;) -ND

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The First Time I was an Ass it Changed My Life…Forever.

OK, perhaps I’ve behaved badly more than once.  But I always remember the one time that changed how I do business forever.
First off, I must admit to being a flea market hound. I love the hunt and finding the deal.  I’ve also made my ‘best offers’ on eBay – sometimes to my pleasure and other times not.  The thing is in these environments, I’m typically buying from savvy sellers who know what they need to make their sales worthwhile. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.
But let’s get back to when I was an ass, my confession and how that changed my life.  The year was most likely 1989. I had started traveling to Guatemala because I’d heard it was beautiful and replete with artisans creating extraordinary crafts.  I was working in ‘Corporate America’ and was considering jumping into the world of entrepreneurship. I did my homework ahead of my visits.  Sometimes I traveled by “chicken bus.”  Later on, I had hired a driver. (Back then there were no tourist vans, which can now be easily booked.) My mission was to visit various villages known for different crafts. I traveled to so many different places to learn about weaving, painting, embroidery and carving.  There wasn’t just one village known for weaving or painting. There were several.  And each used their own techniques.  There were (and are) several towns with craft markets.  These were the best times to find trinkets and gifts.  In most cases, you’d find stalls (or spaces) with vendors or artisans showing off piles of everything.  Everything included totes, hats, blankets and yes, lots of friendship bracelets. (Unlike now, at that time, there was no beaded jewelry. Stay tuned for that story another time.) Sometimes you’d find a single artisan standing on the street selling one or two items he or she had made. Yup, that’s the one time in my life I bargained too hard.  A sweet man was selling a small zippered change purse.  I don’t remember the specific details of the interaction.  What I do remember is feeling badly afterwards.  I’m certain he sold me the small bag for less than he wanted because he needed some money to eat or feed his family. The specifics, I’ll never know.  But to this day, my gut tells me I was wrong. And I was probably wrong over very little money. I should have been elated over purchasing a pretty handmade piece. Instead, I felt horrible.
That man will never know how he changed my life.  After that, I never again bargained with such veracity.  And when working with artisans ever since, I always remember the ‘Golden Rule.’  It was shortly after this experience that I decided to start my own business designing and wholesaling handicrafts.  I’m keenly aware that many vendors that purchase and re-sell goods bully artisans for the lowest prices possible. That one experience made a fair trader out of me. Good can come from bad. -ND

Friday, November 11, 2016

Respect Thy Neighbor

We each have a voice.  Let's try and use it for love. We each can make daily decisions that make small positive differences.  Smile more. Be interested. Pay it forward. Help a neighbor in trouble. Show respect. Be tolerant. Be more open to the views of others. Live and let live. Let kindness prevail.  I have always found that when I do something nice for someone, it makes me feel better. 
I have been operating a fair trade business for many years.  My focus has been to make sure the artisans I work with (in Guatemala) are treated with respect, earn living wages and continue to have opportunity that will support them. I've worked diligently to accomplish this. And it has always given me joy and satisfaction.
I try to live by the Golden Rule.  It's a way of life. Now (as is any time, really) is the perfect time to reflect on how we treat others and how we hope they will treat us.
After the Brexit vote in England, many people began wearing safety pins to show solidarity with immigrants and refugees. Those frightened by the changes could know that a person wearing a safety pin was on their side. A similar movement has now started in the USA. By wearing safety pins we can let our sisters and brothers know we accept them for who they are. We embrace love and reject hate. I do. -ND

Monday, November 7, 2016

Building a PDF Catalog for Las Vegas Market

Dunitz has launched a new (and I think wonderful) website. Have you checked it out?  The thing is, once we complete one thing, we're receiving requests for another. And I don't want Dunitz & Company to lose any opportunity.
We've never prepared a PDF catalog. And this season, Las Vegas Market has offered to post exhibitor's catalogs on their website. This is one more way wholesale buyers can find new resources and/or research booths they might like to visit if they are attending the market.  Their system is generated by a program called Active Merchandiser.  So, I jumped right in. I began posting photos and descriptions in Photoshop and then saved my pages as a PDF file. I was then able to upload them and create a 'flip-book' on their system. So far I've designed 4 pages.  And I don't think they're bad. I'm pretty proud of my first attempt at creating catalog pages.  You can search and visit our profile and then look at our flip book. Check them out and tell me what you think? Suggestions welcome. And if you're attending Las Vegas Market, come see us in Pavilion #1 - Booth 3019 -ND

Friday, November 4, 2016

Free Trade is NOT Fair Trade

Almost every week some one I know will refer to me as a free trader. This includes store owners, teachers, accountants and magazine editors.  It happens at parties and in email exchanges.  I have had many clients broadcast on social media about Dunitz & Company's free trade efforts.  I know in their hearts and minds, when they are saying 'free trade', they absolutely mean "fair trade"!  I always do my best to correct the mistake so it isn't made again. I'm certain that my friends and colleagues are expressing their support for businesses (such as mine) that have long term supportive relationships with artisans who would otherwise lack opportunity.  Fair Trade Federation has created an excellent graphic which I have posted here.  It simply outlines how the two are different. -ND

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Look Booking

Some of the most fun I've had lately is photographing our jewelry on models.  The line comes to life on the women I've hired to sport our newest styles.
I'm lucky. Because Dunitz & Company is based in Hollywood, CA, I encounter lots of actresses needing a bit of extra work.  I've met some adorable prospects at the dog park and eating at local restaurants. (Yes, many waitresses are also actresses. It's absolutely true.)

 I almost never leave my home or office without wearing a necklace or a bunch of Dunitz bracelets. It seems a bit brazen to ask this person or that person if she might consider modeling my line.  Of course I tell them about our commitment to fair trade principles. And - I show off whatever I'm wearing.  If you're too shy to do this, there's always Craiglist. -ND