Monday, January 30, 2017

Designing with Tradition

My design process in Guatemala is very collaborative.  After so many years the artisans I work with have a keen understanding of my aesthetic.  They also know that I adore incorporating traditional crafting into the designs I bring to market. It's easy to look at beading books printing in the USA and copy patterns other artists have created.  What is more challenging is always coming up with new and original designs.
Guatemalan women have been weaving and embroidering for themselves and their families for decades. Many of you must be familiar with the stunning huipil blouses they wear. We have an entire collection that borrows from the techniques they use to make them. The women are often inspired by what they see in nature.  This typically means flowers. And yes, we offer beadwork shaped as flowers each and every season. We've designed 100's of earrings that resemble one variety or another. This season, we decided to hone in on birds. It was only after a neighbor of mine started posting lots and lots of photos on facebook of hummingbirds (and in some cases they're feeding off of the bottlebrush tree in my yard) did I think to blog about our new bracelets featuring colorful birds. Shown here are cuffs (SKU: PcortePaj) embroidered on traditional corte fabric.  Each piece is on-of-a-kind.  Funny, we have bracelets embroidered with a rows of flowers.  This last week in Las Vegas, several clients zoomed in on these. They didn't even seem to mind that they wholesale for a bit more money than those without birds.  You can see more examples on our wholesale website. -ND

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Global Goodness Recognition

I just returned from Las Vegas Market where Dunitz & Company was singled out for our contributions for making a better world. OK - four companies were honored. Las Vegas Market's intentions were to recognize companies whose production and business practices are making positive impacts on the gift & furniture industries and also to communities around the world. And that we do. Dunitz & Company actively follows fair trade principles and is a member of Fair Trade Federation.
Dunitz & Company won a Global Goodness nod last year as a fan favorite.  Facebook readers liked and commented on photos and stories provided by various exhibitors.  We have great fans and customers.  And we thought we might win the same nod again this year.  Lots of our followers wrote wonderful comments about us.  Turns out another FTF member, Quilling Card won this award.
Almost better, three other companies were chosen by industry experts for the award. Dunitz & Company (gift division) and two others representing furniture and home decor.  The press release announcing the winners was circulated just before market opened.  I had no direct hand in the selection. (With the Facebook "popularity contest", I did ask friends and customers to give us the thumbs up.)  So as it happened, I feel even more delighted and touched with the award I was chosen for. The recognition of Dunitz & Company brought tears to my eyes. I work so diligently. And the fair trade business I operate is not always a simple effort. It's so nice to be recognized for our contributions. We are so proud of the work we do and the fair trade jewelry we bring to the marketplace. -ND

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fair Trade Jewelry - World Style Views

Dunitz & Company has worked in Guatemala for over 25 years. We've been offering fair trade jewelry to the trade all of this time. I think every year our designs are better and more sophisticated. Heck, we all grow quite a bit over so many years. It dawned on me as I was preparing to start our wholesale trade show season how buyers and trade show staff have changed their views over the years.  And change often they have.  My business was launched in 1990 at the California Gift Show. Now called LA Market in their World Style / Kentia Hall section.  This is where show management placed Dunitz & Company because we were importing from a third world country.  It has always been the hallmark section of this show as well.  I was pleased.  Anyone who attends the LA show has always walked this section.  What I learned in the early days as I was designing and developing beautiful on-trend collections is customers really liked what I was doing. My collection wasn't viewed a bunch of indigenous craft but as beautifully designed and colored one that appealed to upper scale boutiques.  Buyers at that time often viewed imported crafts as junk.  I worked very hard at creating a line that targeted fashionistas and museum buyers.  At the time, fair trade was not a word used to describe where and how goods were produced. I always lived by the golden rule and intuitively practiced what is now defined as the principles of fair trade. But then something happened.  Trade management told me I no longer fit into the World Style section of the show. Even though my line used traditional artisan techniques my lined looked "too current'.  I was told I must move my location to their Fashion Accessories section. (It was not a good move for my business and later to retain Dunitz as an exhibitor the show allowed us to return to World Style.) This is a dance we've had with many trade shows over the years.  In current times, several trade shows, such as New York Now have been much stricter about their sections and do not allow exhibitors to move within their defined sections. Their first-world and third-world handmade exhibitors are separated into different sections. Years ago we were all comingled. The third-world Global section at NY Now is a potpourri of companies of which some import indigenous crafts and other create original design. The take away on this is that wholesale trade show management continually change their views on 'what' product is and how it should be seen. 
As I continued to develop our fashion brand, it was clear my success was a direct result of our good designs. (Yes, I'm rubbing my shoulder here.) Concurrently, buyers were now beginning to learn about fair trade and show interest in supporting companies that treated their artisans well and assured their well-being. [One way we assure our customers that we practice what we preach is by being a member of Fair Trade Federation and a gold certified Green America business. Membership does not come easily and we were carefully vetted.]  For several years, I continue to think a majority of my customer bought from Dunitz & Company because our fair trade jewelry was and is beautiful. If forced to choose between two lines they were considering, and all other things being equal, a shop would purchase ours given our fair trade practices. Yes! It was beauty first. Fair trade second.
Jump ahead a few years.  I can honestly say in the current environment, buyers seek out our line and Dunitz & Company BECAUSE we follow fair trade practices. Then they fall in love with our fair trade jewelry designs because they are attractive. (How could they not ;)?) In a significant number of cases now, I think buyers consider fair trade first - before even looking at merchandise. The tides have changed. Store owners and consumers are more interested in fair trade, sustainability and ethical behavior. And of course, I'm thrilled that a huge wave of people feel this way. I'm confident they will continue to be impressed with our designs.
If you are a retailer, please see more on our website. If you are a consumer you can check our the Dunitz store locator or visit our Shop Dunitz retail website or one of our on-line partners listed on our site. Thank you for reading. We can't wait to see many of you wearing our fair trade earrings...or maybe a bracelet too! -ND


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Green America - Green Pages

I randomly looked up the Dunitz & Company profile on the Green America Green Pages yesterday.  I saw ours was two lines long where in several other cases companies had lengthier descriptions.  I reached out to the Felicia of Membership Services today. She couldn't have been more helpful.  She explained that the published print book only allowed for the short description. She also suggested we provide her a longer description of what we offer for their online portal. You better believe I was on it asap. She also explained that the Green Pages were designed to specifically target consumers, not shop owners. That sure opened up my eyes.  I'd always wondered why our business didn't attract much sales through this link. For more than 25 years, Dunitz & Company has wholesaled hip on-trend fair trade jewelry. But when shoppers were checking out the Green Pages, they weren't looking to buy 24 pairs of fair trade earrings. They only wanted one pair. Of course we were overlooked.  Light bulb moment.  With Felicia's help, our Green Pages profile has been updated with our new retail website, social media links and our logo. I couldn't be happier. And I bet there will be some more very happy eco-oriented fashionistas modeling our fair trade gems that they can more easily find us at Green America! -ND

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Long Handmade & Fair Trade Lariats

Have you noticed many celebrities wearing long lariats this season? And we mean long! Many of them are wrapping and wrapping around super long ribbons and tying bows around their necks. Much of what I see in the magazines feels very Victorian.  Could this fashion style be stemming from recent television serials such as The Crown or Masterpiece Victoria. Could be.
When designing for Spring 2017, I thought it was important to address this trend. You'll see two new styles from Dunitz & Company  in the photo to the right. Both are being shown in 12 colors at the wholesale trade shows. The beaded Circle Three Lariat shown on the left (SKU: CLR1) is approximately 63" long. That allows for a lot of wrapping. These are designed with a long strand of Czech or Japanese glass seed beads with round accents adorned with leather cord and crystals. The design on the right, our Rectangle Glass Lariat (SKU: JM-N36) comes from our Joanie M fair trade fused glass collection.  Fused glass squares and rectangles are attached to a macrame cord stretching about 49".  Both designs are light in weight and easy to wear. Perhaps you want a lariat for you? Definitely link to our Shop Dunitz site.  -ND

Monday, January 16, 2017

Studs Always Win

Every season we design lots of new earring styles. Why? Because we find our customers buy and buy earrings. And - we have also learned that many customers want the smallest sized earrings they can find. If you operate a retail store and login to our wholesale site, you'll see we've added more studs for you to choose from. Our challenge has been how do we create new and exciting designs on the tiniest footprint. Now we have fused glass options, beaded options, embroidered options, ribbon options and a combination of all of these element options. It's funny how one can become attached to the smallest of designs.  If you're looking for yourself, our websites have a wonderful store locator function.  No shops near you? You'll find many pretties available on our retail site. Please remember when you order from Dunitz & Company, you are purchasing items that are fair trade. Dunitz is a proud member of Fair Trade Federation and a gold certified Green America business. You'll not only be purchasing beautiful items, you'll know you are also sustaining the artisans that are creating them. -ND

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Beads Embroidery Gucci Dunitz

When asked what designer has been going bead crazy or embroidery crazy lately what might you respond. Gucci? Tom Ford? And yes they have. You'd be right. Purchase something from their collection and you'll certainly own an amazing piece. And you'll be a lot poorer.  A handbag, jacket or skirt will set you back 1000's of dollars. When I see Gucci accessories in the recent issues of Vogue or Elle, I think a few things. First I know they've absolutely been inspired by traditional Guatemala handiwork. And second, I wonder why hipsters wouldn't search online and find our wholesale and retail websites.  If you're a retailer or just looking for you, you should know of our work. Think beads. Think embroidery. Think on-trend fashion. Think Dunitz.

Dunitz & Company
We've been working with talented Guatemalan artisans since the early 90s. Beading and embroidery is nothing new for us. We inspire and have been inspired by the women we've nurtured for many years. They have amazing abilities to bead and embroider flowers and birds. It's second nature since their traditional iconography embraces all things of nature.  With our help, we've collaborated to create designs, color combinations and adornments that please many a fashionista. Within our collections you'll find amazing earrings, bracelets, necklaces, hair accessories and even finger rings dolled up with fantastic embroidery and beads.  Want amazing beaded and embroidered accessories. Think Dunitz. And save a lot of money! -ND

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dunitz Wholesale - New Challenges in 2017

Dunitz & Company has been wholesaling fabulous (well, I think so) fair trade jewelry since the early 1990's.  And we're still here. Yes that is an accomplishment. We've seen many colleagues launch businesses and retire during our tenure. Every six months we launch a new collection of designs in a host of new colors.  You can log in to our new wholesale website now to see our Spring 2017 introductions.

Our ongoing challenge is maintaining and increasing our exposure in retail stores around the country. Every week we learn of new retailer closures either by our customers contacting us directly or by reading their social media posts.  We've seen a few too many store fixture blow-out sales.

What to do?  Dunitz & Company has always depended on the wholesale trade shows we've participated in to generate business. We have always found that many store owners like to see and feel our designs in person. At one point, I was quite the trade show warrior participating in 14 or more shows a year.  The rents and expenses to exhibit at many shows continue to rise - rise so much that they don't make economic sense.  In other cases, shows that were very good for us have been permanently closed.  We always saw quality customers and wrote good sales at the San Francisco Gift Show and Boston Gift Show. These are two that have been closed.  Other shows have declined in size with shrinking buyer attendance. We've had to drop attending wholesale shows that at one time were excellent venues for us. Bottom line, there are less viable options for exhibiting our wares.

We are happy to entertain working with sales reps. We've collaborated with many over the years. In theory it's a great idea. The job of sales rep is a tough one, and one very difficult to eek out a living at.  We've had reps come and go. Dissertations could be written about relationships, successes and failures.

So here it is. You can always find the details of Dunitz & Company's trade show schedule on line. This season you'll find us at Las Vegas Market, NY Now and Los Angeles Market (at the LA Convention Center.)  Will we see you in person?  And if not, take the time to visit the new and improved Dunitz & Company wholesale website.

If you have questions about our wholesale line, we're always available. We look forward to seeing you and working with you in 2017. Happy New Year. We wish you all the best year ever. -ND

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dunitz Retail

Dunitz & Company has all kinds of new challenges for 2017. One of our new challenges is how to best get our new Dunitz retail website in front of the eyes of millennials. We’ve ascertained that millennials rather shop online than go into stores.  Of course, we’d love for everyone to shop at our retail partner brick & mortars. To help with this, our websites have a sophisticated store locator function.

To find new customers online we’ve been working Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and yes, Facebook.  We use #hashtags. Tips welcome.  We’ve been playing up that our business practices are ethical and fair trade. Dunitz is a gold certified business member of Green America and a proud member of Fair Trade Federation.  We practice what we preach.  The challenge is there seems to be a glut of small operations posting everywhere.  How the heck do people sift through data overload? 
Do you have some thoughts or ideas for us? We've designed a beautiful and amazing retail website. Some have suggested we sell on Amazon or Etsy. Why would we do that?  And I've heard from some others artists that they haven't been successful with their pages on these monster websites. Do you have a small business with some success stories? Are you willing to share some tips? Are you a social media professional with a good plan? We’ll gladly entertain your pitch. We’d love to hear from you.

Next entry. The new challenges of a wholesale business.-ND