Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Diego Rivera Reminds Us - Fair Trade is Not Charity

On a recent mini-vacation to Mexico City I visited the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This fantastic theater is also well known for its colossal murals on the second and third floors.  I was particularly drawn to one created by Diego Rivera in 1934 and wondered why much of the signage depicted in this masterpiece entitled "Man, Controller of the Universe" was in English. And then I learned the story behind the images. This grand scale painting was originally commissioned (even larger in size) by Nelson Rockefeller for yes, Rockefeller Center.  Diego began painting the mural, then known as "Man at the Crossroads" in New York in 1933 and it included images of Lenin and the Soviet May Day parade. When asked to remove these parts of the mural, Diego Rivera refused. Rockefeller paid the artist for his work and then had the partially completed mural destroyed and painted over. It was only then that Diego Rivera took his plans and re-created this masterpiece in Mexico City.

One of the main themes dictated for the creation of the mural was "looking for hope for a better world."  The timing of this is an interesting one since the mural was created after the Crash of '29 and before World War II. There are plenty of references to scientific discoveries. What I honed in on was the disparity between rich and poor people represented. Their are rich society women playing cards. And right next to them is a worker with a sign "We Want Work, Not Charity."  Other signs seen state "We Want Bread, We Are Hungry" and "Divided We Starve, Together We Eat." There are police officers attempting to keep marching crowds in order. Leon Trotsky is also part of the mural with his red flag "Workers of the World Unite." Everyone is looking for a fair shake.

The desperate times depicted in this mural, in the scheme of a life, weren't that long ago. Much less than 100 years ago, our brothers were starving and looking for work and fair wages. We've all read about this part of American history. Many of our parents and grandparents lived this tale. And so I wonder, when we experienced this way of life in what really is recent times, so many of my country mates turn their back on supporting fair trade and following the golden rule.  Life is not better for us or the world when we try to buy goods at the cheapest price without considering how and where they were made. This clearly was our story in the 1930s. Did we not learn anything at all from our own difficult times? What do you think?

If you do visit Mexico City - you MUST put a visit to this mural masterpiece on your to-do list! -ND

Monday, March 20, 2017

Raquel Welch and Fair Trade Fused Glass Earrings

Did my post title catch your attention? I know it's rather silly, but I had to do it.  Raquel Welch actually has marketed a wig collection for many years.You can easily find Raquel's wig designs online as well as numerous glamorous photos of her modeling them. I took the liberty of changing out her diamond earrings for Joanie M fair trade fused glass earrings in this image. She's styling in our Delgado Earrings. What do you think?
By now you are asking where is all of this coming from.  Many of you know that I am flea market maven. Often on Sunday's you can find me scouring tables and piles of vintage goodies at one market or another. Recently I found a Raquel Welch wig mannequin. My Raquel has long eyelashes, pierced ears, plump lips and enviable cheekbones.  I have no wigs for her.  I do however have lots and lots of earrings to doll her up in. For the occasion of this blog, my Raquel was outfitted with our fair trade fused glass earrings. Each pair is individually cut by artisans and then cooked in a kiln. Every pair bubbles just a little differently. Buy a pair on our retail website. Or you can order them for your shop.  Dunitz & Company has been designing this collection of fair trade jewelry since 2011 and it has become a huge hit with our retail store accounts. Triangles, rectangles, teardrops, almonds - these are only a few of the shapes we offer. And they're always available in many colors. Ear wires are made of surgical steel.We promise you don't need to look like Raquel Welch to look like a million bucks in our fair trade earrings. -ND

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wearing Prosperity

We've recently collaborated with several bloggers and Instagram fashionistas. It seems not only do they love our message of sustainability, they also dig our fair trade jewelry. It's been a lot of fun seeing our pieces featured in several lifestyle shots. Our world coin necklaces which are part of our 'prosperity collection' have been a blogger favorite.  Several women have jumped at the chance to model these pieces. Only today, Rie Aoki posted a spectacular shot on Instagram wearing our four strander coin necklace. (Richard Romero @richromero_ earns the photo credit for these shots.) Rie also blogs and as soon as she has posted her entry about her shoot (with a lot more pics), we'll add the link to this story. You won't want to miss her dramatic images which also include Dunitz & Company fair trade earrings. [OK, you can see a snippet of our Screener Earrings in her photo shown here!]
Earlier this year we worked with Lisa Mecham. She sported some Dunitz & Company's coin jewelry for her blog entry "Favorite Pieces From My Jewelry Collection." That sure made us happy! Check out the photo to the right of this paragraph. That's Lisa with our four strander and beaded leather bracelet.  We say take the time to read her blog and see the other photos she posted of our designs. [Look right again. That's her photo with our coin lariat and bracelet.] While you're at it, peruse her other entries. We think you'll also enjoy following her on Instagram.
Why wouldn't you invest in one of our coin necklaces or bracelets?  Yes, they're stunning. They also make great conversation starters. I've almost never worn a piece when someone hasn't commented on the coins, where they are from and where they have traveled. Almost everyone enjoys sharing their tales of adventure to faraway lands. Mexico? Portugal? Egypt? No two pieces are ever the same. And our world coins come from absolutely everywhere. Want a bracelet or necklace with only Israeli coins? We do that too! -ND

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pin It On for Pantsuit Nation

Pantsuit Nation. You might say this is all about Hillary Clinton. And many would agree with you. Since the election, lots of Pantsuit Nation groups by any other name have organized on Facebook. Most promote equity, liberty and social justice.
Many of the biggest clothing designers from around the globe have jumped on the Pantsuit bandwagon.  Fall 2017 ready-to-wear runways showed off many many pantsuits - some conservative, others boldly colored with unconventional lines. We think wearing any of these makes for a strong woman and a strong statement. Check out the latest from Alexander McQueen, Marni, Jil Sander and Max Mara. I'm tellin' ya - after seeing these and others, I'm wildly happy I saved several of my very own pantsuits from the 1980s!
So what does a jewelry designer (that's me) suggest for all these stunning solid colored top & bottom coordinates? If you were a politician, we'd tell you to attach straight up, a flag pin. But, since we're not, we suggest fair trade brooches. Dunitz & Company offers all kinds of artisan made fair trade pins to doll up any of these outfits. Some resemble roses made of sheepskin. Others are made from scraps of handwoven Guatemalan fabric with glass bead adornments. Quilters will love our yoyo flowers.  If you're looking for your retail store, Dunitz & Company has lots of pretties to send you. Login to our wholesale catalog and have a look. Our embroidered denim pins might be the number. Don't want to place a brooch on your lapel? You KNOW you have a hat, handbag or coat begging to be adorned with our fair trade pins! -ND

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fascination Frida Kahlo

Does it seem as if the entire world is fascinated with Frida Kahlo? I know I snugly fit in that group. (Dunitz & Company retails designs inspired by her fashion savvy.) This weekend, I began to ponder about why she garners so much attention and curiosity.  It seems there is a lot of good reason for it. First off, when I think "Mexican Art", the first thing that pops up in my head are all the self-portraits Kahlo created. If this is your experience too, you're not alone. After inserting the words "Mexican Art" into my browser, stories and photos of Frida Kahlo were the first to populate. We live in a selfie era. And Frida Kahlo got started long before any of us.  She was her own best publicist. It's been reported that of 143 paintings produced by Kahlo, 55 are self portraits.Wow! 
Obviously Frida Kahlo's work was greatly inspired by her life experiences. Much of her life was riddled with pain. She survived a bout with polio as a child leaving her with a limp. She survived a bus accident in her late teens which resulted in many surgeries. She fell in love with, married, divorced and remarried artist, Diego Rivera whom was 31 years her senior. There's was a tumultuous relationship, which yes, lead to more pain. Frida, a most colorful character, according to reports didn't dwell in her pain. She lived. She was openly bisexual and was known to have had affairs even when she was married. Her sexual relationships included those with Josephine Baker, Isamu Noguchi and perhaps most notable, Leon Trotsky. Frida's life is fascinating. She was a feminist, a communist and a fashion plate. No wonder Salma Hayek made a movie about her.
Much of my fascination with Kahlo revolves around her dress and the fashion choices she made. As you know, I work in Guatemala where the local Mayan women primarily wear beautiful and traditional dress.  But, to me, that's what they look like. Local women outfited in traditional dress. Somehow, Kahlo wearing flowers in her hair, traditional Tehuana clothing and big earrings transformed her into a super star. She was magnificent whether she was in the pueblo, Mexico City, Detroit (where she lived for a time with Diego Rivera) or New York.  No wonder she is viewed as a fashion icon and inspires the collections of so many designers. Heck, she has inspired me. This current season Dunitz & Company introduced and named necklaces, bracelets, earrings and brooches for Kahlo. These latest styles are embroidered and beaded on recycled denim. I'm certain if she were living today, she'd be sporting them with any number of her flouncy skirted outfits. What do you think? Are you fascinated by Frida Kahlo? - ND

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fair Trade Judaica

Did you know that Dunitz & Company offers a small fair trade Judaica collection? If you are a buyer from a synagogue gift shop you should be logging into our wholesale catalog. If you are looking for you, you should check out our store locator to find a shop near you that carries items from this collection or visit our retail catalog. We're always changing things up, so check back often.
Perhaps you are wondering how a fair trade jewelry company begins selling Judaica? It's really quite simple. It seemed several years ago at the wholesale gift shows, especially in New York, Judaica buyers were determined to find new and different designs for their shops. Each and every season for many years, I'd be asked "Do you have any Judaica?"  And season after season, I'd say no.... I wish I did. And then it dawned on me why not?
For many years Dunitz & Company had been employing crochet artisans and sisters, Barbara and Concepcion. (That's Barbara in the photo!) They were making jewelry components for some of our best selling designs in the 1990s. (Before I'd met them, they crocheted the best hacky sacks you could find in Guatemala.) It made perfect sense for them to crochet yarmulkes too. Our Judaica line was born. Since that time, we've designed several styles in several colors. There definitely was a learning curve. When I first launched the line, we offered kippot in "fashion colors". We learned quickly that the Judaica shops did not want 'coral orange' for Spring and 'burgundy' for Fall.  Since that time, we pared down our offerings to those our client's preferred in more subdued colors. Ivory and black have always been the most popular.  Barbara and Concepcion continue to make are kippot...and crochet jewelry components.
From time to time we design other items for those interested in Judaica. We've created a stunning collection of mezuzah's for inside use comprised of glass beads and ribbons.  Want one for your living room door? You can find them on our website. Several colors are available. We have also launched several designs with the familiar Star of David symbol. One of our favorites, our Star of David Cuff can be found on our retail site.  Perhaps our strongest selling Judaica jewelry has been our necklaces and bracelets featuring Israeli coins and metallic colored glass seed beads. We adore this sophisticated collection and you'll find it in many temple gift shops. We actually offer identical styles comprised of assorted world coins. Order them for your shop... or order them for you. Most of all, we are thankful to have several excellent retail partners for our Judaica - online. Fair Trade Judaica always has an excellent collection of our kippot available for sale. Check out Judaica.com and the Tallis Lady too.-ND

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fluff, Tippy & Fair Trade Earrings

Some of you may know this about me...I love to hunt for flea market treasure. Often on a Sunday morning you can find me trolling around for the perfect find.  One of my discoveries was and is "Tippy", a fabulous vintage mannequin with pierced ears.  Named by a dear friend of mine, Tippy has wonderful painted curly hair and real eyelashes. She has enviable cheekbones.  Today she decided to steal my old faded Gap sweatshirt and model some of Dunitz & Company's fabulous fair trade earrings. Yes, this is a fluff piece today! Most of the earrings Tippy is wearing in this spread are new this season and available from our wholesale catalog.  If you're looking for fair trade jewelry direct from us, please check out our host of offerings on our retail site.

We love our Crochet Web Hoops and they're available in several colors. If you have a retail store, log in and get some ordered for your shop. As you know, Dunitz & Company has lots and lots of fair trade beaded earrings to show you (and sell you!)
 These are our Triangle Swirl Earrings. These Dunitz & Company fair trade beaded earrings are a customer favorite this season. Tippy decided to hang out in the middle of our offices near the inventory for this shot!
 Our Quilter Earrings remind us of....vintage quilt patterns. What an original name, yes?
 Peace Peace Peace! Peace Now! We're all striving for a bit of peace. Why not dangle some Peace Danglers on your ears? Or your customer's ears?
 Dunitz & Company also has a terrific collection of fair trade fused glass earrings. We have lots of styles including these Tiny Almond Glass ones.  And you'll find several fused glass earrings available on our retail site. If you haven't given our Joanie M Collection a try, we suggest you do. This collection which we introduced in 2011 has successfully sold in many stores. You won't be disappointed.


Tippy shows off our Pointed Triangle Glass Earrings in this last photo of the day. She wanted you to all know Dunitz & Company sells several shapes of fair trade fused glass earrings.
Thanks for reading and having fun with us. - ND

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Step Forward - A Solola Tale

Several years ago, on one of my many trips to Guatemala, a friend and I decided to head to a cooperative we knew about which was located in the city of Solola.  This workshop was known for the hand-dyed and woven chenille scarves it produced. My intent was (and I did) to purchase gifts for my nieces and business colleagues. While there, we were also shown a series of small pen and watercolor paintings that an artist had left in hopes of possibly selling a few. For that artist, it was an unlikely venue to do so. Cooperatives like this one do not receive a lot of foot traffic. Typically I wouldn't purchase a jumbo postcard sized illustration. But at the time, I knew that if I did, the money earned by this artist could feed a family for a week. I could make a difference.  To this day, I do not know if the artist who created this work is a woman or a man.
I remember thumbing through several small paintings. My friend & I each selected one. I'm certain I chose this "outsider art" piece, because the characters shown had facial features (eyes, nose) and also were wearing traditional clothing of which you could see some details. This image illustrates indigenous people farming. Obviously they are poor - neither character has shoes. At the time, the positioning of the people reminded me of ancient Egyptian art. Although we should be seeing these character's profiles, their eyes stare at us.  We know their feet are moving them toward the left of the frame. But what we see is the top of their feet. Even though the piece is very cartoon-line, it expresses so much. (Do I sound like an Art Historian? I actually earned a B.A. in History of Art at the University of Michigan.) 
And this is where my analysis of this artwork began and ended. Until today. Since the time I purchased it, it has been propped up against some books on the shelves of my library. I glance at it often without giving it significant thought. This morning with International Women's Day on my mind, I approached this piece quite differently. All of a sudden I noticed that the woman is standing behind the man. He has a hat. She is not shielded from the sun. Her hoe is embedded in the ground and her head is tilted as she works the field. He holds his tool, but is not actually using it.  What the painting illustrates to us is the woman is one step behind the man and in this rendition of life in Guatemala, the man is positioned in a superior position. This is a light bulb moment.
I have been traveling to and working in Guatemala since 1989. I've spent years developing a fair trade business that has diligently supported and sustained a community of mostly female artisans. Dunitz & Company has made a difference for this community. Guatemala is a poor country and most farmers and artisans are without opportunity. Often their daily labor is not enough to cover necessities. The painting I have shared above illustrates just that. It was painted by a Guatemalan showing how they see themselves and their daily existence. We know fair trade makes a difference in the way people live. We also know according to the UN and Oxfam, that a majority of those growing and producing the world's food are women. Whether someone is picking coffee beans in Guatemala or tea leaves in Sri Lanka, when you purchase fair trade, you know the people working in the fields are earning living wages and can feed and educate their children. I realize I'm preaching a bit. Nothing changes overnight. By changing our purchase habits, even a small bit, we can make it a better world. If you decide to purchase fair trade cotton sheets next month or fair trade coffee always, these choices will trickle down to improving lives globally. Today is about taking steps to champion gender parity. If you are reading this, I implore you to begin changing your purchase habits...even just a little bit. And I hope next time I find a cluster of small paintings in Guatemala, the woman and man will be shown as equals and they both will be wearing shoes.-ND

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#FairHer - Recognizing the Women of Fair Trade

Last year at this time, Fair Trade USA announced a #fairher campaign.  The focus of this campaign was and is to recognize women who participate in the success and sustenance of fair trade. It could be you. Do you purchase fair trade cocoa or support a local shop that sells fair trade handicrafts? If you do, you make a difference. Every little choice makes a difference in lives. These small positive choices would make you a 'Fair Her'!
There are many layers to 'Fair Her' and fair trade.  The campaign hopes to empower women and spring women (and men) into action to help raise the standard of living of women around the world. Did you know that 25% of the global population are rural women?  These women also make up a majority of the agricultural labor force and estimates by the UN suggest they produce 60-80% of the world's food. Unfortunately in most cases these women do not earn living wages and receive unequal treatment as compared to their male counterparts. By purchasing fair trade edibles, you can make a difference in the lives of some of these rural women. Women who work in fair trade certified farms earn fair and equal pay, have access to education and health services and often are protected from sexual harassment. My experience and observations have been the same when it comes to handicrafts. I know first-hand that not all artisans are treated equally in the community where I work in Guatemala. There are poor women working for less than $1.00/day creating bead-work for importers who buy and sell at the cheapest prices they can. I'm intimately familiar with businesses that operate with these traditional supply-demand economics.  Unfortunately I also see how this only benefits those at the top of the food chain and how the artisans suffer so deeply. They can't feed their families or educate their children. Fair traders live by the 'golden rule.' When artisans are treated with respect and paid living wages our world is a much better place. Looking for fair trade resources? I suggest you visit the Fair Trade Federation website. There you can find wholesalers and retailers that have been screened for their business practices. 'Fair Her' celebrates and recognizes everyone who makes choices to better our world. It celebrates me - a woman who operates a fair trade wholesale business and retail website.  It celebrates retailers who choose to sell fair trade food and gifts. It celebrates consumers who choose to buy fair trade items. Are you a 'Fair Her'? - ND

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fair Trade Flower Fun

March means Spring. And soon it will be April. The weather is warming and flowers are beginning to bloom. OK - I'm in California. The flowers are always blossoming here. That means it is also the time to wear fair trade flowers in your hair.  OK - again!  We think any time of year is perfect for wearing flowers in your hair.  Just ask Kirsten Vangsness, the actress who plays Penelope on the hit show Criminal Minds.  She always has big and bright flowers in her hair.  Heck, we say wear more than one. Tie all you hair up in back and wear 2 or 3. Why the heck not?
Did you know our fair trade flower barrettes (and pins, yes, we have flower pins too) are handmade in Peru? Most of Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collection is made in Guatemala. However, these wonderful flower we're showing off here are not. In 2011, I traveled to Peru. Oh what a glorious trip that was.  While in Cuzco, I stopped in a little gift shop and discovered a bowl filled with these tiny little flower pins fashioned from sheepskin. I bought one thinking at some point I'd either wear it or gift it to one of my nieces.  Later that day I met up with a friend for lunch who was working in Peru at the time. The more the merrier. He invited his friend Pedro to join us. After showing Pedro my flower, his eyes brightened.  We went back to the shop where I'd purchased the flower and Pedro confirmed with the shop owner that the flower had been made by an artisan and friend he hadn't seen for several years. It turned out his friend had fallen on hard times and had moved to Lima where he had some family. Kismet. I met Jim in Lima two days later and we decided to work together. Jim told me his flowers were selling nowhere in Peru except for the small shop where I had purchased my pin. Are chills running down your arms yet?  It was meant to be. That's me and Jim in the photo to the right. After hearing this story, aren't these the flower barrettes you want to be wearing? -ND


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Love Affair with Art Glass

In 2011, Dunitz & Company introduced our fair trade fused glass jewelry collection, named Joanie M in honor of my mother. My mom had always dreamed of owning a "dress shop". I knew she'd be smiling down from heaven knowing beautiful jewelry hanging from cards with her name would be selling in clothing boutiques and gift stores all around the country. At the time, I had no idea just how many stores that would become. It was earlier that year that I had met Rosa's son while doing some business in Antigua. He anxiously told me I had to meet his mother after learning I designed and wholesaled fair trade beaded jewelry for sale in the USA. He explained that his artistic mother had begun dabbling in glass-making and he thought she and I might collaborate successfully. And correct he was. At the time, Rosa was designing for Guatemalan women.  In Guatemala, women tend to prefer larger more complicated designs in garish color combinations.  Rosa was also using a lot of Chinese findings in her designs, findings she could easily purchase in the city.  Together we simplified styles, created new color combinations and....eliminated all those Chinese findings.  We even added macrame elements to many of our necklaces. It wasn't until after launching Dunitz & Company's fused glass jewelry that I realized America has had a long standing love affair with glass.  Stores "jumped" on the line. Our collection was and is easy to sell. Better yet, most stores that decided to represent our line, sold through and bought again.  The collection has turned out to be a dream.
Did you know that there are many museums that specialize in art glass? We knew that many major museums have strong "art glass" collections. We've had our work in many of their gift shops.  But, now we know that there are several museums....that only showcase glass. This season both the Corning Museum of Glass and the Dorflinger Glass Museum will be selling our jewelry in their gift shops. Yes, we're thrilled. Last year we shipped the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass. We'll have to figure out how we can connect with other glass museum buyers.  Is it time for a road trip? The Boston Globe lifestyle section recently wrote about what they thought were the top five in the USA. Anyone out there have connections to the buyers at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Museum of Glass Tacoma, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (think Louis Comfort Tiffany) or the Chihuly Gardens? It looks like we have more work cut out for us. We'd be tickled pink if these additional museum shops would sell our fused glass jewelry.  And we know with America's love affair with glass, they'd be happy they found us too. In the meantime, these museums have been added to my personal 'to-do' visit list. After all, my love affair with art glass is growing too. -ND

Friday, March 3, 2017

Miley Cyrus & Pink Flowers

The Voice is on air again. And while I really enjoy watching the auditions of so many talented singers, I also miss seeing the fashion statements from some of the judges from season's past.  I mean no disrespect to Gwen Stefani or Alicia Keys. I'm sure as the season progresses, I'll definitely call them out for some of their drapery.  Heck, I absolutely know their do and do nots are and will be noteworthy.  But when the Voice launched earlier this week, I was reminded of Miley Cyrus and her overdone and whimsical "flowers on denim" look. How could you not have fun with that one and the consistent jokes from Blake Shelton?  I only wish she had been wearing Dunitz & Company fair trade flowers all over her outfit.  Wouldn't that have been a coup for fair trade and our message of sustainability and respect for the artisans that create what we wear? What would people out on the street think if I went out with that look. See my jeans here covered in flowers. I suspect they'd think I was just as silly as Miley and a very odd nut. I'm not Miley. My suggestion is to pick out one jumbo flower in your favorite color and wear it at your collar or on your jacket...maybe to close your scarf. Wear ours and stand up for fair trade. You'll definitely be on-trend with our flower accents. If you operate a retail store, please login to the Dunitz wholesale website and order some for your shelves. And if you know Miley Cyrus, give us a shout out. We'd love to work with her and have her model Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. We're certain her endorsement would do a lot of good and reinforce with many people that every dollar counts when they carefully consider their purchases. -ND

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Flowers on Handbags; Altuzarra & Dunitz Fair Trade Jewelry

We say get the look and DIY! I'm always watching the big name designers. And then we mastermind and suggest how you can get the same look for less from Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry and accessories. I've previously reported that Gucci models have been donning jumbo flowers on their jackets, collars and handbags for many months. Altuzarra is the latest to decorate their high-end purses with big flowers. Their Fall 2017 ready-to-wear runway show was peppered with these adorned bags. The attached pic illustrates the purses that will set you back nearly $2000! Yes, $2000.  They are stunning. We say make a similar statement for a lot less.
Dunitz & Company both wholesales and retails jumbo flower pins which are made by artisans in Peru. Yes, our jewelry is fair trade and very affordable.  The diameter of our sheepskin pins is approximately 5" and they are available in a host of colors. They look amazing on any old leather handbag. (Or attach one to a new handbag too!)  For this story I dragged out the bag I've been carrying for....a long time. Voila!  I created a hip and updated look. How cool would one of our fair trade brooches be on your purse? Go for it! -ND