Monday, December 18, 2017

More About Pantone's Ultra-Violet

There are so many influencers of fashion design and the colors used in fashion. I've always thought the most well known "international" designers (think Calvin Klein, DKNY, Stella McCartney etc.) cast the greatest directions. I've been told these designers are working two years ahead in many cases. Dunitz & Company starts working on new fair trade collections about six months ahead of their fair trade jewelry release. And then there is Pantone making their announcements of color long after the rest of us have done our work.

I've been at the design game for a long time. Often, I dream of color combinations. Most often I am inspired by the ready-to-wear runway shows. I watch them avidly for inspiration. I also have noticed over the years that color trends gradually evolve and disappear. For instance, shades of grey have dominated for as much as three years. In recent years all shades and tints of jade seem to persist. This has allowed Dunitz & Company the opportunity to repeat successful color combinations. Shades of grey or silver with jade and seafoam ....just isn't going anywhere. And then there is PURPLE!

With our fair trade jewelry collection, I tend to always offer twelve colors. With our lower-end jewelry, our gift shop customers are more successful when they can offer their clients a potpourri of colors. For the upcoming Spring 2018, our plans were no different. New to my color range for Spring and one I'm most excited about is Black/Silver/Crystal. There seemed a plethora of black & white on the New York runways. And after I finished my colors this season, I thought something is missing. Guess what that was? Yes. Purple. To round out our fused glass and beaded collections we added some amethyst and plum. And in a few cases combined with lime or grass green.

Flash forward. December 2017 and after all of those "international designers" I mentioned earlier have launched their Spring 2018 designs, Pantone crowns ULTRA-VIOLET color of the year for 2018. Seriously? Leatrice Eiseman is viewed as the goddess of color. And clearly, everyone is scrambling. Harper's Bazaar immediately wrote that many designers including Tom Ford and Michael Kors were showing more flattering shades of amethyst for Spring 2018!

So why did Pantone choose ULTRA-VIOLET as their color? Eiseman is quoted here, "We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level."  Pantone's website suggests Ultra Violet is focused on the mysteries of the cosmos,  the intrigue of what lies ahead and discoveries beyond.  Enigmatic purples have also been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality and artistic brilliance. Seriously, who is Pantone hiring to write this stuff? I'm afraid to say that purple is also the color of kings or those that think they are king.

Pantone has joined the Facebook advertising craze and is actively sponsoring posts about their 2018 color choice. And Facebook strollers are eating up the announcements. ("I better paint my walls purple now." "I bought a dark purple shirt last week. I'm way ahead." and the comments go on and on and on.)  You better believe Pantone is successful in creating trends. I'm sure many an "international designer" is masterminding how they can cut some last minute garments for retailer racks.

Bloggers and top magazines and publishers are grabbing at straws. Nylon and New York Times and every other magazine last week launched articles with found photos of perfect purple clothing and accessories for your 2018 wardrobes. I'll almost guarantee that their next printed editions will offer the same.

Even the stylists on NBC's Today Show were in on the act this morning. Both Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were decked out in 'Ultra-Violet' clothing. I tuned in late. I have no idea if they featured a story today on this recently crowned shade.

I'd like to say that I was on the pulse in advance of the Pantone announcement. The truth is, as mentioned above, I added 'shades of purple' to our 2018 Spring collection, because it was needed to round out our offerings. Honestly, I would have never guessed "Ultra Violet" (AKA dark Purple) would be bestowed such an honor. But heck, Dunitz & Company is ready for you. Our fair trade fused glass will shine this season with our color 88 (a repeat of amethyst and violet) and our new color 117. This luscious combo marries plum with lime.

Our newest bead-work color 354 joins amethyst and violet with various shades of spring green. We think you'll love it. It's bright and perky and makes one think of new growth and flowers. One might suggest that this combination is the perfect coupling of Pantone's 2017 color "Greenery" with their 2018 queen, "Ultra-Violet".

Dare I say sometimes these projections don't equal sales or popularity. Somehow, 2016's Rose Quartz was a big bust. In the meantime, if you want to fit in, you might look to Allure magazine's suggestion. After the Pantone announcement, they offered new hair coloring as a way to blend in!

What are your thoughts on this topic? -ND

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Chat with Rachel Spence of Fair Trade Federation

I thought it would be fun to know a little bit more about Rachel Spence, the Engagement Manager at Fair Trade Federation. I asked her if I could interview her for this blog. She graciously said yes, and today, she was my victim ;). My goal was to learn a bit more about her and find out what had motivated her to work in 'fair-trade'.

LinkedIn seemed a good place to start when prepping for my chat with Rachel. I loved learning that she had studied for her Masters Degree in International Affairs at George Washington University and worked at the DC - UN offices during those years. (I softened her up by mentioning that my nephew had also studied at GW and loved it.) I wondered if there was a life experience that attracted her to this course of study. Rachel mentioned that growing up in Delaware had a great deal to do with that choice.  She stated that many international headquarters are based in Delaware and as a kid she was ever-cognizant of their presence. That, family vacations abroad (she specifically mentioned loving Mexico) and  frequent trips to a Ten Thousand Villages store kindled her interests in world affairs.

One of Rachel's first gigs was working at United States Council for International Business, a trade association that assists larger corporations with issues concerning gender equality and labor rights. She spoke enthusiastically about this experience.  I also garnered she had a light bulb moment while working at USCIB. Rachel recognized that she wanted to work with small businesses where she felt she would have a greater impact for change. A volunteer opportunity at RUNA, a producer of fair trade tea and energy drinks put her boots on the ground in Ecuador where she helped them through the fair trade certification process.

Rachel joined the staff of Fair Trade Federation during the summer of 2016. And that is when I met her.  She along with other FTF staffers visited NY Now, (a wholesale trade show) to meet and greet with those FTF members exhibiting at the show. That might have been one of her first activities working at FTF. And I learned in our conversation that such activities are some of her favorites. Rachel told me she feeds off meeting members in person at trade shows and gatherings such as the annual Fair Trade Federation conference. Mingling with FTF members (nearly 250 companies now) amplifies her voice and enthusiasm. She's all about educating the public about fair trade and creating visibility for FTF and its members. [Photo to the right was taken at NY Now. I'm on the far left. Rachel is on the far right.]

Now the fun stuff! I asked Rachel to tell me about her favorite fair trade items she uses in her every day life. Right off the bat she mentioned that she's all about jewelry and clothing. You know I wasn't going to have any of that. I insisted on specifics! Phew!  Maybe it's lip service. Rachel mentioned she adores the two pair of Dunitz & Company Joanie M fused glass earrings she owns. (Note, she's wearing a pair in the first photo posted above.) She also described a beige and brown handbag she carries each and every day that comes from Manos Zapotecas, another Fair Trade Federation member.  It was clear she owns many fair trade adornments and it was not a simple task to select a favorite.

The thing is Rachel wants everyone to enjoy fair trade pretties as much as she does. And as Engagement Manager for FTF, she's continually finding new ways to communicate to the world about just how great fair trade items can be.  Just yesterday she was an integral part of a "Twitter" conversation focused on holiday shopping.  If you were on twitter yesterday, and you didn't know about the Fair Trade Federation Holiday Guide, you may very well know about it now. There are oodles of fashion, food and home decor items featured. Luscious items.  Haven't finished your shopping? Check it out. Dunitz & Company's fused glass cuffs can't be missed!

It was at this point we digressed a bit. Rachel shared with me her love for her 2 year old, possibly Labrador/MinPin X rescue dog, Ivy.  And then of course, I had to brag about my two Doberman rescues, Stetson and Ida.  Dogs? Don't get me started. But, at this point, I think both Rachel and I were operating on fumes. I mean, this can be tough for both interviewers and interviewees!

In closing, I asked Rachel what was the one thing she'd like people to know about fair trade. Guess what? That wasn't a simple question either. She left me with three thoughts.
  1.  Many companies working in fair trade spend a lot of energy focused on the well-being of our environment.  Yes, fair traders take care of people. She also wants everyone to know that when talking about fair trade, the environmentally friendly aspect of fair trade often is overlooked.
  2. She recognizes that people who support fair trade (with their pocketbooks) are most often interested in the stories of aid and support. But, just as important is the high quality and good design now available from fair trade producers.
  3. And finally, she mentioned it is easier to "shop fair trade" than ever before. This is the case because you can easily purchase great products on line and there are more and more (brick & mortar) shops and producers offering fair trade items. It's not always about coffee!  
Thank you Rachel for spending your morning (on the phone) with me. I really enjoyed our chat. Want to learn more about Fair Trade Federation, fair trade and FTF members?  Please check out the FTF site. There you'll be able to easily browse and learn so much more. -ND

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Favorite Instagram Feeds

I look at a lot of photos each and every day on Instagram. Between my @ndunitz feed and @shopdunitz feed, I breeze through nearly 2400 accounts of images. Yes, that is a load of images! I follow the retail shops that sell Dunitz fair trade jewelry. I watch sustainable and ethical bloggers. I track all sorts of fashionistas. I follow back - those that watch me. And at the end of the day, there are a few feeds that have become my favorites. Here are a few you might enjoy watching too. Note, none of these Instagramers have paid me for this mention.

Many of you know, I learned so much about fashion from my mother. She was my first teacher of fashion. As a kid, I watched her dress up for all sorts of social events that ranged from charity luncheons to gala dinner parties. She was a clothes horse and she looked good in everything. And she knew her designers.  I think this is why I've become so intrigued with Rachel Adelicia's Instagram feed. This girl rocks style. And it warms my heart to see her wear amazing vintage design.  I drool over the clothing she shows off.  I'm almost sure she has great relationships with some upscale resale shops. Women wearing beautiful clothing on IG are a dime a dozen. Rachel not only looks terrific in so many styles, she styles her shots very very well.  Seriously, she could be a magazine editor. She has a great eye. I sent her a message through IG recently asking her about her inspiration.  She responded to me that she loves looking at fashion advertisements in magazines and recreating the looks with vintage. Bravo, Rachel. Read her blog to learn more beyond the photos she shares on Instagram.

I love to eat. OK, most of us do! And I love to look at beautiful food. For this very reason, I watch a few foodie feeds on Instagram.  My favorite eye candy comes from Ivy Chin, who describes herself as a self taught and passionate cook. She uses edible flowers. Her works are full of amazing colors. And her combination of colors has inspired my jewelry design. You just NEVER know what will be the catalyst for design. I can't tell you how many times I've commented on Ivy's photos with "too pretty to eat."  Check out her feed and let me know if you agree.

Weaving tales in color seems to be a specialty of Emma Thomas. She's going through a pink phase right now. If you scroll through her feed you'll see lots of luscious and foggy colors. I loved her recent posts of hunter green images. She features yummy vintage time and time again.  And the filters she chooses create such a wonderful moody feel. I drool over many of her choices. And I know I'll never find or be able to afford many of the breathtaking designs she features.  So for now, I live vicariously through her feed. Love it, Emma!

Last year a friend of mine suggested I reach out to fashion bloggers on Instagram to see if I could obtain some visibility for Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry. I wrote to several women. Many ignored me. Several looked at our website and emailed specifically which pieces of ours they'd love to own and model. Others left it up to us. Rie Victoria Aoki was one of the women I contacted. At the time, she posted several photos on Instagram and on her blog wearing Dunitz jewelry. Since that time, her's has become one of my favorite feeds to watch on Instagram. And clearly, I'm not alone. Her followers have been growing exponentially. Why? Because this is one woman who has it going on. She's stunning. She has style. And, from experience, I can tell you she is lovely too. Add her to your IG list! She will inspire your style.

Please share with me your favorite Instagram feeds. I'd love to watch what you find most inspiring. And of course don't forget to follow ours.-ND

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How did Dunitz & Company get in the Holiday Guides?

It's hard work! I've been doing my very best to get Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry some visibility in this season's magazines and holiday guides. I had no idea what a challenge it would be. I also know as consumers change the way they make their purchases (more often than ever people are shopping online) it is imperative that Dunitz & Company grows a, however small, online retail presence. Without developing an additional arm to our business, maintaining the business and sustaining our artisans becomes more difficult.

Perhaps some of my ideas will help you in your business. Perhaps you'll have some ideas for us! In May, I signed up for several months with a service called Media Leads. For $99.00/month, this service provides editor and blogger requests for pitches. It's easy to use and many quality reporters use this service. I also signed up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) which now emails me three times per day with requests for information. Most aren't applicable to a fair trade jewelry business. Every once in a while, a blogger requests information and/or samples where I know Dunitz & Company will be perfect.  Since May, I've emailed over 200 pitches (each requiring a follow-up). Unfortunately, just writing editors and bloggers doesn't result in publicity. It's a BIG numbers game. Often bloggers and editors ask for samples or high res photos and never use them. You can see the nods we've received in the Press sections of our websites. The Press section of the retail "Shop Dunitz" site only shows our consumer press nods.  The Press section of our wholesale "Dunitz" site also includes trade nods. My head swells as I add the accolades we've received.

Earlier this year, I initiated contact with several Instagram fashionistas and bloggers.  Many asked for samples. Many kept them as gifts and never posted or wrote about our work. Of course, this frustrated me to no end. If you check out the Blogger Posts on our website, you'll see that several women came through for us!

I'm determined. Keep watching us. The jury is out whether all of this hard work translates to sales. In the meantime, our web press sections are growing. And don't forget to shop for fair trade jewelry on our website! -ND