Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ann Ferguson: Talking Fair Trade Federation Membership

FTF's Ann Ferguson
Dunitz & Company has been a member of Fair Trade Federation for many years now. I often field questions about membership and advise ethical businesses to join. And then I refer them to Ann Ferguson, the Membership Manager of FTF. Ann joined the staff of FTF in 2014 and she IS the person who can shed the most light on the ins and outs of membership. I recently asked Ann if she'd be willing to chat with me about Fair Trade Federation, the membership application process and well, a little bit about her. She graciously said yes and we scheduled a (long) phone call.

I always have fun asking people to tell me about themselves. If you know me at all, you know I'm a pretty good interviewer. And so on this afternoon, it seemed most appropriate to ask Ann what motivated her to pursue a career in fair trade. I learned that after Ann graduated college at Indiana University in Bloomington, she spent a summer living in the slums of Bangkok, Thailand, as part of a service learning program. She told me it was absolutely transformative when she experienced first-hand how small businesses working directly with artisans made a huge difference in their lives. She saw how people that would otherwise have no work to support themselves were taught to make scarves, key-chains and other handicrafts. This training allowed them to make a living and with dignity, take care of themselves and their families.

Once back in the States, Ann knew she wanted to continue supporting fair trade. And immediately she was disappointed she couldn't find any venues in Southern Indiana (where she was living at that time) that sold fair trade goods. After a bit of research she discovered a local church that also yearned to build a fair trade business. She jumped in and she became part of the "we" that ultimately formed Old North Fair Trade Market. Old North Fair Trade Market is a member of Fair Trade Federation.

Ann said it wasn't tough at all for her to pack her bags and relocate to Delaware for her position at Fair Trade Federation. (I think she was quite brave.) Being surrounded with a community of like-minded people made her feel right at home. In 2014 she was hired to help manage and develop the FTF membership screening process. And today, although her responsibilities have grown, she is still involved with membership.

Ann & Me, NY Now
When prospects reach out to me, they always seem to have the same questions. What are the benefits of joining FTF? Can you tell me about the membership application process? The process feels so daunting. How long does it take? Are there obvious deal-breakers that would preclude me from being accepted into the fold?  And since I had Ann captive on the line, I thought best to ask her these same questions.

I liked that Ann reached back to her own experiences working with Old North, a fair trade retailer to explain the benefits of membership. She explained that being part of a larger movement and a feeling of connectivity to that movement was invaluable. She explained that being part of this larger community provided lots of resources for education, mentoring and collaborations with other members. And the annual conference with so many informative seminars and  the chance to meet wholesale "fair trade" superstars (could that be me?) was a huge benefit for them (as retailers). She mentioned in particular how useful it was when her colleagues at Old North met a few people running another fair trade church store at the annual conference. Their issues were similar to the ones they experienced at Old North and brainstorming together was so helpful.
FTF Conference Mingling

Ann understands that so many applicants are overwhelmed when they consider applying for membership. They have the impression that the paperwork requirements are endless. She explains that the process is easily broken down by the FTF principles and Code Of Practice and she is always happy to guide applicants through the process. She was clear with me, she is not a babysitter (a word I love to use in jest) or a coach. "I'm a cheerleader." Ann always recommends applicants reach out for their business references first to start the process. She stresses there is no reason to struggle. "If an applicant approaches it one principle at a time, it shouldn't feel so cumbersome."  Ann also reiterated that she is only a phone call away to help out. Assuming yours is a business that is working directly with farmers and artists or a business that buys from one that does, Ann will gladly help you explain how to explain what you do.  Once an application has been completed it takes 2-4 months for evaluation.

As I bombarded Ann with questions, I learned things I hadn't known.  The screening process is not completed by FTF staff.  And it is not completed by the FTF Board. In fact, these people don't even see the applications. There actually is a screening committee, all Fair Trade Federation members, appointed by the FTF Board. The committee members actually go through training themselves, and these anonymous members evaluate the membership applications.

Ann said there are two basic requirements that some businesses most struggle with. One involves paying promptly and fairly. (It might be that an applicant hasn't figured out how to determine a fair wage in the community in which they work.) The other is explaining how farmers and artisans are growing in their capacity to lead and sustain businesses for long-term autonomy, their own well-being, and the health of their communities. Ann was quite precise. To be admitted to FTF, a business must live by and follow all of the FTF principles and Code Of Practice.  If anything seems vague in an application (to the screening committee), the applying company will be given an opportunity to clarify any script they've submitted. Ann stressed to me that FTF wants potential members to succeed. And if there is something that needs improvement in the way any business operates, she not always, but often encourages prospects to re-apply after they've adjusted their practices.

Ann is often approached by individuals wanting to start a new fair trade business.  First, she told me that any new business must wait at least one year before applying for FTF membership.  She also explained that sometimes the preparation (for the FTF screening) for a new business is often easier than one that's been operating for many years. She explained when a business is brand spanking new, they can put processes in place, right off the bat, that follow FTF core principles.

But what about the money? If a company's gross sales is $75,000 or less annually, their FTF dues will be $250.  Seems easy enough to me.  She also said that if any prospect is concerned, they can refer to the dues calculator on the FTF website which shows how dues are based on a sliding scale. The dues schedule for membership was designed by members to be affordable and equitable. (I agree that it is.)

And now it was time to chatter about fun stuff.  It does seem as if most of us work all the time. (It seems I do.) I asked Ann what she does in her spare time. I was impressed to learn she is a voracious reader. She says she typically reads forty books in a year.  This year she challenged herself to read 80. She confessed she's only at 52, which means she has some serious work if she's going to reach her goal. She also told me she's devoured several selections from Oprah's reading list. My take away from this was 2 things. First, if I'm ever looking for a good book to read, I'll ask Ann for a recommendation.  And second, I suggested we might start a FTF virtual book club. (I recently joined a New York University Alumni virtual book club. We are given 2-3 months to read the selections.) 
FTF Wholesale Guide

Finally, I had to ask Ann what her favorite design was from Dunitz & Company. She confessed that she's browsed the Dunitz & Company site often enough to know she adores our Circle & Triangle Hoops.  She also mentioned having a soft spot for our Joanie M fused glass studs that were recently featured in the 2019/2020 Fair Trade Federation Wholesale Guide. Here's my FTF plug if you're reading my post and you own or buy for a retail store. Use this guide. You'll find so many great ideas from so many ethical vendors. 'Nuff said. If you're a FTF prospective member, I encourage you to come on board. After all, you've got Ann Ferguson to guide you through the process. -ND

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bright White - A Must for Spring 2020

Seems Dunitz & Company will be right on trend for Spring 2020. NYFW (New York Fashion Week) still has a few days to go, and one thing is clear. White clothing will be everywhere next season. Harper's Bazaar editors highlight 'Le White Suit' in their recent trend report. Me? After scouring the shows online, I noticed a prevalence of pheasant type necklines. These pant suits on the right are offered up by Tori Burch, Mara Hoffman and Adeam. Don't worry your pretty little head. When the time is right, Dunitz & Company will be offering plenty of white fused glass and seed bead earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

NYFW - White on Trend

And here are a few more runway looks to prove my point. Bright White is a must for Spring 2020. From left to right, starting from the top. Dennis Basso. Gabriela Hearst. Herve Leger. Cushnie. Anna Sui. Alexander Wang. Cynthia Rowley. Josie Natori. Sally LaPointe. Ya gotta see what I mean, no?

White was "big" for Spring 2019. It will be even bigger for 2020. I was amazed when one retailer we sell to told me that they kept receiving special requests for our white fused glass earrings all (this) summer long. Are you a Dunitz retailer? If so, keep this in mind when you place your Spring 2020 orders.

Do you know it hasn't been since Spring 2012 that I've offered a true white combination in our seed bead collection? I've offered off-white, combinations with beige - but not white-white. Well we'll definitely have it for 2020.

White on White - Joanie M Fused Glass

And you better believe our white color combo for our Joanie M fused glass will return next spring! With a hint of silver, it's perfect.

Stay tuned to Dunitz & Company blog. (You can even sign up and have our posts emailed to you. Follow this link and look to the bottom right of the page.) I'm sure I'll be highlighting some other fashionable colors that you'll want to plan for. How? Either by having appropriate clothing in your own closet for your own pleasure. Or in your store, for the pleasure of others.-ND

Friday, August 23, 2019

NY NOW and My Favorite Show Neighbors

Me. Dunitz & Company Booth
This summer's NY Now is now behind us. It's hard to believe that Dunitz & Company has been exhibiting at this show since February 1990! Let's not count up those years. The one thing that I can tell you is attending the trade shows is a little bit like going to summer camp. Each season we all arrive with big smiles and hugs for our "regulars," our trade show friends. We catch up and visit for the days of the show. Often we break bread together. And when it’s over we all pack up, hug again, knowing next time will come soon. Do you understand my reference to summer camp?

Some of my favorite trade show friends had booth locations near me this past show. And if you don’t know them you should. First and foremost, these peeps are good people. Friendly. Fun. Kind. And, if you’re a retailer, you need to know their product. Why? Because these friends of mine have fabulous offerings. And they’re all ethical vendors.

Poonam, Nancy, Harish
Harish and Poonam from Sustainable Threads have been some of my Fair Trade Federation colleague favorites for just about forever. Well, for at least all the time Dunitz & Company has also been a Fair Trade Federation member. They're warm and supportive and always helpful. They design and sell fabulous table linens and home decor textiles that are ethically made in India. And Poonam is always trying to feed me. What could be better than a show neighbor who is always trying to pawn off delicious home-cooking?

Nancy, Joan, Kovida
Joan and Kovida from Sevya also work with artisans in India and are Fair Trade Federation members too. Their goodies target fashionistas. They offer an amazing array of scarves and some scrumptious tunic tops. If you sell wearables, you should definitely check them out. These woman also know all the best Indian Restaurants in New York City. Do you think I'm getting hungry as I type this post? If I want a southern Indian meal, and I want company, I know where to look.

Samir, Nancy, Marion
The NY Now angels knew what they were doing when they placed Samir from Socco Designs near me a couple of years ago. He's quite savvy and from the moment we met, we easily shared business ideas and information. But what I like most about him is he's kind, honest and funny. He feels like family. Socco Designs covers a lot of ground. They offer classy designs that hail from Morocco. Home decor and fashion. Got a lifestyle store? Check them out.  If you're reading this blog, you probably know me pretty well. You know I'm a natural interviewer. From all I've learned, I'm certain Socco treats their artisans fairly.

Nancy, Seema, Dhruti
Seema and Dhruti from Trovelore definitely make my list of favorites. They've been favorites for quite some time. And it wasn't until this past show that their booth was only a few yards from mine. Lucky me.  Trovelore and Dunitz & Company are both members of Museum Store Association, and it was within this community that we became acquainted. Seema and I actually were roommates last season at the MSA Forward in San Diego. You definitely get to know someone well when you share a room! These women are so kind and also nurturing. If you don't know their product line, you must. They design the most exquisite beaded pins - many butterflies and bugs. And I know beadwork!

Nancy, Ann
Anything Fair Trade Federation always makes me feel proud. The staff of FTF works tirelessly to educate the public about sustainability and fair trade. It's a huge job.  One way they do this is to staff a Fair Trade Display which is often situated in the lobby of Javits convention center. That's a lot of talking and explaining that goes on over the course of the trade show. One morning I arrived early and spotted Ann, FTF's membership manager tidying up the display.  She's a sweetheart. I'm always referring potential members to her. She's definitely a favorite.

Dunitz Fair Trade Jewelry
And now I diverge from favorite people to share a few selfish tidbits about Dunitz & Company and the show that just past. NY Now staff juried those to be featured in WFTO - Fair Trade Federation Display. Our beaded and embroidered bracelet and earrings from Guatemala were featured. Plug: If you haven't sold these in your store, I encourage you to consider them. They're right on trend and some great sellers.

Dunitz, destination:new display
Dunitz & Company was also selected for the destination:new display at NY Now.  We launched a new Contemporary Colors collection this season. I was completely impressed with how our earrings were featured in this display. (Aren't you?) We're offering these modern pieces in several color combinations. I was thrilled that a few museums and lifestyle stores honed in on them.

And what is so fun, is a few stores ordered them because some of the color combinations perfectly reflected schemes of their local high school, college and professional teams. In our booth, you could find these two-tone hipster pieces in several shapes including rectangles, circles, teardrops and square studs.

NY Now debuted fashion runway shows this season. Each morning gorgeous women and men strutted their stuff in the Crystal Palace (main lobby) of the Javits Center.  And then they strutted their stuff down the exhibition aisles. Well in advance of the show, in hopes of inclusion, I (and I'm sure oodles of others) submitted designs for consideration. Farai Simoyi, a world-renowned designer curated the event. And I was thrilled that our Coral Necklace and Embroidered Pendant Necklaces were selected.What's even more luscious is Zie was the perfect model of our jewelry. This gorgeous and warm-hearted woman stopped by our booth a couple of times and volunteered to have her photo snapped. If you're "about" fashion, you must check out her Instagram account. She's done some amazing editorial stuff.

NY Now Recap Pin
So there you have it. Dunitz & Company always has a great time showing off fair trade jewelry at NY Now. And we always love seeing our show friends. Stay tuned. Camp will be in session again next February and I'm sure I'll have other wonderful neighbors to tell you about.-ND

Friday, August 2, 2019

Fair World Project's Anna Canning Speaks

Anna Canning
Keeping Fair Trade Real. That's the motto of Fair World Project, a group advocating fair trade for small-scale producers and labor justice for workers around the world. As owner (and designer) of fair trade jewelry producer, Dunitz & Company, I'm always curious to see what others are doing around the globe. I've been blown away by the impact Fair World Project has made. And this lead me to a conversation with Anna Canning. Anna is the Campaigns Manager for FWP. I was certain that many of you would want to know more about FWP's impact and Anna agreed to be interviewed. Keep reading to hear what she had to say.

NANCY: I'm only recently acquainted with Fair World Project. Unlike Fair Trade Federation and WFTO that are membership organizations, yours focuses on advocacy. Can you tell me about that?

ANNA: That's a good distinction! We do a lot of work both with fair traders and with others working for fair trade, worker justice, and human rights around the globe, mostly within the food and farming (sector). Buying fair trade products and supporting companies that are committed to fair trade is a great way for people to start getting involved.  But the reality is that fair trade farmers and artisans and workers around the world are touched by many issues. A fair market and good trading partners are very important, but there are a lot of things from climate change to unjust trade agreements and discriminatory laws that make it hard. Farmer organizations and worker groups around the world are doing amazing organizing. They have the solutions for the challenges that face their communities. A lot of our advocacy is amplifying those voices and those solutions and bringing people together in conversation.

NANCY: Can you tell me a bit more about your "For A Better World Magazine". How do you decide what to write about? And who and how can potential readers get their hands on this publication?

For A Better World
ANNA: Our For A Better World magazine is one of our biggest educational projects. It comes out twice a year with a print run of 200,000 copies and then downloads from all over the world.  You can find it online, or in local natural food stores, fair trade shops and Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. and Canada.  We also send cases to student groups, group living facilities, faith groups and activists. Anyone who can distribute a case of 100, we love having them help us get the word out. Just drop us a line (at the links here.)

We have an editorial team who helps us curate topics, usually inspired by things we see happening in the world. Sometimes it's a topic that's getting a lot of buzz, sometimes it's a topic that should be getting more.  The current issue was inspired by a coalition that we are part of working on the Real Meals Campaign, advocating for change in the cafeteria systems at universities. Their menus are currently dominated by Big Food companies and we're collectively pushing for them to choose "Real Meals" instead, food that is fair, local, eco-friendly, and doesn't exploit people on the way. We got inspired by that call and in addition to a story on that campaign, there are others profiling the people, organizations, and companies who are living those values and building an alternative to the conventional food systems right now.

NANCY: It appears that FWP has had several 'victories' in advocacy. Is there one you're most proud of? Or you think has had the greatest impact on the greater good?

Stop the TPP Rally
 ANNA: In some ways, it's tough for me to point to a single victory that I would name as "ours." For me, I'm most proud of the ways that we have worked, and continue to work in coalitions with others. We can't claim that we single-handedly stopped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but working with hundreds, if not thousands, of other groups, we managed to shift the public dialogue to say no to a trade deal putting corporate profits ahead of people. I'm also really proud when I see how the Good Food Purchasing Program continues to spread across the country. We had a role in the development of those standards, and are members of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. It's another way that people have so much power when they come together and push for change.

We have also been working on a campaign supporting an independent farmworker union on a Fyffes' melon plantation in Honduras, with allies including the International Labor Rights Forum. They have been organizing against appalling worker conditions for over a decade: workers haven't been paid wages or benefits earned, pregnant workers have been illegally fired, workers who have tried to stand up for their rights have been assaulted. Their struggle continues. We were horrified when Fair Trade USA went ahead and certified the plantation as "fair trade" last year and launched a campaign to get them to decertify. After nearly 10,000 messages were sent, they finally did the right thing and dropped their certification. That attention forced the Ethical Trading Initiative to finalize their expulsion of Fyffes and they are getting kicked out of supermarkets in Europe too. It's too soon to proclaim victory, but we hope the tide is turning. Overall in the U.S., we think a lot about local food, but then there are all the fruits that we get imported, melons in the winter, bananas, pineapple - and folks really know so little about where those come from. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

NANCY: Your site highlights several alert areas where you ask the public to get involved, or at the least educate themselves. Is there any one specific cause you're most passionate about?

Stand With Coffee Farmers
ANNA: We have an alert right now asking folks to sign in solidarity with small-scale coffee farmers who have issued a really urgent call to action: "We cannot live on $0.90 per pound." I worked in fair trade coffee for almost 15 years before I joined Fair World Project. When I started in coffee, we were talking about how the commodity market where coffee was traded was so distant from farmers' daily realities and the cost of production. And we're still having those conversations now.  I have met so many amazing people whose livelihoods depend on coffee and so I feel really strongly about supporting them. Hopefully you will sign the FWP petition in support. Click here. 

NANCY: I'm impressed that there are so many of you that staff FWP. And you're the Campaign Manager. You've a tough job. Do you fund raise from corporations that may not be 100% fair trade? or are you a fantastic grant writer?

ANNA: I actually don't do our fundraising, that's our Executive Director's job. But we have very high standards for who we would take money from, and definitely fair trade is a key part of that.

NANCY: Yours is a pretty intense job Can you tell me what you do for fun in your free time?

ANNA: I love my job so much, but it can be very intangible.  The change we are working for is slow, and on many days it feels like a lot of writing and a lot of phone calls. As an antidote to that, I love to make things, knitting, sewing, dyeing and gardening. I also spend a lot of time sitting and typing so (I enjoy) getting outside for walking, biking, hiking, yoga.

NANCY: Anything else you'd like to share?

ANNA: Thank you for the opportunity to share with you and your readers. My final words would just be to encourage people to do just one thing to express their values every day.
--end of interview-- 

I'm totally with Anna on that one. "Do one thing to express your values every day." Love it! No one person can change the world. Collectively our small contributions make a huge difference.

If you aren't familiar with the Fair World Project website, I strongly encourage you to check it out. There's a wealth of information on so many topics.  I think their simple guide to Fair Trade & Worker Justice Certifications is really helpful. It seems each time I go shopping, I see new stickers on the food I purchase. This guide explains them all.
Mission Driven Brands

Looking for Mission Driven Brands? Fair World Project has screened many food, clothing and craft vendors. I'm thrilled to say Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry is listed. If you have a store, you might find a new, ethical resource here.

Thank you so much to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions with so much thought. I'm certain she has shed light on several topics we all wanted to know more about. -ND






Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Museum Store Association Gallery at LA Mart: A First

Nancy & Daedre
I was there. Dunitz & Company was there. And Museum Store Association was there. Where? The LA Mart temps. Thanks are due Daedre Berryman of Studio Daedre (Western Region, Chapter Vendor Advisor) who worked tirelessly coordinating with LA Mart staff. Her efforts resulted in a new dedicated gallery for MSA vendor members to show off their wares. A shout out to Nora Wade from the LA Mart as well. Nora's the staff that definitely made the gallery "happen"!

MSA Table
Up front and center was our group's table offering information about Museum Store Association. Retailers grabbed available materials including copies of Museum Store magazine. We fielded their questions. I must say, Mary Lind from World Finds was particularly helpful in this department.


Ribbon Cutting
What was really wonderful was the placement of the Museum Store Association gallery. We all were the first thing buyers saw when they entered the "Temp" section of the show. LA Mart even staged a ribbon cutting to announce our new section. Follow the red arrow. Susan Tudor, MSA President (Cummer Museum) was right there in the middle of the welcoming crowd. See the tie dye and costumes? Mart staff dressed for the theme of this market,"Summer of Love". (A DJ in the Mart lobby, just outside of our room, was spinning lots of 60s tunes. Occasionally you'd find one of us bopping to a favorite tune.)

Dunitz Table & Me
Tables were reasonably priced, allowing several MSA members to exhibit. I'm based in Los Angeles, so for me, this was a no-brainer.  The affordability encouraged some out of towners to throw their hats in the ring as well.  It's amazing what one can manage with a 6' table. I'm still shocked that I could effectively show off so many Dunitz fair trade designs on such a small space. By comparison, I have a 15' booth at NY Now.  (Didn't make it to Los Angeles? Find Dunitz & Company at NY Now in Booth 1758, Global Handmade.)

MSA Group Shot
So here's the thing. It will take time to grow a new section of the show, both in terms of exhibitors and buyers. I'm willing to ride the wave. I met new buyers this week, including a few from museums. And I wrote orders with a few. Even if the market seemed slow, in the end, I wrote more than enough business to justify my time and expenses. I believe most of us in the MSA section did. [Photo here includes from L>R, Me, Susan Tudor, Daedre Barryman, Mary Lind Mahmud, Jennifer Barnella]

Another bonus of a smaller show? You get to know some of your neighbors really well! One morning Krista from Krista Bermeo Studio brought in homemade tamales from a vendor selling near her AirBnB. Those were seriously yummy... & her jewelry is in my opinion completely drool-worthy. Pat from Chick Boss designs a line that is made, like mine, in Guatemala. Her metal creations look nothing like what I do and they're fabulous. Gosh, the artisans in Guatemala are amazing. Kenny from Gallery Drinkware was a total delight. And talk about small world.  My niece, Helen Gotlib (an amazing artist, BTW) moved from her Ann Arbor, Main Street home a few years ago because it was being torn down to build condos. Turns out Kenny's in-laws bought one of those condos and occasionally receive Helen's mail.
I also spent some time chatting with exhibitors from permanent showrooms. (They came downstairs to the Temps to check us out.) I loved that they were so positive about the MSA Gallery. They all believe that growing a section such as ours is good for everyone. What smart people they are! They know if more museum buyers attend the LA Mart, that's more potential quality business for all of them. One larger company owner even suggested the Mart should reduce our table fees.

Instagram Story
In typical fashion, I also spent some energy promoting the LA Mart and MSA Gallery on social media. This was my favorite IG Story post. Sara and others were all decked out in psychedelic clothing and in the hall directing buyers and answering their questions.

Los Angeles Mart
At the end of the day, one of the things I enjoy most is working with my customers. I love seeing buyers I've worked with for years. And I very much enjoy acquainting myself with those new to me. And now I want to sing! "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold." Perhaps you'll join Dunitz & Company at the LA Mart in January 2020 to do the same. -ND

MSA-LA Mart Pin

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fearless Fashion at the Skirball: Rudi Gernreich

Gernreich at Skirball
You know I love fashion. And like many of you, I always check out costume and wardrobe exhibitions at local museums. "Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich" is currently on view at the Skirball Cultural Center, and it's well worth taking in. If you anywhere near Los Angeles, don't miss it. While at the museum, definitely check out their museum store. They offer lots of fabulous fair trade Judaica including Dunitz kippot. (Shameless plug.)

Mod Gernreich Designs
But I digress. Rudi Gernreich was a pioneer in fashion in the 60's and 70's. When you see the clothing on display you'll be reminded of Twiggy. More than Twiggy, this exhibition reminded me of my mom. Joanie M (who I named our fused glass collection after) was a total fashion plate. She would have worn Rudi Gernreich designs in a heartbeat. Or maybe she did. Or for sure, she wore clothing inspired by his creations. See these bright dresses? Much of our fair trade jewelry would coordinate perfectly with some of today's similar mod looks.

Patti & Nancy
Perhaps it was me who wore Rudi look-a-like outfits. Yes, I'm the one that looks like a little boy standing with my best friend Patti. Same neon green. Do you remember culottes? And the oversized zipper. Very Rudi.

Unisex Clothing Styles
The best thing about Rudi Gernreich was his forward thinking visions. He introduced the topless swimsuit, the thong, unisex clothing and pantsuits for women. Ah, pantsuits for women. I'm assuming his equal rights for all attitude evolved after he emigrated to the USA. Gernreich had fled Nazi Germany for being Jewish and later experienced discrimination in the United States for being gay. In Los Angeles, he found community while dancing with the Lester Horton Dance Theater, an interracial dance troupe.

Mixing Fashion with Politics
Opinions. Yes. Quoted. Yes. Quoted on the walls of the Skirball. Yes. Rudi Gernreich was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization. That was back when many hid their proclivities. Gernreich designed military styled ready-to-wear in protest of the Vietnam war. He designed thong bathing suits for men and women in protest of Los Angeles banning nude beaches. What more details on the life and times of Rudi Gernreich? Read these recent articles from the Los Angeles Times and Women's Wear Daily.

Satin Pantsuit & Pearls
So get on over to the Skirball Cultural Center if you're anywhere near the City of Angels. You won't regret the trip. I can't possibly share in photos the over 80 ensembles featured. The show closes September 1st. (You still have time.) What will amaze you, as it did me, is how so many of the designs are completely wearable today. If only I had my mom's clothing from her 1960's and 1970's closet.  I might find a satin pantsuit like this one.

Dunitz fair trade kippot
Did I tell you to visit Audrey's, the Skirball store? Yes, I did. But, heck, I'm telling you again. There you'll find Dunitz & Company's fair trade kippot. You will love seeing them up close and personal. (Yes, I had to plug for that one more time.) -ND

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Instagramers You Don't Know & Worth Following

Me at the Fair Trade Federation Conference
I work tirelessly on social media, all in an effort to get Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry noticed. The Shop Dunitz Instagram feed seems to steal a lot of my attention. Unfortunately posting pretty pics of our jewelry and models wearing our jewelry only seems a small part of the effort. Growing an engaging, interesting and interested following seems near impossible. I like interacting with other users. I follow accounts I think I may find interesting or those I think should know about Dunitz & Company. Sometimes these accounts follow back and dialog with me. Most don't. And honestly, if they're not interested in interacting, I typically move on. Gotta say, I enjoy the give and take. I've never paid for followers or for bot programs that interact with accounts impersonating me. (I've considered the latter. But it seems so unnatural to me when bots comment on my photos.) So what's a girl to do?

It is estimated that there are over 100 million accounts on Instagram. Can you believe it? The sheer volume of images and information passing through my feed and/or #hashtag searches makes it a daunting task to find those I identify with and/or choose to learn something from.

If you're interested in saving our environment, thrifting or conservation, here are 10 Instagramers I've discovered to be engaging and engaged. None of them seem to be gamers. Just amazing humans sharing good information. I'd love to support their efforts and hope their voices will be heard a bit louder. In no particular order. No targeted editorial comments. Just my recommendation to follow and dialog.

Devi Speaks from the Heart
1. developingstyleblog

Matt to the Point
2. sustainablematt 

Wonderful Thrifted Finds
3. slow_fashion_finder 

Updated and Upcycled
4. nonewness 

Let's Help Clean Our Oceans
 5. ethicellie

Bonnie Promotes Natural Wellness
6. conscious.chica

Eco Tips & Suggestions
7. thewiseconsumer

Hates Plastic. Yes!
8. msatx.livesgreen

9. conscious_49   

Solutions to Using Less Plastic
10. lets_savetheplanet 

After you've followed these accounts for a while, please let me know what you think of them. If you have some Instagram accounts you think I'd enjoy interacting with, I'd sure appreciate the recommendations.  If you're not watching the Dunitz & Company Instagram feed, please do. If you're seeking  fair trade jewelry  for you or for a gift, please consider one of my beautiful designs from Guatemala. (Yeh, I had to end with that!) Thanks all. Thanks for reading. - ND