Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Day of the Dead Inspires Next Year's Colors

I'm crazy for colors. Bright colors. Neutral colors. Primary colors. Unusual colors. And I adore pairing all types of shades to find the most pleasing combinations for Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry collection. That's why when I was on a recent vacation in San Miguel de Allende smack dab during Day of the Dead festivities, I snapped endless photographs of color everywhere. Here are a few that might inspire next year's color combinations. And besides, I wanted to share these fun images with you.

Cempasuchil flowers flourish in every altar, hairband and costume. And trust me, during this time of year there are endless altars, hairbands and costumes. The orange is bright and festive. And it seems to combine very well with teal blue and several shades of purple. Worth remembering.

If you've been a fan of Dunitz & Company's jewelry collection for many years, you have noticed that I am often the queen of neutral color combinations. This skeleton with her lace veil shows how black, white and peachy flesh tones work really well together.

Check out this lucky sighting. I was outside and in front of the entrance of San Miguel de Allende's smaller cemetery (not far from the central garden square) on Friday the 1st, Day of the Dead. We followed a parade with hundreds of people in costumes and musicians as they headed to this area replete with altars and decorations. This photo captures a small section of a very large decorated monument.  What I was drawn to was the vibrant sapphire blue combined with shades of deep gold. A light bulb moment for me.

Brunch food often boasts great color. One of my favorite dining discoveries in San Miguel was Lavanda Cafe. When you visit, go early. There's always a line. When I saw how the clay pot, egg yolks, bacon, tomatoes and greens looked together, I immediately thought of rich fall fashion colors.

Bright colors are everywhere in San Miguel. And sometimes you can find ones that are more subtle. Even up on walls. I had rented an airBnB in Colonia Guadalupe. This area of San Miguel is known for murals. Check out the earthy shades of brown on this one.  I love shades of brown. For me there is nothing boring here at all!

This green beauty with her magical eyes is stunning. But, it was the paint below her that caught my attention. Shades of tan, caramel with soft blues and greys. Yup. That's a Nancy sophisticated color combination in the works.

I've very often been afraid of too many bright bright colors. When I first started working in Guatemala in the late 80's/early 90's, I was amused by some of the vibrant color combinations I discovered. For Guatemalan taste, it seemed brighter was better. And it seemed the more colors used in any textile or painting was even better. This was challenging for me since I often leaned toward monochromatic color combinations.  Years later, my colleagues in Guatemala have toned it down.  And I believe American tastes have allowed for a bit more jazz.

Another skeleton. Another sombrero. This Day of the Dead lady is decked out in vibrant purple and fuchsia pink. Purple. Pink. Got it. We might have to tone down the pink, though. I've learned over the years that most of the glass beads we've been able to source in vibrant pink don't hold their color. The color fades and often rubs off. (We're always careful about our quality control, and this has always been a concern of ours.)

I had to share this photo! On Halloween night, this was the most handsome couple I laid eyes on.  In the past, I have paired green and gold together, and successfully so. Honestly, these skeleton costumes are a bit bright. Tone down the shades, and I know it works.

Believe it or not, this was the very first photo I snapped on my recent trip to San Miguel de Allende. It was morning and not that early. How I managed this pic without a single person in the frame amazes me. I wanted to capture the waving prayer flags. Does this image show off great bright primary colors or what? And the vibrant buildings in the background. Perfection. Viva la Mexico and all of it's color.

Want to see how my travel adventures affect my design work? Check out our fair trade jewelry line and the colors we offer. And check us out often.  Let us know if you think my trip to San Miguel de Allende influenced any of our recent offerings. -ND

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Personal Story - A Wannabe Artist

My First Portrait
From the time I was very young I was told I was artistic. I was the "artist" of our family. I was also told I could not make a living (financially support myself) being an artist. Yes, I took art classes in high school and an occasional jewelry making or ceramics course during summer vacations. When I begged my parents to send me to Interlochen Arts Camp, I was told it wasn't possible. Art School (university level) after high school was definitely not practical. [Check out this drawing to the right. It's dated 1970 on the back, which suggests I was 12 when it was drawn. I'm guessing it's probably from a couple of years after that when I took a drawing class in high school.]

I'm the person you always call when you need to make a choice of color chips for house painting. Need to pair an outfit together for a special occasion? I'm your girl. I've always had 'good taste' and 'good style.' In the 1980's, I took a few classes at UCLA, in their Interior Design Program. (Yes, I considered this career first, before I left my then financial position at MGM/UA to launch my fair trade jewelry business, Dunitz & Company.) Other than that, I've never had any formal art education.

Isis and Nancy
Recently, I was desperate for a vacation. I hadn't been able to recruit a travel companion. I wracked my brain for ideas of things I might enjoy. I often wish I would discipline myself to draw and/or write poetry. So began my mission...to find a class focused on either, located in an interesting destination and offered at a time I could travel. And after much searching, I discovered Maestro Isis Rodriguez. Isis was offering a 5 day intensive drawing class in San Miguel de Allende with a focus on Day of the Dead. Perfect! Air ticket bought. AirBnB booked. Class paid for. I was on my way to experiencing my first real art instruction.

For me the experience was extraordinary. For five days, all I did was draw. I was so completely focused on my artwork, my mind never wandered. I didn't think (much) about my dogs. I didn't worry about Dunitz & Company. I didn't dwell on the daily news reports from CNN or MSNBC. Now, that IS vacation! 

Model, Ysenia
Right off the bat, we (depending on the day, there were 2-4 of us under the watchful eye of Isis) were presented with Ysenia, a beautiful indigenous model. She was decked out in traditional clothing and a family heirloom headdress. We were told that 'the man of the house' would typically wear it for a special festival. And on this occasion, Ysenia wore it for us.

Considering, I've never had any significant art training, I will let my drawings from my 5 day course speak for themselves. I feel quite blessed to have had Isis lead me and teach me.

Ysenia. Start to Finish. I am amazed how many hours I spent on this one drawing. And it is the first portrait drawing I've ever made from a live model.

Continuing on the Day of the Dead theme, we applied makeup to ourselves and... created self portraits. This is my first self-portrait of all time. Of all my projects, this was/is my favorite. Would you know this was me, if I hadn't told so?

Isis had us create a still-life with appropriate Day of the Dead artifacts. I confess, this was my least favorite drawing from my week's class. And my least favorite exercise. With Isis's direction, I did however, learn a lot about shadows.

Another first. Drawing hands! (That's Ysenia in the photo to the right. She's the one who showed us how to apply Day of the Dead makeup.)

And my first 'nude' drawing, ever. I know it isn't perfect. But seriously, I'm really proud of my accomplishment.

Day of the Dead Artwork
I'm always writing about my business. For this blog post, I decided to reveal a little bit about me. You probably didn't know my little girl dreams were to be a professional artist (or a pediatrician.) I do borrow from my artistic abilities day to day with my fair trade jewelry business. But seriously, it isn't the same as drawing or painting.

Are you dreaming of taking a drawing or painting class in a fabulous destination? San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful place to spend some time.  And I can highly recommend Isis Rodriguez. She's a super talented and accomplished artist (just check out her website) who generously shares tips and training so her students can create their best work ever. In another lifetime, I would have had her help me prepare a portfolio for an art school application! -ND      

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Political Buttons - A Diversion

Political Pins
Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders. Kamala Harris. Pete Buttigieg. Michelle Obama. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is just the beginning of my new project. Using the same technique as our Laser Cut Art Images, I thought it would be fun to take a stab at political figures. I collaborated with a talented illustrator. With her drawing finesse and my Photoshop skills, we created these. I'm currently test marketing our new pins on Etsy. Want to be the first to wear one of these? Find them in the Dunitz Etsy Shop. (Want a custom pin for your organization? Dunitz & Company can do it for you. Just let me know.)

Test Marketing
How else do you test market such pins?  I recently took them on the road.  I had a table showing off our fair trade jewelry at the annual conference of women judges. What better testing ground is there for these pins than the ladies of NAWJ.  I proudly showed off the Fair Trade Federation logo and shared what it meant for Dunitz & Company to be a proud member.

Modeling The Girls
Of course, while there, I modeled "The Girls"! The women judges snapped up lots of pins. Several judges didn't want to be political. What did that mean?  Even though, I sold many, I didn't sell out of the 2020 presidential candidate pins. Guess which one did sell out? Come on, you know! Which famous person is on every female judge's pedestal?

Modeling RGB
 RGB, of course! Already reordered more production.

Pin Me
Want to support one of your favorite candidates and support fair trade at the same time?  Sport an original pin-back button from Dunitz & Company. Don't want to be political? No worries. You can still support fair trade with Dunitz & Company's fused glass and beaded jewelry. Are you willing to share with the world about this new project I masterminded? Consider sharing this pin here >>>. -ND

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