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