Tuesday, November 26, 2019

17 Fair Trade Verified Gift Websites for Holiday Shopping

I originally wrote this post for the 2018 holiday season.  I wanted to share it again because these are such great gift resources. I've updated this list to include some fabulous new options. Unfortunately I had to delete those that are no longer verified members of Fair Trade Federation. Happy Holidays. Happy and Fair Shopping!

The holidays will soon be upon us and of course I hope you will purchase all of your fair trade jewelry and Judaica gifts from Dunitz & Company. If you're reading my blog, you are almost certainly interested in fair trade. Perhaps you're in the market for home goods, children's toys or aromatherapy? My Fair Trade Federation colleagues have you covered. Here's a list of 17 fabulous sites where you can almost certainly find a potpourri of amazing fair trade treasures for you and your loved ones.

In alphabetical order:

1. Awaken - I've been drooling over Awaken's hipster scarves and clothing. Their designs, handmade in Thailand are so cool. My guess is after checking them out, you might be purchasing gifts for you and your favorite gal pals at Awaken sometime soon.  www.awakenfairtrade.com

2. Dunitz & Company - Yes, that's my business and I've been working with artisans in Guatemala since 1990! Please check out our site to find incredible seed bead, embroidered and fused glass jewelry designs. We also have the most special kippot for women. Have you seen our laser cut jewelry? You might just need to own a pair of 'Starry Night' earrings. www.shopdunitz.com

3. Eternal Threads - I think you'll be really impressed with the wide selection of gifts from all over the globe offered by Eternal Threads. I am. (And this site is also offering some Dunitz fair trade jewelry this season.) From sophisticated to hippy, you'll find a lot of awesome gifts for your favorite friends and family. www.eternalthreads.org

4.  Fair Trade Winds - If you're not familiar with Fair Trade Winds, you should be. They have an amazing website offering so many wonderful fair trade items. They know retailing well since they own and manage several brick & mortar shops too. And since they've been my (wholesale) customer for several years, I can say with confidence that they are some of the nicest people I know. www.fairtradewinds.net

5. Freeset USA - I only recently learned about Freeset USA, even though they've been a member of Fair Trade Federation longer than Dunitz.  I'm so impressed with their long line of handbags, totes and duffels (made in India) which really have a great hip young vibe. They even offer fair trade T-shirts. I also found out that Freeset produces goods for other FTF members, private label. www.freesetusa.com 

6. HoonArts - New on my list and not to be missed. HoonArts works with artisans in Central Asia. Their luscious scarves from the Seven Sisters artists of Kyrgyzstan will make your heart race. And their hand-carved wooden combs from Tajikistan are so amazing, I couldn't resist. I purchased one recently. www.hoonarts.com

7. Kahiniwalla - Let's talk kids! Kahiniwalla offers the most amazing children's toys and accessories. I think you'll be hard pressed to find anything, anywhere available that is more precious that this collection crafted in Bangladesh. If you have tots on your gift list, you must take a look at this site. www.kahiniwalla.com

8. Maroma USA - This site is luscious. Maroma offers a very appealing collection of incense, luminaries, fragrance and body care, all handcrafted in India. They also have products tailored for men. www.maromausa.com 

9. Mayan Hands - I love supporting and encouraging others that work with artisans in Guatemala. I think Mayan Hands has been doing good in Guatemala for as long as I have. And that's a long time! You'll find some terrific Christmas ornaments on their site. For gifts, you must check out their pine needle baskets. They really are fabulous. www.mayanhands.org

10. Mehera Shaw - You'll have to search the Mehera Shaw site to discover all that they do. They've been working with artisans in Jaipur, India since 1999 and offer a wide selection of modern clothing and accessories. They even have Christmas stockings and ornaments for sale. www.meherashaw.com

11. Mr. Ellie Pooh - Looking for note cards, photo albums, journals or other paper products? Then you absolutely need to consider Mr.Ellie Pooh's adorable line-up. Fairly produced in Sri Lanka, Ellie's offerings are made from recycled paper which is 30% comprised of elephant dung. Seriously. Click to learn more. www.mrelliepooh.com 

12. Nativa - Nativa is all about fine Mexican clothing. If you know me, you know I'm crazy for beautiful embroidery work. I'm certain you'll also be drooling over this company's fine crafted blouses, dresses and children's wear. They even have yoga bags. www.nativashop.com 

13. One World Fair Trade - Looking for a wide range of gifts? One World's site might be the perfect one stop shop for you. I've been working with the One World team for many years and I can personally attest to their sophisticated and well designed choices. www.oneworldfairtrade.net 

14. Seeds To Sew - New on this list of fair trade suppliers is Seeds To Sew. You must check out their site. What I love the most are their affordable, environmentally conscious gift bags of every size. They are sewn by women in Africa from upcycled and donated fabrics. These women earn living wages and they are creating lovely packaging for all of us to use. Reduce your carbon footprint by supporting this group and what they do. www.seedstosew.org 

15. Shop With A Mission - It surprises me that I didn't know about this website until I started researching for this article. Heavenly Treasures/Shop With A Mission has been a Fair Trade Federation member since 2010 and their US offices are located in Southern California. (Gee, I've obviously been living in a bubble.) After checking out their site, I am marveled by their wide selection of fair trade gifts. You'll certainly find some great ideas here. www.shopwithamission.com 

16. Women's Peace Collection - The Women's Peace Collection is a social enterprise that helps women around the world by supporting their work and entrepreneurship. They currently offer jewelry, accessories (including some cold weather gloves that are super yummy), home decor and children's toys. Oh yes, and a few Dunitz designs, too! www.womenspeacecollection.com

17. Zee Bee Market - You'll love Zee Bee Market's website. It's so well designed and so easy to navigate with a wide assortment of fun gifts for just about everyone you know. And since they also operate two brick & mortar shops in Missouri, they have a great pulse on what customers want to find online. Click here to explore their site. www.zeebeemarket.com

So there you have it!  A perfect list of 17 fabulous retail fair trade websites where you can take care of all your gift purchasing needs.  You will find great gifts and if you have time, each one of these sites shares their unique stories. Stories of how they began working in fair trade. Stories of their artisans from varying countries. Stories of how fair trade makes a difference. And with the knowledge of how all these companies are making a difference, you will have a better understanding of how your purchases are also making a difference in so many lives.

Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry and Judaica is so proud to be part of the Fair Trade Federation family.  Our heart fills with joy because we are part of this important group of business people who care so much about human dignity and our planet. -ND

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