We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Dunitz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was easy. The business I started in 1989 combines so much of what I love. I love traveling and exploring other cultures. Meeting new people, experiencing their lives, their food, their environments has always filled me with joy. I’m crazy for arts and crafts. And I enjoy drawing and making things myself. That and having a pretty good head for numbers led me to develop Dunitz & Company, a fair trade business working with artisans in Guatemala.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Wow. That’s a loaded question. I’ve been doing what I do for over 30 years. And it hasn’t always been a straight line. One needs to adapt to changing times to stay ahead. When I first started my business I wanted to collaborate with artisans and create beautiful things we could sell to retail stores in the USA. I always joke that the first five years of my business was tuition. I met two women, one American, the other German, in the early 90’s who first taught Mayan women how to bead. We collaborated on colors and designs and created something that had not been seen in the USA before. And then I was knocked off, by those with much deeper pockets than me. Did I quit? No. Not a chance. I created new designs. We developed collections that used different materials. I spent time focused on broadcasting my ethics by becoming a verified Fair Trade Federation member, a founding member of Fair Trade Los Angeles and a gold-certified Green America business. In recent times, pricing has become a huge issue to maintain success as a wholesaler. Some of my designs at one point were perceived as mid to high-end. Now I’ve become an expert at creating beautiful jewelry that will retail for under $25.00! You adapt. And with the trend of younger people shopping on-line, not to mention how Covid19 has affected retail shopping, online selling has become a crucial part of the pie. I’m still working on that one.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been a tour guide for one week in Los Angeles. And now that Covid19 is at play, I mostly stay at home. Can I assume we’re not restricted and everything is open? Here are a few things I love to do in Los Angeles. In the summer, a performance at the Hollywood Bowl is a must. And it’s right around the corner from my office! It’s almost always easy to get last minute tickets unless there is a rock band, lease event. A walk around Downtown Arts District is always fun. I adore checking out the murals one discovers. After that, a quick trip to Guisados in Boyle Heights for yummy tacos. Their flavor is exquisite and it won’t break the bank. There are many museums in Los Angeles worth checking out. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Getty Center and the Huntington Gardens are all amazing. Want to see something a bit smaller and really fun? Check out the preserved homes at Heritage Square Museum. They often have special events and tours where the docents dress in period costumes. Hike around Lake Hollywood. Don Cuco in Burbank for margaritas and Mexican food. (Yes, I like eating Mexican food.) Los Angeles really is a mecca for things to do. Frankly, I also enjoy just hanging out in my yard with my dog. I think friends enjoy that too. I’ll make some mojitos.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The first person I always need to thank is my mom. She always recognized my artistic side which led to my being confident about that creative side. Several years ago, I named a collection of glass fair trade jewelry I offer after her, to honor her. That collection is called Joanie M. An organization I’d like to shout out to is Fair Trade Federation. Dunitz & Company has been a verified proud member of this group for many years, and their on-going advocacy has helped educate consumers that they can make better buying decisions. I’ve always lived by the golden rule. Screening by Fair Trade Federation isn’t simple. With so many people nonchalantly using buzz words to get ahead, being part of this group autheticates that I am what I say I am. When you purchase from a Fair Trade Federation member, you can feel confident that artisans and farmers producing what they offer earn living wages and their well-being is considered with each decision.