Nancy Dunitz once had a very good job working as a financial planner in the entertainment industry. She’s the first to say she didn’t particularly enjoy that type of work. She’s always been an artist at heart and an avid traveler. She loves decorating and designing pretty things. These passions led her to explore business opportunities in Guatemala. Guatemala was relatively close to home and she knew there was a plethora of artisans ready to create beautiful handmade goods. While traveling in the highlands, she met another American woman who had trained a small group of women the art of beading. Together a business was born. Nancy’s jewelry business, Dunitz & Company debuted at the wholesale trade shows in 1990.
The mainstay of the Dunitz line is an exquisite collection of beaded jewelry.
Each piece of the beadwork is handcrafted by talented Mayan women and is primarily made from Czechoslovakian and Japanese glass beads. Other components used include vintage buttons, Tagus slices, glass pearls, ribbons, leather and semi-precious stones. Dunitz & Company is member of Fair Trade Federation and Green America.
Nancy travels to Guatemala for two weeks twice a year. While there, she designs each season’s collection. The artisans have become Nancy’s second family and she cares deeply about their well-being. It upsets her greatly to see other wholesalers take advantage of artisans when they don’t pay fair and living wages for their work.
Nancy explains how business has changed in recent times and has gotten much tougher. When she started her business there was a lot of unrest in Guatemala. Most people didn’t feel secure traveling there and for a long time she was one of the only wholesalers of fine Guatemalan beadwork. Now it’s easier to travel to Guatemala and more wholesalers have jumped into this market. Retailers are also traveling out of the USA to buy directly from artisans they meet. Some countries including Guatemala and Peru now stage trade shows and actively recruit retailers. And of course, the availability of products on the internet also creates more competition.
Nancy is confident that she has made a significant difference in many lives. At any given time the work Dunitz & Company has produced supports nearly 150 women (and their families). The women live better, eat better, and can afford lovely traditional clothing. Dunitz artisans have children that can afford to go to school past primary years. A couple of the Dunitz workshop office managers now have children studying at the university level.
In recent times, Nancy developed a second jewelry line made from fused glass and it is also handmade in Guatemala. Nancy named this newest collection “Joanie M” after her mother. She says since the designs are so different from her beaded collection, she wanted to give it a different identity. Her mom was a fashion plate and always dreamed of owning a dress shop. She says this was a way she could pay tribute to her.