@manoszapotecas // Mexico
The purpose of Manos Zapotecas is to perpetuate the beautiful traditions of the Zapotec artisans by connecting them with socially conscious consumers around the globe.
In 2009, Manos Zapotecas founder Shelley Tennyson was volunteering with a microfinance non-profit in the small Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. She was offering business classes to the female loan recipients, many of whom were weavers. Shelley realized that no matter how exquisite the product, or how savvy their business skills, without buyers, these hardworking and skilled artisans were not able to support themselves or their families adequately.
Three years later, Manos Zapotecas was born out of a belief that commerce can, and should, change lives for the better. What began as a wild idea to sell Zapotec bags globally, in a village where most of the women had never even left the state, has grown into a fair trade fashion brand run by a team of five women in the US that supports over 50 weavers in Oaxaca.
“We strive to make a positive impact on the lives and communities of the artisans, by nurturing lasting relationships and always abiding by fair trade principles. Our designers work closely with the weavers to incorporate traditional handwoven tribal designs with modern styles, the results of which are beautiful, expertly crafted and unique bags.”
“Each MZ bag holds an element of discovery. From the significance of the Zapotec designs, to the bold color combinations, and most importantly, the distinct story of the artisan who wove it. All our bags are unique expressions of the creativity of each artisan, however, most bags show woven designs that contains ancient Zapotec symbols.”
“Many of the designs seen in the textiles are the same Zapotec patterns that the weavers’ ancestors etched into stone in the nearby Zapotec ruins of Mitla. Some images represent the physical world, such as mountains, rain and the agave plant, which others indicate the spiritual realm, such as the greca symbol that shows the interconnectedness of the life cycle, death and rebirth.”
You can learn more about the significance of the designs on HERE.