Better Together: Fair Trade Develops Accountable Relationships


Manos Zapotecas is a Fair Trade company that sells handbags woven by talented artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. Since 2012, Shelley Tennyson, the founder and CEO, has been bringing these colourful handbags from the Zapotec villagers of Teotitlan de Valle to stylish consumers around the world.

When Shelley first met the artisans, she was a volunteer offering business training. She realized that business savvy wouldn’t help if there were no customers to buy the striking creations, so she started Manos Zapotecas (MZ Fair Trade), which now supports over 50 artisans in creating sustainable lives for themselves and their families.


Shelley believes in the Fair Trade Principle of Transparency and Accountability. This means that she creates and supports business relationships that are open, honest and consistent.

She has learned enough Spanish to be able to communicate directly with her suppliers about the costs involved in getting the handbags from the makers to the market. The artisans now understand the expenses that make up the difference between the amount they receive and the price they see on the MZ website.

“One of the impacts [of Fair Trade] for the artisans is the realization that there are companies that actually care about their welfare and want to involve them in the company as fully participating and valuable employees,” says Shelley Tennyson. Thank you, Shelley, for walking your talk about the importance of transparent and accountable relationships.

Fair Trade's commitment to creating transparent and accountable relationships is another reason to feel good about seeking out and supporting Fair Trade businesses.  


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