This versatile wide woven tote has a sleek silhouette but can easily carry gym clothes or take work home. It has two leather straps, a zip closure and a lined interior with one pocket.
Material : 100% wool, handwoven and hand-dyed
Size : 13.5″x18″x 3,5″
The purpose of Manos Zapotecas is to perpetuate the beautiful traditions of the Zapotec artisans and improve their lives 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 that supports over 50 weavers in Oaxaca.
Manos zapotecas 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.
How the bags are made
All the wool arrives to weavers in natural shades of white, cream, gray and brown. Some weaving families still use natural dyes, the knowledge of which is passed down from generation to generation. These dyes are concocted from a variety of plant, animal and mineral sources, such as nuts and flowers, cochineal bugs and indigo. The yarn is boiled with the dye, a fixative (such as lime juice) is added and then the skeins of colored yarn are hung to dry in the sun.
Our weavers are also the designers of the beautiful patterns found on all of our bags. Many are the traditional Zapotec designs while others are modern interpretations of their tribal patterns or even abstract expressions. Our Style Coordinator works closely with the weavers to discuss colors for seasonal lines and each designer gets a chance to draw up their designs on paper, and then produce a sample. We offer feedback throughout the design process and choose the best samples to be made into Manos Zapotecas bags.
Manos Zapotecas weavers use bi-peddle treadle looms and preparing the loom to weave is an intensive process unto itself. The cotton warp threads, which run lengthwise across the loom, have to be set to a specific width based on the size of the bag they are making. A completed woven piece is called a tapete, or woolen tapestry. Most traditionally used as rugs, Manos Zapotecas utilizes these small tapetes to make into bags.
Sewing & Leatherwork
The next step is to sew the tapetes into the shape of the bag it will become. It is then sent to a dedicated leatherworker in a nearby town who adds the leather parts. The bag is returned to the weaver so they can sew in the zipper and lining.
Each bag is a work of art, created with immense love and pride.