Shelley Tennyson comes to Manos Zapotecas with a history of social service, business, teaching, and adventure. She owned and operated a whitewater rafting business catering to women, taught outdoor and adventure education in the mountains of California, taught English at a university in Tijuana, and most recently brought a business education program to the indigenous women near Oaxaca who are participating in the En Via non profit microfinance program. Her Spanish has allowed her to develop lasting friendships with the incredible Mexican people. Manos Zapotecas is her way of giving something back to them.
Francisco (Paco) Santiago Bautista was born in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. He belongs to the Zapotec culture that still exists in the Oaxaca Valley. The great majority of the members of the community are weavers, and Paco says that it is a good way to stay connected to their cultural heritage by preserving their craft. Paco and his 3 brothers are the fourth generation of weavers in his family; he learned the art of weaving from his father, master weaver Porfirio Santiago Mendez. He started his first rug at the age of 11. His mother, Gloria Bautista taught Paco how to dye the wool. Nowadays Paco is about to pass his knowledge to his two sons and two daughters. In the last four years Paco has traveled to the US, giving weaving demonstrations and rug exhibitions. He has joined Manos Zapotecas as the partner in Teotitlan who coordinates and ships all the orders. His English is nearly perfect!
Liz Moffett became a part of Manos Zapotecas through her love of fiber. An avid spinner, collector and dyer of yarn she finds the Zapotec people and their way of life a dream come true. Her experience in ecommerce and social media were skills she readily offered in order to become involved in keeping the artistry and heritage of the Zapotec weavers alive and thriving. She was ecstatic to find that her belief in the fair trade movement and the beauty and satisfaction of items handmade were the very mission and tenets of Manos Zapotecas. She finds her role as Web Operations Manager the perfect fit for her skills and ideals.
Icia Delgado met Shelley Tennyson, the future founder of Manos Zapotecas, while working for a non-profit in Trujillo, Peru. Both shared a passion for the culture, language and people of Latin America. Before Peru, Icia lived in Mexico where she worked with street kids as well as a Human Rights Center. Following Peru she served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua for over two years. Back in her native California, she is thrilled to re-connect with Shelley and find a meaningful way to contribute to a culture which left such an indelible impression in her heart. Icia’s passion for service and conscious consumerism is a perfect blend for the ethos of the Manos Zapotecas brand: a fair trade company which fosters the livelihoods of countless artisans and preserves a venerable tradition.
Tawny McKenzie was hooked the moment Shelley shared her vision of Manos Zapotecas. The idea of women + fair trade + art swooned her. She uses her background in journalism and her love of the Spanish language to promote the Zapotec weavers and their way of life. The more she learns about the Manos Zapotecas artisans and their families, the more her passion for fair trade grows.
Kim Groves came to Oaxaca in May 2011 to volunteer with Fundación En Vía and has been living here since. One of the ways that she has learnt about and explored Oaxaca is through the lens of her camera. “I have tried to capture in my photos the feelings of hope and pride that come from the women and families that I have had the privilege of meeting during my time working in Teotitlán del Valle.” When Shelley offered her the chance to become involved in Manos Zapotecas, she says she was honoured to accept. “I believe the company has a lot of potential and has the noble aim of really making a difference through fair trade.”