The MZ Blog

Fair Trade Month: 9 Guiding Principles

Fair Trade Month: 9 Guiding Principles

Although every month is “Fair Trade Month” at the MZ headquarters, October is an opportunity to shine a light on the good works that the fair trade movement is engaging in all over the globe. 

Fair trade means that producers in developing countries are getting a fair wage for their work. It is an approach to international development and business based on dialogue, transparency, and respect between farmers or artisans and those who sell their products in the first world. Fair trade businesses, which are accredited by various bodies and backed by conscious consumers, work to raise awareness and campaign for changes in conventional international trade.

MZ has been a member of the Fair Trade Federation for over five years. Our founder and CEO, Shelley Tennyson, is a FTF board member, and the FTF principles guide all that we do. Here’s a closer look at the principles of fair trade, and how we embody them in our business model. 


Create Opportunities for economically and socially marginalized farmers and artisans. Fair trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development achieved through long-term trading partnerships.

We create opportunities for the MZ artisans by connecting them to a wider international market. With consistent business over the course of nine years, they can rely on the income, and better support their families and community. 

Build Capacity of farmers, artisans, and their communities. FTF members invest time and resources to help producers build their businesses and create sustainable supply chains. 

MZ provides workshops periodically that cover everything from financial planning, business management to design and color theory. We aim to empower the artisans to lead their own small businesses under the MZ umbrella. 

Promote Fair Trade by raising awareness about fair trade, educating customers and producers, and inspiring other businesses to adopt fair trade practices. 

We aim to show that beautiful, well-made goods CAN and SHOULD be ethically made! We value the impact that comes from empowering consumers with knowledge. We believe that when people understand that trade can be a force for positive change they will use their purchasing power to improve the lives of people and communities.

Pay Promptly and Fairly by discussing costs and pricing openly and honestly so that producers are able to earn a fair wage. 

We always show the FULL financial picture to the artisans, explaining our budgets and costs. We ask them to detail their production cost and time, and how they pay the artisans who help them, to ensure that EVERYONE is getting paid fairly. 

Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions that are free of discrimination and forced labor. Healthy workplaces empower producers to participate in decision-making.

All of the artisans we work with enjoy being able to work in the comfort of their own home workshops. 

“Being able to weave at home is a beautiful and noble work that allows me to care for my kids, but still fulfills my dream of being creative. It’s what I love to do."

-Rocío 

Cultivate Environmental Stewardship by encouraging responsible use of resources and eco-friendly production. FTF members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials whenever possible. 

We are proud to support the handmade production process, which uses less energy and has less waste than industrial processes. 

Ensure the Rights of Children by never using exploitative child labor. FTF members support children’s right to security, education, and play and respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The artisans we work with are able to send their kids to school, not only through high school, but for many, on to university studies as well. They are proud to teach their children the family trade, but they all prioritize their children’s education.

“Our goal is always focused on our children, that they can continue studying and graduate from the university."

- Hugo 

Respect the Cultural Identity of the farmers and artisans and celebrate diversity. Fair trade products and production methods respect the traditions of the local communities.

Respect for the Zapotec culture is the backbone of all we do. From sharing the meaning behind the symbols woven into our bags with our customers, to celebrating traditions such as Dia de los Muertos along with them, to be able to share in this culture reinforces their pride and is an absolute joy for us. 

 

The MZ brand was created in order to connect the talented Zapotec weavers with new markets as well as to share their craftsmanship with the world. Our goal for growth is to be able to offer work to more artisans to help them improve their lives and communities, one weaving at a time. What does fair trade mean to you?

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