' Mata Traders – MZ

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Mata Traders

At Manos Zapotecas, we feel very fortunate to have a such a stellar community of like-minded fair trade fashion brands within the Fair Trade Federation. We have connected with six of them in order to bring our greater community five weeks of giveaways building up to World Fair Trade Day on May 11th. For Week 4, Mata Traders, in conjunction with Faire Collection, is offering up a dream team of an outfit both on Facebook and on Instagram. 

Our products are handmade using artistic traditions such as block-printing and embroidery … no factory production here. Combine that with flattering design and a flair for color, and you’ve got the Mata look.

But that’s just half the story – this is fashion with impact. For our producers, it’s an opportunity to make a better life for their families. Choosing fair trade means you’re helping fight global poverty.

We caught up with Mata Traders to learn more.

mata traders

1. How and why was Mata Traders started?

Traveling the world with her best friends, Maureen found her zen shopping the colorful markets of India. She began to import all kinds of handcrafts: from leather sandals to antique tapestries. Selling her wares at a local summer market back stateside, someone asked her if her items were fair trade. She looked up what that meant, and coincidently the Fair Trade Futures Conference was going to be in Chicago that fall. So she attended, and it all clicked: she could use the buying power of her blossoming import business to make an impact the poverty in India. The next time she went back, she sought out fair trade organizations to partner with. That was 10 years ago now, and we’re still working with those same co-ops.

2. Would you like to talk about your mission, vision and commitment to fair trade?

The Mata Traders mission is to ‘fashion a better world’ by creating designs that celebrate a woman’s originality and empower her to use her dollar for change. We merge uncommonly vibrant style with fair trade practices to make an impact on global poverty – bringing living wages to artisans in India and Nepal.
As members of the FTF since 2008, we are fully, 360 degrees committed to fair trade. All of our products are made by fair trade organizations.
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3. Can you give me a bit of insight into your design and production process?
We produce original designs here in Chicago, including our textiles, and then work with the co-ops to create samples, both in person on bi-annual visits and via email. There’s several rounds of changes and corrections, and eventually we’ll choose the best designs for a collection. The co-ops handle the production, but we have a production manager on staff in Chicago who communicates with the groups to be sure things are happening according to schedule and oversees quality assurance measures.
4. Who is your typical consumer and how does your brand fit in to their fashion sense and lifestyle?
Our typical customer is in the range of 25-40, and in her closet you’ll find original, colorful, and feminine pieces that reflect a vibrant life. She’s always on a path of discovery – dreaming of exotic travel, going on urban adventures, scouring outdoor markets for one-of-a-kind items, reading up on what’s new, gathering artistic inspiration, enjoying music, food, and friends.
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