Mayan Hands is a fair-trade nonprofit dedicated to providing economic and educational opportunities to Maya women and girls, so that they can build sustainable futures for themselves, their families and communities, as they continue to live within the culture they cherish.
We envision a world in which skilled women artisans are celebrated for their talents, receive sustainable, fair pay for their work, and have the financial stability needed to develop their potential and make decisions for their future.
Mayan Hands collaborates with 15 artisan groups in the rural Guatemalan highlands, representing about 200 skilled craftswomen. Artisans speak one (or more!) of four Mayan languages: K’iche’, Kaqchikel, Tz’utujil, or Achí. Some also speak Spanish.
In our early days, we worked with backstrap loom weavers. Today, products showcase artisan partners' wide range of skills: numerous styles of weaving, pine needle basketry, crochet, macrame, needle felting, and embroidery.
Mayan Hands is committed to long-term partnership with artisan groups. Some artisans have worked with us for more than 30 years!
Our proudly multicultural team speaks six languages and works together across three offices in two countries. Our United States headquarters & warehouse is in Albany, New York, and our Guatemala offices are in Guatemala City and Panajachel.
Mayan Hands Foundation, Ltd. is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and our Board of Directors is responsible for guiding the organization's strategic direction.
Vera Eccarius-Kelly (President)
Laurie Naranch (Vice-President)
Sharon Costello (Secretary)
Mark Van Wormer (Treasurer)
Brenda Rosenbaum (founder)
Edwin Conor Graham
Ricardo López -Torrijos
Ethical communication:Artisan partners actively consent to the use of their image in photography and communications.
Fair trade:Mayan Hands is a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, and we are accountable to fair trade practices in all our business and program decisions.
Mayan Hands began in 1989 when founders Brenda and Fredy Rosenbaum, two Guatemalans with expertise in business and anthropology and a passion for social change, imagined a way to open international markets for extraordinary Mayan textiles.
Brenda conducted anthropological research for years in Maya communities in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, where she was graced with generous hospitality and friendship. She witnessed hard-working lives and amazing talent, but also the effects of centuries of marginalization and discrimination.
Initially, Mayan Hands worked with Maya women weavers whose lives were devastated by the Guatemalan armed conflict and genocide. Many had been displaced and lost spouses, children, parents, and friends to brutal violence.
For more than thirty years, Mayan Hands has thrived thanks to our extraordinary artisan partners, whose creativity and dedication is woven into every heirloom-quality product we offer. And, thanks to you–loyal customers who cherish these handmade products and the story of new opportunities that they represent.