Who are you? & can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Shannon Riesenfeld and I’m the founder of Mango + Main. I live in Annapolis, Maryland with my 4 kids, husband and dog.
What exactly is Mango + Main?
Mango and Main is a fair trade company based in Annapolis, Maryland. We partner with artisan groups across the globe to assist in the design, development, and distribution of handmade products for the U.S. marketplace. Utilizing fair trade principles, our mission is to empower artisans to grow their business, alleviate poverty, and make a positive impact on their communities.
What inspired you to start Mango + Main?
I worked as an Ambassador for Noonday Collection for over 5 years and had the privilege of traveling to visit many of their artisan partners. I learned about how job creation had transformed communities and interrupted the cycle of poverty for families. I also met several artisan groups while traveling with my husband to Haiti, Peru, and South Africa who desired to introduce their products to the U.S. marketplace and needed assistance. Additionally, I worked on a fair trade fashion blog for several years and we always had lots of messages from artisans who wanted help with introducing their work to customers. I decided to start Mango + Main to provide business opportunities for artisan groups that need buyers and U.S. market exposure.
How did you come up with the name?
Our mission is to bring handmade products from tropical lands where mangoes grow to Main St, USA. The name Mango + Main describes the connection between two worlds and the desire to bring them closer together.
Your accessories are made from artisans across the globe, can you tell us about that and how you find them?
We work closely with 3 artisan groups to help them design new products that are on-trend here in the U.S. These groups are located in Peru, Haiti, and Rwanda, and we began working with each of them at different times through personal connections. We love visiting them at least every other year to work on new designs, source local materials, and develop relationships.
Is there a favorite product?
The most popular products we sell are our makeup bags and jewelry rolls. Both are sewn by seamstresses in Rwanda using African wax print fabric on foot-pedal sewing machines.
What is your favorite part about running Mango + Main?
I love visiting with the artisans in each country, developing relationships, and working on new products together. It’s always a joy to be welcomed into their homes and meet their families. Seeing the impact that these jobs have on their lives makes everything worth it!
What is your least favorite part about running Mango + Main?
Keeping up with social media, marketing, emails, etc… it always feels like I’ll never catch up!
How do you spread the word about your company?
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Ask for help! It’s tempting to try to do everything by yourself, but impossible to maintain every role as a small business owner. Let your friends and family know how they can help… I think you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to support you!
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? ☺
“… do small things with great love.” – Mother Theresa
Every day I feel like my job requires a million small tasks, but if each of those small things are done with great love, they add up to something big. It’s the small things done together that change the world.