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Zuri Dispatch 12.14.21 // Our Favorite Handwoven Solids are Here!

It's been a race to the finish line to get these dresses to you by the end of the year, and we're so excited that we actually made it! We can't tell you how grateful we are to the team at Sasha and all the weavers in West Bengal who created these incredible textiles, and our team at Soko who turned these gorgeous fabrics into gorgeous dresses!

We thought it might be fun to share a bit of the sampling process with you and how we ultimately decide on the final fabrics. This past spring, we started thinking about colors that we wanted to try for winter, and I started digging around looking at old saris for inspiration! I wanted to go with jewel-y tones, and silk saris are a treasure trove of color inspo! After deciding on colors, we sent them over to Sasha to start sampling. Different fibers absorb colors and reflect light differently, so it was exciting to see the samples in various combos of cotton, linen and hemp! Below are some side-by-sides where you can see the difference in color based on the fibers. It's subtle but can you tell?

Once we matched the colors, the next decision was fibers! As you know, we've been making our solids with a mix of cotton and linen, maximizing texture and luminosity and minimizing wrinkles, but there are so many incredible textile traditions across India and we're always eager to learn more! We decided to give cotton khadi a try for a few colors, which we'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy our newest linen/cotton solids! <3

Book Club Update // January 2022 Pick 

Thank you to everyone who joined us this past weekend! We're super excited about Ubax's January pick, which was *just* released in the US! For our January 23rd 2022 meeting, we'll be reading Nadifa Mohamed's The Fortune Men, which tells the story of Mahmood Mattan, the last man executed in Cardiff for a crime he was exonerated from forty years later. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and based on a true story, we can't wait to get into it! 

You can find The Fortune Men at our Bookshop, at Cheche if you're in Nairobi, or grab a copy from your local library!

  
What We're Reading // A Feast for Lost Souls by Annelise Jolley 
Since 2006 more than 90,000 people have been disappeared in Mexico, victims of gang and cartel violence and government corruption. This piece highlights the Rastreadoras del Fuerte (The Trackers of El Fuerte), a civilian women led collective that searches for the disappeared, and how they use food as a way to remember and honor those they've lost. The combination of photos, video and writing in this piece is well-worth a read!
 
Who We're Following // Sandstorm Kenya
 For the last 20 years Sandstorm has been making the most gorgeous leather and canvas bags that I've been obsessed with since I first moved to Nairobi and imagined a fantasy life of weekend getaways fly-fishing on Mt. Kenya (never happened) and leisurely hikes in Aberdares (in reality more sweaty than leisurely) with their perfect weekender bags. Their Instagram account is filled with gorgeous photos of all the places you can go with their bags and the fantasy lives on! 
 Who We're Listening To // A Feast for Lost Souls by Annelise Jolley 
Geoffrey Oryema was a Ugandan musician who, at the age of 24 and at the height of Idi Amin's power, was exiled from his country, going on to create a prolific music career while based in Paris. His music remains as powerful as his story, and we think you'll love what you hear.
 

 

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Zuri Dispatch 12.07.21 // They're mitt-errific!

We first met Claire Munyae (right) a few years ago when she reached out to us about using our Ma3 print fabric for clothing that she was making in Nairobi. She made some incredible bomber jackets and we've kept in touch ever since! When we were brainstorming what might be fun to make for the holidays, oven mitts were top of mind and we reached out to Claire to see if she could produce them at her workshop in Nairobi! Once we started working, we were delightfully surprised to find out that Khamisi (left), who would primarily be making the mitts, was a student at the Stitching Academy, a non-profit operated by the lovely team at SOKO Kenya, where your dresses are all made!
 We're so thrilled to share these VERY LIMITED super fun oven mitts and potholders with you, and we hope that you love them as much as we do!

 

Did Someone say PARTY? 

What a year it's been! 2022 is just around the corner and we can't think of a better way to celebrate this past year and all its twists and turns than with a (virtual) holiday party! Here are the deets:

Where: Wherever! (On Zoom :)
When: December 19, 1 PM EST / 10 AM PST / 9 PM CAT

GIVING UPDATE // Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund

We're so grateful for your continued support through your mask purchases! We're so excited that we were able to contribute $1,300 to the University Settlement last month to support their incredible work supporting communities across the Lower East Side. This month we will be donating proceeds from our masks to the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, a grassroots organization fighting for reproductive justice in Mississippi.

WHAT WE'RE READING // What Abortion Access Looks Like in Mississippi: One Person at a Time by Zoë Beery

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v Wade through upholding Mississippi's abortion ban, this article gives some context on the impact of this ban in Mississippi, particularly on poor women and women of color, and highlights the work of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, a grassroots organization offering financial assistance and support help women access abortions in Mississippi. Well worth a read!

 
WHAT WE'RE READING // BOOK CLUB PICK // Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

The Che Che x Zuri book club is back this weekend! We're meeting this coming Sunday, Dec. 19th, to discuss Caleb Azumah Nelson's debut novella, Open Water. At only a little over 100 pages, there's still time to grab a copy and join us for the discussion if you're interested! We'd love to see you :)

 
WHO WE'RE LISTENING TO // 5-4 Podcast

As the Supreme Court considers Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we're reflecting on a question Justice Sonia Sotomayor's posed: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?" The 5-4 Podcast takes on this question and how the law has been shaped by politics, and how in many ways the system is severely broken. It's a thought-provoking and informative listen, and if you, like us, are feeling really frustrated and angry at the moment we're in, this podcast won't make you feel better, but it'll help you better understand how we got here.

 
WHO WE'RE LISTENING TO // T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo

Compiled by label boss and DJ Miles Cleret, the tracks in this album span the most productive period in the Benin based band's history. This collection includes a mixture of 1970's Afro-funk as well as Afro-Latin and Cuban influences. All we can say is: get your dancing shoes ready!

 
 
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Zuri Dispatch 11.30.21 // The Holidays are Upon Us!

Now that everything around us smells of pumpkin spice and pine trees and cloves, we realized that it might be time to think about holiday giftables!

First off, we're so excited to be stocking holiday cards (in addition to all-season cards!) from the fabulous Lulu Kitololo! Inspired by the flora and fauna of East Africa, these cards are sure to brighten any gift! We're also stocking a limited quantity of Lulu's gorgeous kanga-inspired notebooks for the writers in your life!

Looking for a cozy way to spend the holidays without leaving home? Our robes are just the thing! With patch pockets for your phone and a belted tie closure, you may never take it off!

For all those cooks in the family who could use a pop of color in the kitchen, our aprons will hide all kind of drips and dribbles, and might even inspire some more veggie-tastic new bites!

We're all about the zero waste production, especially because it means that we get to make all kinds of patchwork goodies with our offcuts! From our incredibly cute kids' dresses to our super versatile belts, to our take them everywhere tote bags, we've got patchwork for everyone!

We couldn't be more excited to share with you our newest collection of art prints by Dennis Muraguri! In Kenya, matatus are the main form of public transportation, and matatu culture is a vibrant reflection of the here and now. These very special, signed digital reproductions of original woodcut prints are a colorful and eye-catching addition to any space!

Last but not least, don't forget about our bits and bobs! From our beaded keychains to our soft cotton kikois, to our stuffed animals and woven bowls, we've got everyone on your list covered!

WHAT WE'RE READING // Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
This month, we've been reading Ubax's December book club pick, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson.

Described as “tender poetry, a love song to Black art and thought” by Yaa Gyasi (author of Homegoing), we're wrapping ourselves up in this intimate, velvety novella, and we're really looking forward to discussing it with you on Dec. 12th!

We're zooming at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST/8 PM CAT and we'd love to see you there! Please register here to join us :)
 
WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // As She Rises
Centering native voices and women of color, this podcast shares stories and sounds from around the US depicting climate change and its effects. Through poetry and poets, we experience a new perspective on the climate crisis and hopefully new inspiration on what we can do!  
WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Zap Mama
 This delightfully surprising a capella album melds polyphonic and afro-pop music, infused with African vocal techniques. Born in DRC and raised in Belgium, Marie Daulne believes, "The voice is an instrument itself." Enjoy!
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Zuri Dispatch 11.23.21 // All thanks to YOU!

What a year it's been! As we reflect back on the last eleven months and what we're grateful for, of course, it's you! Through all the anxiety of everything being so unpredictable and the frustrations of canceled and changed plans, what's gotten us through and thriving, really, is the encouragement and support that we continually receive from you, our community, and the reminder that every little thing we do has an impact, and that we have the privilege to create positive change. From our production partners in Kenya whose commitment and skill inspire us and enable us to keep creating, to our team in the US who help us steer the ship, to our dedicated customers whose enthusiasm keeps us afloat, our gratitude knows no bounds! So thank you, we wouldn't be here doing what we do without you!

WHAT WE'RE THANKFUL FOR // Our neighborhoods + neighbors!
  We're so grateful to have our shops in neighborhoods we love, and we're so lucky to have the most amazing neighbors! From the fabulous shopkeepers like Victoria at HiHo Silver on Fillmore who is always there for an encouraging chat and to help out with a mail snafu, to Pedro at the Little Taco Shop who keeps our Bleecker team nourished, we're grateful to be in such good company!
WHO WE'RE THANKFUL FOR // Cheche Books + Our Bookclub!

 We're so appreciative of Ubax, Ndegwa, and the whole Cheche team for their partnership and guidance of our book club, and grateful for each and every one of you who joins our monthly discussions! Not only is it wonderful to connect across oceans and deserts, we really value the space we've built to discuss, share, question and learn from each other. The books are always fabulous, the conversation always nourishing, and we wouldn't have any of it without Cheche! Asanteni sana!

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Zuri Dispatch 11.16.21 // Batiks are backkk!!

We couldn't be more excited for our latest collection of hand-dyed batiks to make their debut! Our design process, like much of what we do is somewhat random and driven by the moment (we're working on getting better at planning!), and so when we were brainstorming what would be fun to wear, in addition to the beautiful geometrics we love so much, we took some fun inspiration from things in our everyday lives.

We're so proud of these gorgeous prints made by Edwina and her team in Accra, and for those of you new to the batik-dying process, here's a bit about how they made our Electric Slide print:

The design is first stamped onto plain white cotton fabric and set to dry (upper right). It's then soaked in a dye bath (literally, a bath tub!), and the colors set (upper left). Then it's placed in a heated bath where the wax melts, leaving the final design! 

 

Plus! New posters from Dennis Muraguri!

Our favorite matatu-centric, Nairobi based artist is back with new prints that we are SO excited to share with you! Each print is signed by the artist and comes rolled in a cardboard tube.

Unfamiliar with Dennis's work or not sure what a matatu even is? Check out this video about Dennis and his creative process!

WHAT WE'RE READING // Oldladyvoice by Elisa Victoria
Narrated by 9-year-old Marina in 1990s Seville, this novel is hilarious and heartbreaking, and takes you right back to being a little kid and kind of knowing how the world works, but not yet knowing how to work it yourself. While Marina may be unique in her foul language and wild imagination, living with her grandmother during a hot, lonely summer while her mother is receiving treatment for a mysterious illness and feeling powerless and a little bit lost are entirely relatable and make for a surprisingly fun read!  

 

WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING // @matwanaculture
@matwanaculture is all about the latest in matatu trends and while some pop culture references are totally beyond us, we're always eager to learn! Plus, the creative vision and skill of these matatu artists is pretty unparalled and really fun to see!  

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Gyakie
Born into a family of musicians, Ghanaian singer Gyakie grew up in the studio. The daughter of 80’s highlife music legend Ernest 'Owoahene' Nana Acheampong, she's established herself as one of the top afrobeats artists on the scene today, and we can't wait to hear what she comes out with next.

 

GIVING UPDATE // University Settlement

Like we say all the time, we have the coolest customers, and we're really proud that Melissa Aase, director of University Settlement is a Zuri sister! We'll be donating proceeds of our mask sales this month to University Settlement, and we wanted to share a bit about their work in her own words:

At University Settlement, we always begin by honoring difference and insisting on the value of complexity. We know that human variety is infinite, we believe that human connection can create exponential value, and we know that engaging the full human complexity of our neighbors helps build stronger communities than transactional, short-term or single-discipline social services ever could.

This is the heart of our approach, which we’ve honed on the Lower East Side for the last 135 years, and which has made settlement houses effective engines for social reform for generations. It’s the power of US.

But this does mean we can be hard to sum up. We have programs for expecting mothers, and newborns, and children under five. We work with young people in after-school, and summer camp, and college prep. Every year more than 400 adults build English and civic literacy with us. We run the programming at community centers in the heart of three bustling neighborhoods, not to mention the spaces we operate for distinct communities of adults over 60. We engage our neighbors with dedicated mental health and art-making programs, while also weaving those resources into everything we do. And even as we provide direct services to address immediate needs, we connect our neighbors through civic engagement and to the fight for greater equality – pushing the needle of the possible while doing what needs to be done now.

Doing all the seemingly disparate things we do as one organization, with teams that approach their work from a shared perspective, who are empowered and encouraged to connect the dots, makes everything we do more successful.

We are proud to be part of Zuri’s community - to learn more about how you can get involved with University Settlement’s work building community strength in NYC, please subscribe to our updates here.

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