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Meet the Team Who Makes Our Masks!

Fun fact: when Sandra and I first met, she had a bakery! She made the most DELICIOUS cassava flour chocolate cookies, and given just how delicious they were, it was not altogether inconvenient that she happened to be located next to a tailoring shop which could produce the flattering yet loose-fitting dresses we've all come to love!

It turns out that this tailoring shop would be not only one of the best in Nairobi, but that it would be run a truly inspiring woman. When we started Zuri, Flo helped us produce our first collection of dresses, and has produced ALL of the thousands of masks that you've bought this past year. This has kept her shop literally buzzing with production during an otherwise tough year, and we feel VERY lucky to bee 🐝 in this queen's hive!  

We truly want to thank you all for your support through your mask purchases, which have kept Flo's staff rocking and rolling, and have allowed us to donate more than $42,300 to Give Directly's Kenya Covid-19 Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Voter Participation Center and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and more than 15,000 masks donated to Penda Health and Jacaranda Health in Nairobi.  

We hope that you've been loving them as much as we do, and that they'll bring both joy and color to your world! (P.S. Tushone means "Let's stitch" in Kiswahili!)

ARTIST CORNER // MAINA BONIFACE

Restricted Area II, 2020

Acrylic on Papr19 7/10 × 25 2/5 in50 × 64.5 cm

Waiting, Watching and Wishing series.

Maina Boniface has blown us away with his latest 2020 series, aptly entitled: "Waiting, Watching, and Wishing". In these works, Maina reflects on the voluntary and involuntary changes to everyday life brought about by events of this surreal year.  The series is mostly sold out, but you can still find five paintings available through Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi, here!

INSTA CORNER // WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @HILLHOUSEVINTAGE

If you like English country interiors, nostalgic fireside vignettes, and the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven *(not necessarily YOUR oven, but AN oven), hop on to the @hillhousevintage feed and cozy up to a bucolic world that exists in Paula Sutton's Instagram reality, even if nowhere else.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Hey Ya! By Outkast

We're throwing it back to 2003 because this song is a timeless classic, just like the man who wrote it. Now, pop quiz: What's cooler than being cool?

A) When you have to get out of bed and your slippies are all the way across the room.

B) Wearing sunglasses inside. 

C) Ice cold.

You guys, it's C).

WHAT WE'RE READING // Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

It's rare that I pick up a book and finish it in one day, but on Saturday, when I started this novel, I found that I could NOT put it down. Set in Pune, India, this gorgeously told story is about betrayal between a once reckless, irreverent mother and the adult daughter who now must care for her as she both convalesces and loses her memory of the things she has done.

Read more →

100% Made in Kenya

A little more than three years ago, Ashleigh and I were blasting down Mombasa Road, driving back from our first visit to our ethical manufacturing partner in southern Kenya and it was around hour four (of an unexpected 10!) back to Nairobi that I remember looking out the window as 18-wheelers flew by (Ashleigh is a VERY good driver), musing about how amazing it would be if someday, we got big enough that instead of buying prints in the market, we could actually produce our own. We could give a platform to emerging designers, and we could create textiles that were original, whose origins we could trace completely, and whose stories would encompass our contemporary world. As is wont to happen on long delirious drives, we set the conversation aside as a road trip pipe-dream, and went back to more practical conversations like what we should eat for our next snack break, but this fantasy stayed with us. 

Now, three plus years and many dresses later, we couldn't be prouder or more excited that this dream is becoming reality and that it's even better than what we imagined thanks to your support! Not only do we get to collaborate with emerging designers and share their talent with you, we have partnered with a textile manufacturer in Nairobi that sources cotton grown in western Kenya giving us not only total traceability, but a 100% KENYAN supply chain. This means that from seed, to fabric, to dress, our new prints will be 100% Kenyan from farm to shop.

We couldn't do this without your support and we are so grateful to be a part of this community that has encouraged us and enabled us to keep growing and finding ways to continually do better. 

And so a new journey begins! Meet our newest prints, 100% made in Kenya! Twende!

GIVING UPDATE // Voter Participation Center

For the month of September we committed to donating proceeds from the sales of our masks to the Voter Participation Center. As we near Nov 3rd, it is evermore important to register potential voters and get them to the polls so that on Election Day, ALL our voices are heard and counted. We're really proud that thanks to your purchases, we were able to donate $3,700 in September, which combined with our contribution from mask sales in August totals $8,700 for the Voter Participation Center!

This month, we'll be donating our mask proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to support their work fighting for racial justice and in litigating voting rights and protecting the election. With voter suppression in full force across the country, we all have to do what we can to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote does vote, and that every vote gets counted.

WHAT WE'RE READING // In North Carolina, Black Voters’ Mail-In Ballots Much More Likely to Be Rejected Than Those From Any Other Race

Early voting has started in many states and for those who are mailing in ballots, this story illustrates the importance of make sure that every vote gets counted! Analysis of data from the 2018 midterms in North Carolina shows that ballots mailed by Black voters were more than twice as likely as those sent in by white voters to be rejected, and this pattern seems to be holding true already in 2020 and to varying degrees across the country. 

We recommend reading through this voting guide for information on how to make sure that your vote gets counted!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // How to Citizen with Baratunde

We love this podcast by writer and activist Baratunde Thurston! In each episode he discusses aspects of what it means to be a citizen with activists and academics and provides tangible actions that listeners can take to become better, more participatory citizens.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Chiwoniso

Chiwoniso was a Zimbabwean singer and songwriter, whose use of the Mbira is at once warm, beautiful and familiar in a totally original way. Caveat: this song will make you feel all kinds of things the first time you hear it, and it's recommended *(by me, who cries easily) that you listen to it when you're ready to let things flow!

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Weekly Newsletter Apr 28, 2020

Bits & Bobs & Odds & Ends

Those of you who have stopped in our stores know that we have lots of fun accessories made by different cooperatives that we work with across Kenya. We've finally added most of them on our site (we'll be adding a few more through the week), so if your pup is in need of a pop of beaded brilliance, or you're in spring cleaning mode and want to brighten up your home with colorful organizers, we've got beautiful collars, handwoven baskets and lots more on the site now!

Meet the weavers! We work with this wonderful group of ladies in central Kenya to make our baskets. This tradition of weaving is passed down through generations and is mostly done by the elders. We're really proud of Victoria, Rebecca, and the entire team for producing such a special collection for us this past year.

 

 

Update from Kenya // 15,000 and counting!

Thanks to your support through donations and purchases, we've produced and donated 15,000 masks to Penda Health and Jacaranda Health. Penda has distributed masks in Nairobi to their staff at their 13 medical centers and support office, their operational partners including drivers who transport their medical staff, community partners including chiefs and police stations, and to their community members. (Hello to Beatrice, Grace and Mr. Kamau in the photos above!) Jacaranda has distributed the masks in their maternity hospital and to their partner clinics outside of Nairobi.

We are continuing to produce masks that we will donate to these two organizations, and if you would like to contribute, send us an email!

Let's sew together! // Homemade how-to

Join us in making masks! Inja and Dee Dee from our SF team have created wonderful tutorials on how to make a mask at home by hand or with a sewing machine! As always, share your pics with us! We love this photo from Noorallah of the masks she made for herself and her family!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw

In this podcast, Kimberlé Crenshaw discusses issues through an intersectional lens, investigating how race, gender and class overlap during her conversations with leading thinkers. We'd particularly recommend listening to episode 6 where she traces the relationship between slavery and the continued systemic oppression of black women today.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Chiwoniso

Chiwoniso was a beautiful singer, but what really stands out about her music is her use of the mbira (an african thumb piano that, until the late 60's, was played exclusively by men.) This album is a classic example of her work--crisp, pure and electrifying. 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Jende and Neni recently immigrated to the US from Cameroon, and they're struggling to make ends meet when Jende gets an opportunity that transforms their lives working for a wealthy family. The financial crisis hits and this new life is thrown into flux as we see varying perspectives and reactions from Jende and Neni and their employers to their world on the edge of financial ruin. Beautifully written and deeply felt, Mbue's depiction of inequality in America is relevant still today.
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Weekly Newsletter Apr 14, 2020

#zurifromhome

Many of us are spending more time than usual at home these days, and we'd love to see how you're styling your Zuri! Whether it's for Zoom, to help with homework, throwing together yet another snack or just lounging around, show us how you #zurifromhome! (And if you're not home because you're out on the front lines, THANK YOU!) Tag us on Instagram or email us a photo -- we could all use a few more rays of sunshine in our inboxes :)

Update from Kenya // 10,000 masks and counting!

As you know, we've shifted our production in Kenya to making masks, and we're really proud to announce that we've produced and donated 10,000 masks as of today to Penda Health, a system of l3 clinics operating in low-income, high density communities across Nairobi, and Jacaranda Health, a non-profit that mentors nurses in public hospitals and operates a maternity hospital in Nairobi. Penda and Jacaranda are distributing the masks to their teams, patients and in their communities (Delphine, Susan, Paul, Titus, Matilda and Caroline are showing them in action above), and we're glad to be able to make an impact. Thanks to your donations from last week, we're able to produce an additional 700 masks! If you'd like to contribute, please respond to this email for details!

Tutorial // Make Your Own Mask

We've compiled all of our instructions for how to make a mask at home into a single place! Visit this link to see step-by-step instructions by Dee Dee with photos, a video tutorial by Inja explaining how to hand-sew a mask, and printable patterns! The CDC now recommends that everyone wear masks when outside, so we encourage you to make one at home!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Blackbelt Voices by Adena J. White, Kara Wilkins, and Katrina Dupins

"Blackbelt shares stories from and about Black folks down South." We love this podcast and can't recommend it enough! Hosts Adena J. White, Kara Wilkins, and Katrina Dupins produce this podcast from Arkansas, and the stories they share are thought-provoking and engaging. We'd recommend starting with episode 1 about the importance of the census, and would like to take this moment as an opportunity to remind you to please out your census form if you haven't already!

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Simi

 

Originally from Lagos, Simi's music is a sweet and joyful antidote to the "stay at home" blues. Since she collaborated with several different artists for Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 (her 31st birthday celebration album), each song has a totally different feel. The next time I turn 31, I'll do the same thing.  

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WHAT WE'RE READING // A Preventable Cancer Is on the Rise in Alabama by Eyal Press

In Alabama, because of the state's refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, women are more likely to die of cervical cancer than anywhere else in the US, and black women are almost twice as likely as white women to die from this preventable cancer. This article confronts a clear injustice and pushes the reader to reflect on how we can use our agency to make our country more equitable for all. 

 

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Weekly Newsletter Mar 24, 2020

UPCOMING EVENTS // INSTAGRAM LIVE // Artist talk with Dennis Muraguri

Join us on Thursday at 1pm EST for an artist talk with Dennis Muraguri on Instagram Live! You may remember Dennis from the our collaboration to make our Ma3 print, and we're looking forward to talking with him!

Not sure what Instagram Live is? Just sign into Instagram and you'll see a circle at the top where the Stories are that says Live, click on that and you'll be able to watch our live conversation!

PS If you have specific questions you want us to ask Dennis, please email or DM us!

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Simone Leigh Artist Talk

Produced by the Guggenheim Museum, this video is a wonderful introduction to Simone Leigh and her artistic process!

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Recording Artists: Betye Saar Working My Mojo

This podcast was produced by the Getty Museum in LA, and features conversations with and about six artists and their relationships with feminism. We especially recommend this episode on Betye Saar, which features interviews with the artist when she was in her late forties. It's incredible to hear about her evolution as an artist, and how the feminist and vivil rights movements around her impacted her work.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // What Do We Want History to Do to Us? : Zadie Smith on Kara Walker

All I can say is read this! Here's an excerpt:

"What might I want history to do to me? I might want history to reduce my historical antagonist—and increase me. I might ask it to urgently remind me why I’m moving forward, away from history. Or speak to me always of our intimate relation, of the ties that bind—and indelibly link—my history and me. I could want history to tell me that my future is tied to my past, whether I want it to be or not. Or ask it to promise me that my future will be revenge upon my past. Or warn me that the past is not erased by this revenge. Or suggest to me that brutal oppression implicates the oppressors, who are in turn brutalized by their own acts of oppression."

 

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE DOING // New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund

If you're able and looking for organizations that you can contribute to during this pandemic, we encourage you to consider the New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund, which helps post bail for individuals who are awaiting trial, but can't afford the cost and must otherwise wait in jail. Especially as this virus spreads, we can make a difference in reducing the number of people who will be infected unnecessarily and help make New Orleans a safer, more equitable place for everyone.

If you'd like to learn more about bail reform, we recommend listening to this!

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