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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.

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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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GIVING UPDATE // Voter Participation Center

GIVING UPDATE // Voter Participation Center

For the month of August, we decided that we wanted to direct the proceeds from our mask sales to the Voter Participation Center because we strongly believe in the importance of representation in our political systems and that the first step to accomplishing that is through voting! The Voter Participation Center has helped millions of people to register to vote, and has focused specifically on outreach to women, BIPOC and young people. Thanks to your mask purchases, not only are you making us all safer by wearing a mask (!!!) but you've enabled us to donate $5,000 this month to support creating an inclusive and representative democracy.

WHAT WE'RE DOING // Registering to VOTE

Are you registered to vote? Think you are but aren't 100% sure? Register here, and then check in with your friends and family! There are 62 days left before the election, and together, we can make our voices heard!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Vote! The Podcast with Kat Calvin and Andrea Hailey

The executive directors of Vote.org and Spread The Vote, Kat and Andrea answer all your questions and more about voting! If you want to learn more about voter suppression, how voting by mail will actually work, or more about mobilizing the youth vote, take a listen, and of course, don't forget to register to vote!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // PRISCILA TOSSAN

The latest album by Brazilian singer and songwriter Priscila Tossan is bound to become one of your new favorites.  With an original sound that is ultra smooth, but a strong enough beat to keep you moving, it's the perfect album for a late summer's afternoon.

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Weekly Newsletter Aug 4, 2020

Community Spotlight: Zuri writes!

We're big readers and it is an endless delight that we get to fill our libraries with the thoughtful, inspiring work of authors from within our Zuri community! If you're a writer, send us a message so we can be sure to add your work to our library!

Grace Talusan's first book, The Body Papers,  is a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, a Must-Read for the Massachusetts Book Awards, a Foreword INDIES Finalist, and winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. It recently came out in paperback, and we can't recommend it enough!

Edwidge Danticat is the author of many books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection and Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist. Her memoir, Brother, I'm Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. Her most recent book, Everything Inside, is a stunning must-read!

Audrey Ferber is fixture at the Writer's Grotto in SF, and her short stories have appeared in Fiction International, The Cimarron Review, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, Literary Mama, the anthologies VIRTUALLY NOW, Eating Our Hearts Out, The Intricate Weave, and elsewhere. She was also one of our earliest supporters in SF, where she modeled our dresses in the SF Chronicle, and we're excited to share her newest work, here!

 

 

 

JULY GIVING UPDATE // Equal Justice Initiative

Thanks to your mask purchases, we are so proud that we were able to make a donation of $7,200 to the Equal Justice Initiative for the month of July. That brings the total contribution that we've made to EJI in the last two months to $15,930! We couldn't be prouder that we have been able to make this impact together, as a community! 

As we near the elections in November, we would like to direct our focus towards voter registration. For the month of August, we will be donating to the Voter Participation Center, which has a really smart and effective approach for getting the Rising American Electorate (young people, people of color, and single women) registered and voting through methodically tested mail programs, which are particularly important in the context of the pandemic. Voter registrations are way down in 2020 due to COVID-19, and now, more than ever, we are committed to making sure that all voices are heard and represented in our government.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Richard II at the Public Theater

Whether you're a Shakespeare fan or just love live performance, this radio broadcast is for you! Starring Andre Holland and developed in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, this performance feels contemporary and resonant.

WHAT WE'RE READING // So Brutal a Death by Edwidge Danticat

In this essay reflecting on George Floyd's killing, Edwidge Danticat writes about the immigrant experience and global solidarity. "In the agony of his final moments, while crying out for his mama, water, and breath, George Floyd reached out to and became all of us. He has joined a vast community of people, across the globe, who see echoes of the injustices and the inequalities of their own societies in his American story, and recognize their own torment in his suffering."

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE

Ambrose Akinmusire is a trumpeter, composer and bandleader whose music both transcends and redefines his instrument's place in jazz.  He's been known for pitting contemporary classical music against deconstructed hip-hop, finding beauty in the fusing of two extremes. The next time you need to clear your mind, think of this album as your reset button; it'll change the course of your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly newsletter July 7, 2020

Community spotlight!

We love seeing you in Zuris out and about and in the news, and we especially love when you share your sightings and run-ins with us! We've said it before, but we are constantly amazed and inspired by the incredible women in our community, and we're spotlighting a few today!

Meet Prof. Melissa Murray! She's a Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law and Co-Director of the Birnbaum Women's Leadership Network, and a leading expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice. She also co-hosts Strictly Scrutiny, a podcast about the Supreme Court. We'd highly recommend giving it a listen, especially if you're interested in recent Court decisions and how they affect us all.

 

Minerva Cuevas is a conceptual artist whose socially engaged practice encompasses a range of strategies and media including film, installation, performance, and site-specific public intervention. Her on-going work, Mejor Vida Corp.is a non-profit corporation that creates, promotes and distributes products and services for free, and through these subversive interventions, she is challenging how we think about our established economic and political systems.

 

 

 

Activist Alice Wong is the Founder and Director of the Disability Visibility Project, a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture. She is the editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, which just came out and we can't recommend it enough!

 

 

 

 

Artist Claire Ashley transforms ordinary materials into inflatable painted sculptures and they are truly mind-blowing! Her work investigates inflatables as painting, sculpture, installation and performance costume. These works have been exhibited nationally and internationally and we love their humor and interactivity.

 

 

 

 

GIVING UPDATE // Equal Justice Initiative

We are so proud and grateful to you, our community, for your masks purchases that have enabled us to donate a total of $8,700 from mask sales from the month of June to the Equal Justice Initiative. We will continue to direct the proceeds from masks sales this month to the Equal Justice Initiative to support their work to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.

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