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We first reached out to illustrator Lulu Kitololo last summer to create textile designs together, and we are so excited to be sharing a preview (of sorts) with you through her beautiful greeting cards! Don't fret, we have there textiles in production at this moment, but we thought, what main course isn't made better with an amuse bouche?

Lulu is the founder of Lulu Kitololo Studio in Nairobi, where she creates designs that celebrate diversity – drawing inspiration from nature, as well as cultures and crafts from around the world and in particular, her beloved home continent, Africa. We're thrilled to be able to share her gorgeous cards with you, and hope that they will help to spread joy wherever they go! PS Check in next week for an artist's interview with Lulu!

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Once you start reading this novel, I promise you won't be able to put it down. Through the stories of two families who give everything up to come to America, Henriquez shares the stories of an entire community -- individual stories of love, live and American dreams. These are deeply relatable stories, immigrant or not - how we deal with guilt, how we shelter those we love from pain, and how we all suffer from unseen, unspoken and unpredictable consequences - she shares the profound humanity in the inhumane.

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Tell Them, I Am with Misha Euceph

We love listening to these conversations between Misha and her guests about defining experiences in their lives. Each guest and story varies but they are connected by the thread of being Muslim voices in America. From last week's episode with Jewher Ilham about her father, a Uyghur professor and human rights advocate to chef Reem Assil and early her love for filmmaking, these are fun and engaging listens!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // LADY DONLI

Born in Cleveland and raised in Abuja, Lady Donli brings a cross cultural perspective to her music, which bounces between R & B, alternate jazz, highlife and Afrobeat, all in a desire to provide a sense of escapism.  Let's join her, shall we?

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BATIKS IN PROGRESS!

Join us behind the batik scenes! For the last four years we've collaborated with Edwina and her team in Accra, Ghana to produce all of our wax-stamped batiks, and we're super proud to share this process with you!

BOOK CLUB REMINDER + UPDATE! 📚

Please join us via Zoom on Sunday, April 11th at 1PM EST (10AM PST) for our first bookclub! This month's selection is: We Do This 'Til We Free Us, by Mariame Kaba

Our host this month will be Ruth Nyambura. Ruth is a political ecologist and eco-feminist from Kenya who focuses on the intersections of gender, economy and ecological justice in the Global South. 

The discussion should last about an hour, but feel free to hop in or out! While there's no need to participate actively, here's a page with a list of discussion items to consider. We look forward to seeing you soon!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Aura by Nenny

Born to Cape Verdean parents in Portugal, Nenny wrote and performed her first song at age 10. Her strong, rich sound combines influences of rap, soul, and R & B in a truly original way.

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // What a Day Podcast

What A Day cuts through all the chaos and clickbait to help you understand what matters and how you can fix it. Comedian Akilah Hughes and reporter Gideon Resnick break down the biggest news of the day and share important stories you may have missed--—all in just 20 minutes.

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Getting to know Joanne!

We are thrilled to be working with Joanne Kalute on new textile designs for our 100% Made in Kenya collection. She's the creative force behind our Brock On print which we're obsessed with (see: napkinstable runners AND aprons!) and now our newest design, one that we know many of you have been lusting over, it's red, it's got cheetahs all over and it's truly the Cat's Meow! We're so pleased to introduce Joanne Kalute in her own words...

When did you know you wanted to be a textile designer, and how did you get started?

I started my textile design journey in 2012 - I was part of a creative mothers group in Melbourne and one of the ladies casually mentioned the Spoonflower website where one could custom design and print their own fabrics inexpensively.

My curiosity peaked so I checked it out. My mind was blown! I already had a healthy stash of fabrics from my sewing hobby but looking at the Spoonflower website was the incentive I needed to start designing my own. They offered design resources on their blog and a handbook/ guide to fabric design. Within a short time I was designing prints for my own home decor and fashion projects.

In 2018, after moving to Sydney for a sea change, I felt I had some solid prints in my portfolio so I decided to start my own Swimwear business as a means to showcase my prints. In 2020, I pivoted my business into art licensing my patterns to other businesses for their products.

One thing we especially love about your work is the richness of color. How does this boldness reflect your personality?

I love bold colours as they make for a memorable design. Funny thing is, growing up in Nairobi, I remember being teased for my colour-clashing outfits. I come from the Kamba people who are known for their flamboyant use of colour in their dress code. What can I say? It’s in the DNA!

Tell us about the cheetahs and the eyes! Where did these ideas come from and what is the significance behind them?

My designs often have a message or meaning behind them. My Eye print was inspired by the Swahili saying- ‘Macho hayana pazia’ which translates to the ‘ Eyes have no veil.’ I designed this pattern in 2018 when the term “Stay Woke” was a popular catch-phrase. As for my Cheetah print, I designed it during the pandemic out of a nostalgia for my birth country when my plans of visiting Kenya were thwarted.

What are your primary inspirations when you create a design?

I am inspired by my Kenyan heritage and upbringing, the beauty and diversity of the African diaspora and its people and everyday living in the East Coast of Sydney. I am planning a solo exhibition in July 2021 that will be largely inspired by Swahili culture so I’m doing a lot of research on that at the moment.

How do you feel about ladies all over the world wearing your work?

I feel accomplished and fulfilled when I see my designs come to life in such beautiful ways as the Zuri dress. I love the sense of connection and community that it brings - which makes my work meaningful.

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste's masterpiece about the Ethiopian fight against the Italians in the lead-up to WWII unveils itself slowly through the women warriors who stopped at nothing to protect their country. In turns heartbreaking, agonizing and gripping, this novel is an education in the extraordinary contribution of women in the fight for Ethiopia and an infuriating remind of the monstrosity of war.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Nour by Malouma

Born in Mauritania, Malouma began singing at age 12 but had to stop when she was forced into marriage as a teenager. Her music addresses the unequal treatment of women and was banned in Mauritania in the early 90's. She has since become a world-renowned musician and politician, and I think you'll love her take on this desert blues style.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // "We Already Belong": A Conversation With R.O. Kwo‪n‬ on Rough Translation

 

In the last couple of weeks, amid all the news stories, social media declarations and magazine think pieces on anti-Asian racism and violence, I've struggled to find work that I felt spoke directly to my own experience as an Asian American woman making sense of this moment, communicating with my family and relating to the world around me. Listening to this conversation with author R.O. Kwon felt like a salve - the way she talks about when she finally worked up the courage to warn her Korean immigrant mother about going grocery shopping, to her mother's response, a list of reasons why it's okay, and instead turning the worry back onto her - it's a heartbreaking listen, but also, deeply, frustratingly real.

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Zuri Community Spotlight: Young Readers Authors!

Our Zuri community is filled with so many incredible, talented writers that we realized that in addition to compiling this great work on our Reading List, we should make a Bookshop! We've got a wonderful selection of works from many of our Zuri community authors, as well as some of our favorite newsletter picks! We hope you'll enjoy it, and of course, if there's a book that you'd like us to consider including, you can always drop us a line at heyzuri@shopzuri.com.

Meet Carmen Rubin! She's an acclaimed author of picture books, interactive ebooks, apps, and animated children's programming. Her best-known work, Ashti Meets Birdman Al has lyrically warmed the hearts of many children and their families. For decades, she has used her voice to empower youth, promote literacy, and reinforce the importance of keeping music in elementary schools. 

 

 

We were so thrilled to learn that our dresses were the uniform of Aisha Saeed's recent book tours! Aisha is a New York Times bestselling author whose novel Written in the Stars was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is the author of the middle grade novel Amal Unbound, the picture book Bilal Cooks Dal and the Wonder Woman Adventure series. Aisha is also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, an organization advocating for greater representation of diverse characters in children's books.

 

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is an acclaimed Korean-American writer and author of the novels Finding My Voice and Somebody’s Daughter. Her stories and essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Guernica, and The Guardian, among others. She was the first Fulbright Scholar to Korea in creative writing and has received many honors for her work. She's a founder of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and was an Our Word Writer in Residence for the Columbia MFA program. She runs a reading series at Columbia and shared with us that at one reading 3 of the 4 writers were wearing Zuri! Incredible!

 

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @wellreadblackgirl

If you're looking for some fabulous reading recommendations focusing on the works of Black authors, and the Zuri newsletter alone is not getting the job done, we think you'll love Glory Edim's Instagram universe, which loops you in on all kinds of literary goodness.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Snap Judgement Podcast

Glynn Washington hosts this weekly radio hour, which features dramatic tales, each told by super talented emerging storytellers. We think you'll especially enjoy his latest episode, "Birdzilla" about the biggest baddest bird in the wild, who is on the brink of death, and the couple that will do anything to bring her back home. ("A Canadian love story.")

SMALL BUSINESSES WE LOVE // Tackussanu Senegal

Harlem-based shop Tackussanu Senegal creates the most gorgeous handmade baskets, as well as other items for the home, all made by artisan groups in Senegal. From storage baskets to accent trays, Jasz and Cheikh have an amazing eye for color and we think you'll absolutely love their work! 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Mariem Hassan

We're HUGE fans of Mariem Hassan, who was a singer and songwriter from Western Sahara.  A political voice for the Sahrawi people, her sound transitions seamlessly from desert blues to soulful ballads, and we know that you'll love her work as much as we do. 

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Weekly Newsletter Feb 2nd, 2021

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @floresparaosrefugiados

Admittedly, I have no idea what any of these posts say, but this floral designer from Brazil creates arrangements that are just so wildly beautiful it's worth a share.  Each day's post is like a flower delivery to your phone which, had it been sent with a card, might say something like "Eat your heart out, FTD!"

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Scam Goddess with Laci Mosley

Do you LOVE true crime but just wish it had more of a comic twist? Do you enjoy cracking cases AND cracking up? Tune in to Laci Mosley's weekly podcast "Scam Goddess", which is 100% dedicated to fraud and all those who practice it. 

 

 

 

BUSINESSES WE LOVE // Micah's Mixx

Micah Harrigan is a 10 year old from Philadelphia who started a lemonade stand to earn money for college (he hopes to go to Morehouse), and managed to turn it into a fabulously successful business.  While he says that lemonade is his "back up plan", we have a feeling that this young tycoon will not need a plan B. While it may not be hot out right now, in this case, a little vitamin C goes a long way.

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Arise by Zara McFarlane

Lately, I've been loving British-Jamaican singer/songwriter Zara McFarlane's 2017 album "Arise". Blending influences of jazz, reggae and a hint of psychedelic rock through an exploration of the musical traditions of her African Caribbean heritage, this album has a smooth sound that we think you'll really enjoy!

 

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