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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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Bookstyle Nairobi!

Meet Ubax, the owner of our new favorite Nairobi bookshop! Born in London to Kenyan-Somali parents, she's created a truly incredible space and community around her thoughtfully curated collection of books and publications. It's more important now than ever that we support our independent booksellers, wherever in the world they may be! We're always thinking of creative ways to connect world-wide, so here's a little glimpse inside Cheche, and we hope you'll enjoy the tour!  In the meantime, you can find our crowd-sourced list of bookshops we love on our Community Reading List HERE!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Afros and Knives Podcast

Afros and Knives, hosted by Chef Tiffani, is a culinary, culture and lifestyle podcast that has hosted conversations with black women who work, lead and create in the food, wine, and hospitality industries. We've found these conversations to be super inspiring, and we especially love the intimate way they play out, bringing the listener into the fold, so to speak:)  We hope you'll check it out!

 

WHAT WE'RE READING// Luster (a novel)

A best book of the year according to Vanity Fair, The NYT Book Review, and NPR among others, it's safe to say that we're not the only ones who truly enjoyed this book! This story of an independent, multi-dimensional young woman trying to make sense of her life is told with such wit, skill and humor, the writing alone is worth the read. 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Mahalia Jackson

As one of the most influential gospel singers and civil rights activists in the United States, Mahalia Jackson once explained that she chose gospel over blues because "With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues." (Fair enough.) She was given the honor of performing at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Atlanta funeral, and in this album, she pays tribute to him once again by singing his best loved hymns. 

 

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING // @VELMA.ROSAI

Velma Rosai-Makhandia is a fashion and art director/photographer/(icon!) based in Kenya, and we are HUGE FANS. Founder of both the style blog 2manysiblings and also the monthly pop-up event, Thrift Social*, she epitomizes the individuality of Nairobi style.  

*Fun Fact! The photo on our 'About Us' page was taken at an early Thrift Social event

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SNEAK PEEK! 👀 // NEW PRINTS IN THE WORKS!

We've been having SO MUCH FUN working with several very talented textile designers over the last few months to develop designs we think you'll really fall for. Each one of these beauties will be part of our 100% Made in Kenya textile line, using cotton that is grown, spun, woven, and printed all right here in Kenya. Production this localized is both rare and special, as it allows us to tell our story from beginning to end. What we especially love about these fabrics is the intimacy we have with the origin of the designs, and the fact that the women who created them will be able to share the inspiration and significance of each directly with you! This year you'll be meeting artists Shadé Akanbi, Angela Muritu, Jo Kalute, Phathu Nembilwi, and Lulu Kitololo. We can't wait for you to see their final work, and hear their thoughts about these functional, wearable works of art! 

And now, a bit about the PROCESS!

VOTE in Zuri // GEORGIA!

Today is Runoff Election Day in Georgia for two Senate seats that will determine the scope of Congress's work over the next four years so it couldn't be a more important day to VOTE! If you are a Georgia voter, follow these steps for a 10% off code on any upcoming order!

1) Throw on your favorite Zuri.
2) VOTE!
3) Take a selfie of yourself at the polls, with your ballot or with an "I VOTED" sticker on your dress.
4) Post the pic on Instagram + tag @zurikenya, send us a DM or email us a pic!
5) Check your Instagram DMs or email for a code for 10% off any purchase!

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @ACCRAPHOTO

A creative and a photojournalist living in Accra, Ghana, Francis Kokoroko takes the most whimsical and beautiful pictures, with an eye toward documenting the ever-evolving cultures and everyday life of people on the African continent. An intimate and relatable glimpse into the lives of others, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Lianne La Havas

Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Lianne La Havas deserves all the accolades she's been getting lately. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Greek father, her sound is a mostly acoustic hybrid of funk and soul, inspired by Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill.  (Oh, and did I mention that she performed a fabulous Tiny Desk Concert for NPR?)

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING// Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

If you haven't read Jacqueline Woodson's recent novel, Red at the Bone, we can't recommend it enough! Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of families, and in the life of the new child. This story is told so beautifully, her writing has been compared to the legendary Toni Morrison; we couldn't agree more.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO //The Power Is Out, with Ngofeen Mputubwele

I recently heard WNYC podcast journalist Ngofeen Mputubwele interviewed by Gregory Warner in his Rough Translation episode, "We Don't Say That".  As one of the only Congolese families within a hundred miles of his childhood home in West Tennessee, Mputubwele found that storytelling was a way for him to relate to the world around him, and to help others do the same. Listen to his portraits told through story on The Power is Out.  

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LOVE AND GRATITUDE (and Feedback!) 🍾

As we look forward to the New Year ahead, we want to take a moment and reflect on the last. We're proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2020, from launching our 100% Made in Kenya textile line, to developing new hand-dyed batik textiles with Edwina's team in Ghana, to SOLIDS (wwwhat?!), but we also want to take time to recognize the immense struggles and challenges that have brought us closer in unplanned and rewarding ways. It's been a difficult year for everyone, and we couldn't be more grateful for your continued support and enthusiasm -- YOU are the reason why we have the privilege to do what we do, and YOU have enabled us to keep our doors open, our teams in the US, UK and Kenya safely employed, $42,300 donated 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, AND countless individuals brightening our days in colorful frocks around the world! Thank you.

NOW, FOR THE FEEDBACK PART: 

As you know, we're a pretty small team, and we're lucky enough to hear all the comments and suggestions that pass our way.  We wanted to call out a few common requests and let you know the status, before we ask for your time and input below.  

First off, many of you have asked for a longer length dress option, and we ARE planning to put that into action. The reason we haven't just yet is because frankly, we're a little worried about order mix-ups!  We'll get it done, we promise, and there's a question in the survey below about the best way forward.  Secondly, we know that we're short on certain sizes, but we want to know how short--we'd love to hear how many of you have missed out on your size being available in the print that you wanted, so that we know generally how many more units to produce! Finally, for our international (non US/CAN) customers, we'll be making some changes because of Brexit and we'd love to hear from you about your shipping experience, cost and comfort level!

*If you have comments that are not included or possible to answer in full in this survey, please email us at heyzuri@shopzuri.com.

 

ZURI HOLIDAY ZOOM RECAP!

If you were ever curious who you might meet at one of our shops, here's a pretty special visual!! We had a fabulous group of women who joined us; mothers, daughters and sisters, as well friends old and new, all the way from San Francisco to Berlin!  We really loved connecting with you, and knowing that a few of you have already connected with each other!  Thank you ALL for sharing your time and spirit!  What a fabulous way to ring in 2021! ❤️

WHAT WE'RE READING // Katy: A Short Story by Bryan Washington

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @NUR_CERAMICS

We've had the pleasure of meeting Dina several times, both in Kenya and New York, and we've loved following the evolution of her work over the last few years. UM ANDDD, if you'd like to join us for tea-time on Bleecker Street, her chalices your herbal brew shall hold!  

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // THEE LEGACY

This love song (sung in both Zulu and English by South African acapella singers Thee Legacy) is just SO GOOD. If you love Ladysmith Black Mombazo (ANDDD I'll just throw this out there: Boys to Men?!), transport yourself to a sweeter place and time with this track. Let's all go there, shall we?

 

 

ARTIST OF THE WEEK // DICKENS OTIENO

Nairobi-based artist Dickens Otieno’s tapestries both use and draw attention to the potential beauty in objects that would otherwise be dismissed as useless. His work has literally stopped me in my tracks--it's a thing of beauty, structure, and movement. I hope you'll enjoy learning about his work and his process!  

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WHAT?! THAT'S RIGHT: A ZURI HOLIDAY PARTY!

Have you ever found yourself chatting in one of our shops or noticed a fellow Zurista (™ pending) on Instagram and thought: "Now this is someone I'd love to know!" Well, now's the chance! Since social distancing has leveled our digital playing field, we thought: what a fabulous opportunity to connect with other women whose work or spirit we admire, even from afar! So whether you were curious what new mixed-media piece Soad Kader might be unveiling, which Soulpreneurship course Dr. Shelley Best is leading this month, or EVEN what sort of wild and crazy socks Ginger decided to pair with her "Make It Rain" dress today (which trust me, is on ALL of our minds), this is our chance for all of you free radicals to collide; let's create some energy...over say, mimosas? 

We'll be hosting a 40 minute Zoom call THIS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19TH AT 11AM PST, 2PM EST here! Our team will be joining from all over and can't WAIT to meet you! Drop in, drop out, feel free! 

For those of you who would like to connect with others on a more permanent basis, please feel free to request that we share your email address with this limited group for this discrete purpose. Might even be a fun book club, no?

INSTA CORNER! WHO WE'RE FOLLOWING: @PLANTKWEEN

We all have plants (some more alive than others 🙄), and we could all use a little cheer this holiday season! Christopher, aka Plantkween, aka the most delightful voice on Instagram these days, is chock full of humor, fashion and the best tips for plant nurturing you're likely to come across in these hallowed interwebs. Hop on, and ENJOY!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Otile Brown

Originally from western Kenya, Otile Brown's kunidzia music (meaning, "crossing the boundaries" and which Tanzanians refer to as Bongo), is just the sweet, melodic thing we all need right now.  His track, Dusuma (Doucement) is one of the most played songs on Nairobi radio right now--next time you're in the car, turn it up! 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Originally from Zimbabwe, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's story is told through the lens of an enigmatic lodger who "knows that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future". Written with dark humor, wit, and seduction, House of Stone is a sweeping epic that spans the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe’s turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a nation seeking an identity.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders

Each week, Sam Sanders interviews people in our culture who deserve your attention. His recent episode, "How to Have Better Conversations" was especially fun (not to mention timely!) as he gains advice from the owner of a hair salon, whose job has taught her how to be a good conversationalist. We've spent a LOT of time alone this year; let's tune-in and brush-up!

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