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BLEECKERVERSARY!

Three years at Bleecker St! <3 <3 <3

We're celebrating three years on Bleecker Street! It feels like only yesterday that we were visiting NYC from Kenya for our first big pop-up, and in a hasty whirlwind of excitement, decided to take a stroll down Bleecker Street "just to see" (and dream a little). We called all the FOR RENT signs one Sunday and were lucky enough that Nick, the broker for #363 answered our call! A few days later, we had a signed lease, a new shop and a much bigger family. We never could've imagined our incredible luck in stumbling upon the greatest landlords ever to have graced NYC.  We'll always remember when we met them that first year over Cuban food at our favorite spot on Christopher St. and they said to us, "We have one daughter, Katie, and now two more--you!" As if we hadn't already felt like part of the family, that first week when Arthur came downstairs with warm pork buns from his mom to welcome us, we knew we were home.

Many of you have met Paloma, who has worked with us since day one, after we interviewed her while all sitting on boxes in our empty store. We're so proud of her and the many other wonderful women who have passed through our doors and who we have the joy to continue to see grow.

Three years later, through snowstorms, countless tacos from Pedro at the Little Taco Shop around the corner, hosting so many of you who've traveled far and wide to visit, in the midst of a pandemic, we still can't think of where we would be, what we would be, without the family we've had the pleasure and honor to be a part of at 363 Bleecker. It's because of you that we get to keep our doors open, and we're so grateful for the opportunity. While we can never know what the future will bring, we're proud to be able to share it with you from our little perch on Bleecker Street!

WHAT WE'RE READING // Michaela Coel's Pressure Points by Durga Chew-Bose

If you haven't seen Michaela Coel's new show I May Destroy You, getting a subscription to HBO just to watch it is completely worth it. Deeply felt, brilliantly written and strikingly thoughtful this show is everything. This article and interview takes you into the mind of the show's creator, director and star and gives you a glimpse into the genius that is Michaela Coel.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Come Through with Rebecca Carroll

 

Join Rebecca Carroll, culture critic for WNYC, on this podcast where she hosts conversations about race, culture and identity with thinkers, artists, writer and politicians. We especially recommend listening to episode 9 with author Bassey Ikpi where they discuss the stigma that black women face when talking about mental health.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Baaba Maal

We love Baaba Maal, and this 2009 collaboration with New York-based Brazilian Girls brings a fresh sound to both of their work.  Each song on the album is totally different than the one before it, so it can be a little disorienting to listen to, but every one truly deserves to be heard.  (Hint--if you like Manu Chao, you might love this album!

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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 25, 2020

Production Update!

We are grateful that from the start of the pandemic, Kenya took a pro-active approach to managing Covid-19, including closing down international and urban borders early on in order to minimize spread and exposures. As a result, we have been able to continue to operate our production, with safeguards in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of our team. Keeping our production going has been a top priority for us because it has allowed us to keep 100% of our team employed (including Maggie and Benedetta above), while generating income for their families, safely. We thought that you might be curious to see for yourself, and to meet some members of our team

Hello Irene! Irene is in charge of final measurements, checking every dress and shirt to make sure that the correct arm has been attached to the correct shoulder, and that everything is cut and stitched to the right size!

Meet Nancy! She's responsible for sorting all of the parts of our dresses before they are stitched! After receiving them from the cutting room, she organizes them by size, and makes sure that from collar to cuff, placket to pocket, we're always in good "shape".

Mariam does final checking on each of our dresses, which means that she inspects the entire garment to make sure that it's looking its best for you! She makes sure our cuffs are well stitched, our buttons are sewn tightly, and our seams are straight as can be, so that your dress looks 100% by the time it ships out!

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Toyin Ojih Odutola in Conversation with Yaa Gyasi and Texas Isaiah

Artist Toyin Ojih Odutola has a new show opening at the Barbican in the UK, and since most of us can't visit, we are watching this conversation about her 2018 show at the Whitney instead! We love how Ojih Odutola's work speaks as much through subject as through texture, and we can't wait for the opportunity to see her work in person again soon!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Vieux Farka Touré

The son of legendary Malian guitarist, Ali Farka Touré, Vieux Farka Touré entered the music scene at a young age by playing percussion (calabash and drums), and his solo guitar compositions have been celebrated worldwide. After a chance meeting in Germany, he wound up playing an impromptu session in Tel Aviv with singer-songwriter Idan Raichel--if you haven't already heard the Touré-Raichel Collective, it's truly worth a listen.

WHAT WE'RE READING // THE LIFE BREONNA TAYLOR LIVED, IN THE WORDS OF HER MOTHER by TA-NEHISI COATES

Many of you already know about Breonna Taylor, but for those who don't, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police when they illegally entered her home on March 13, and to date, no one has been arrested or charged in her murder. Through a series of interviews with her mother, Tamika Palmer, Ta-Nehisi Coates shares with us a portrait of her life. 

 Want to take action? Here are some ways to demand justice:

 

 

-Sign this petition asking for the officers involved to be arrested and charged and for Congress to pass legislation that federally bans “no-knock” warrants.
-Donate to the GoFundMe for Taylor's family.
-Send an email to the Kentucky Attorney General, Mayor, and Governor using the links provided here.
-Read this report by The Marshall Project about bills passing through Congress that would ban no-knock warrants in federal law enforcement and take away funding from local police departments that did not do the same. Contact your local representatives and ask them to support this legislation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 28, 2020

Market Days

We usually travel monthly to the markets to source fabric for our clothing, and throughout the month are in touch with vendors to see what's new (in the market and in their lives!). While we aren't able to go to the markets now, we're revisiting photos from a recent trip to Dar es Salaam, and some of the fabrics may look familiar!

Meet Emmy! She always has the most wonderful prints, especially in the crackle batik style, and we're so excited to share Verdant and Cornucopia with you, both sourced from her!

 

 

 

Lunch is a pretty big deal for us in life and in work, and it's hard to express in words the feeling of relief and excitement when we sit down to a heaping plate of rice, veggies, fried tilapia and a bowl of beans!

The fabric section of the market is a mere fraction of the entire, much larger market, and it's always fun to wander through the other areas, especially where produce is being sold, to see what's in season and new! How amazing do these little peaches, tree tomatoes and passion fruits look?

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Les Filles de Illighadad

 

These filles ROCK!  Based in Niger, the lead vocalist and performer, Fatou Seidi Ghali, is one of the only female Tuareg guitarists in the region, and is completely self-taught. They have a beautifully rich sound and I promise you will keep this album cycling through your "favorites" for years to come.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

 

 

 

This multi-generational epic weaves together four generations of families whose lives have sprouted from the fertile Zambezi delta. Serpell's evocative storytelling amplifies reality and gives us a lesson in history and a deep exploration of relationships and family.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Zenele Muholi at the Seattle Art Museum 

South African Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer, and in this video, they talk about their work and while it's not a substitute for seeing their powerful, moving work in person, it's pretty close!

 

 

 

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