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How it's 100% Made in Kenya

We're super excited about our new 100% made in Kenya textiles, and we thought that we'd share a bit more with you about how the fabrics are made!

The cotton that we're using is sourced from smallholder farmers in Western Kenya. It is ginned in a factory in Makueni County in south western Kenya, and then it's sent to the factory we're partnered with for spinning and weaving!

The WisteriaTidal and Mosaic prints were designed by Stephen and his team. Here you can see him standing with the rolls, which are each etched with a different component layer of the design. As the fabric is passed through the rolls, it gets a different part of the design and color from each roll. Below you can see elements from the Mosaic and Tidal rolls.

 

 

The final step in the printing process is heat! The fabric goes through a high temperature press to make sure that the colors are completely set so that when you wash it, the colors don't run! 

The production process is a constant marvel, and every step is a learning process for us. Thanks for joining us on this journey!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Black Frasier by Phoebe Robinson

You may know comedian Phoebe Robinson from her incredible podcast and TV show 2 Dope Queens and her books and essays, and we are so excited that she's back on the airwaves with a new podcast, Black Frasier. We can't encourage enough listening to her conversation with Michelle Obama on why it's so important to VOTE!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE DOING // Training to be Election Defenders

Whether you're feeling energized or overwhelmed by election season, in addition to voting, we encourage you to take action! We're excited about The Frontline, an organization sponsored by the Working Families Organization, the Working Families Party, and the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, which is training individuals on how to become Election Defenders, teaching how to spot voter suppression, and what to do about it.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Alsarah and the Nubatones

Self dubbed as East African retro-pop, the borderless sound of Brooklyn-based Sudanese singer Alsarah and the Nubatones is both rich and soulful. Inspired by Nubian "songs of return", you'll love the feeling of movement this album brings.

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#PTO2GOTV

We're collaborating with Block Shop Textiles, another women-led business that we absolutely love to launch a small business pledge to commit to giving our teams PTO (paid time off) to GOTV (get out the VOTE)! We've compiled an action-oriented resource guide with clear steps that we can each take to empower our teams and communities.

With only TWO weeks left until Election Day, we're doing all we can to encourage you, our community to vote, and our broader community of small businesses to take action! We hope that you'll join us! 

PS If you’d like to share these slides on your own channels, feel free to reshare or email us and we’ll send them to you!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // In The Thick with Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela

Award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela host this podcast where they talk about race, politics and identity. Diving deep into current events through conversations with activists, politicians and academics, this podcast is engaging, informative and brings an essential perspective to the broader political narrative.

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // In Florida, the Gutting of a Landmark Law Leaves Few Felons Likely to Vote

As we cast our ballots over the next few weeks, let's take some time to remember our fellow Americans who will not be voting because of unjust laws and restrictions preventing them from exercising one of our most fundamental rights in our democracy. Florida's Amendment 4 is a glaring example of voter disenfranchisement instituting a poll tax on felons, what a US District Judge ruled an illegal “pay-to-vote” system that disproportionately impacts Black Floridians. We encourage you to read this article that details the impact of Amendment 4 and we hope that if you are eligible to vote but weren't planning to, it might change your mind!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Mulatu's New Album!

For those of you who haven't yet listened to the Addis Ababa legend, Mulatu Astatke, this is not necessarily the quintessential place to start. But if you have, this brand new collaborative album with Melbourne-based Black Jesus Experience brings an inspired spin to his classic 60's style of Ethio-jazz, which I think you'll really love!

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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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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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