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Weekly Newsletter Apr 14, 2020


Many of us are spending more time than usual at home these days, and we'd love to see how you're styling your Zuri! Whether it's for Zoom, to help with homework, throwing together yet another snack or just lounging around, show us how you #zurifromhome! (And if you're not home because you're out on the front lines, THANK YOU!) Tag us on Instagram or email us a photo -- we could all use a few more rays of sunshine in our inboxes :)

Update from Kenya // 10,000 masks and counting!

As you know, we've shifted our production in Kenya to making masks, and we're really proud to announce that we've produced and donated 10,000 masks as of today to Penda Health, a system of l3 clinics operating in low-income, high density communities across Nairobi, and Jacaranda Health, a non-profit that mentors nurses in public hospitals and operates a maternity hospital in Nairobi. Penda and Jacaranda are distributing the masks to their teams, patients and in their communities (Delphine, Susan, Paul, Titus, Matilda and Caroline are showing them in action above), and we're glad to be able to make an impact. Thanks to your donations from last week, we're able to produce an additional 700 masks! If you'd like to contribute, please respond to this email for details!

Tutorial // Make Your Own Mask

We've compiled all of our instructions for how to make a mask at home into a single place! Visit this link to see step-by-step instructions by Dee Dee with photos, a video tutorial by Inja explaining how to hand-sew a mask, and printable patterns! The CDC now recommends that everyone wear masks when outside, so we encourage you to make one at home!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Blackbelt Voices by Adena J. White, Kara Wilkins, and Katrina Dupins

"Blackbelt shares stories from and about Black folks down South." We love this podcast and can't recommend it enough! Hosts Adena J. White, Kara Wilkins, and Katrina Dupins produce this podcast from Arkansas, and the stories they share are thought-provoking and engaging. We'd recommend starting with episode 1 about the importance of the census, and would like to take this moment as an opportunity to remind you to please out your census form if you haven't already!




Originally from Lagos, Simi's music is a sweet and joyful antidote to the "stay at home" blues. Since she collaborated with several different artists for Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 (her 31st birthday celebration album), each song has a totally different feel. The next time I turn 31, I'll do the same thing.  




WHAT WE'RE READING // A Preventable Cancer Is on the Rise in Alabama by Eyal Press

In Alabama, because of the state's refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, women are more likely to die of cervical cancer than anywhere else in the US, and black women are almost twice as likely as white women to die from this preventable cancer. This article confronts a clear injustice and pushes the reader to reflect on how we can use our agency to make our country more equitable for all. 


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Weekly Newsletter Apr 7, 2020

Kenya Mask Production Update

Following our newsletter last week, many of you asked about our mask production and distribution in Kenya, so here's an update!

We started production last week after sampling various designs, and have set an initial plan to produce and donate 15,000 masks. We are taking all precautions to maintain the health and safety of our team as they make these masks. 

We are collaborating with Penda Health, a local healthcare provider that operates clinics in low income, high density communities in Nairobi to distribute the masks, and we made our first delivery today of 2,000 masks (Salome, Jane, Dorcas and Franklin from the Penda team are showing them off in the photo above!). The team at Penda will distribute the masks at their 13 clinics to patients and their non-medical staff. They will also distribute the masks to their partners in the public transport space who will manage distribution to drivers and passengers.

We are thrilled to be working with Penda and their broader network, and are confident that our masks will be distributed safely and effectively through their channels!

We are taking donations to help increase our production, so if you are interested in contributing, please respond to this email!

No Sewing Machine? No problem!

Our very wonderful Inja from our SF team helped us to make this video explaining how to make a mask at home if you don't have a sewing machine! Using Dee Dee's instructions from last week's newsletter, she made some modifications to show how you can sew this mask by hand. 

As a reminder, these are NOT a substitute for PPE, but can help while hospitals struggle with shortages. To find out where to donate your masks, we suggest visiting, which lists donation sites around the country. Additionally, we recommend contacting your local hospital to find out if they're accepting donations and have specific requests! 

As always, please share your feedback and photos!


Ok, team, this one's for you. I know many of us have been experiencing feelings of loss--of affection, of privacy, of freedom, and just as importantly, of movement. While we can't throw our headphones in and hop on the train, we can still throw our headphones in! So don't forget: we're all in this together, and we'll be moving shortly❤️

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Weekly Newsletter Mar 31, 2020

Let's sew together!

We know that many of you in our Zuri community are sewers, and we'd love to mobilize all of you to join us in making masks! Dee Dee, from our SF team, is a prodigious quilter and sewing instructor, and she has put together an instructional how-to for all of us (experienced and newbies alike), that we hope you will use and share!

As a reminder, these are NOT a substitute for PPE, but can help while hospitals are suffering from severe shortages. To find out where to donate your masks, we suggest visiting this website, which lists donation sites around the country: Additionally, we recommend calling your local hospital to find out if they're accepting donations and have specific requests!

It's always more motivating to do things together, so please send us photos of your masks or your process, so we can share them! Please also share tips and suggestions as you work through the patterns so we can pass them along!

A note from Kenya:

We are starting mask production to distribute free of charge in Kenya to public hospitals and clinics, and we're planning to begin distribution next week. We are taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of our production team as we do this work. We've been consulting with multiple doctors, including an infectious diseases doctor (and Zuri-wearer!) as we develop the mask, so big thanks to all of them!

If you'd like to contribute to this effort, please email us!

Some of you have asked, and while we don't have fabric in the US that we can contribute to this effort since our all our fabric is in Kenya, we take immense inspiration from Nicole, who used extra fabric from her dresses to make these masks!






How to make a mask at home

Pattern and instructions by Dolores Presley

Materials needed:

2 pieces 100% cotton fabric, 7”x9”

2 Pieces 100% cotton fabric, 1-1/4”x5”

2 pieces 100% cotton fabric, 1-1/4”x 40”

Ruler, pins, scissors, sewing machine, thread

How to check your fabric: fold into two layers. You should not be able to see through it, and you should be able to breathe through it.

Lay 7”x9” fabrics wrong sides together. Sew around edges at ¼”.







Create pleats on both sides of 7” edges by placing pins 1-1/2” from top, 2-1/2” from top, 3” from top, 4” from top, 4-1/2” from top, and 5-1/2” from top.  This should leave 1-1/2” on bottom.

Bring first pin to second to create pleat. Repeat with third and fourth, fifth and sixth.






Sew around previous stitching to secure pleats.









With the two 1-1/4”x5” pieces, bind the short sides. You can make double seam binding by evenly folding the strips length wise and pressing, and then folding length wise again. This will make the mask reversible. Or, you can double the strip length wise and sew the back piece (open seam) on first and top stitching the front.

After sewing, trim binding to match mask.

With the two 1-1/4”x40” pieces, you can use the method above to make double seam binding or just double the strip and sew.

With either method, mark the center of the mask and the center of your strip. Match both centers and sew one side onto the mask.


Fold the strip over the top and bottom, and top stitch not only the mask but the entire strip. Before sewing, finish the end of the strip by opening it and turning under ¼”, then folding it back to match the strip.







Feedback or suggestions? Let us know!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // The Stoop by Leila Day and Hana Baba

Hosts Leila and Hana share stories from across the black diaspora in this podcast, highlighting ideas that are often left out of conversations about blackness. In their most recent episode they talk about navigating power as black women journalists, with veteran journalists and also share their own experiences from the field.




WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Super Mama Djombo

Many of us are home right now, and I think we could all use a little space, a little encouragement, and a LOT of Super Mama Djombo. This album will make you bounce--I've been listening to it with headphones to create my own space--it works! So grab your earbuds, ignore everyone else, and great ready to feel GOOD.




WHAT WE'RE READING // The Edge of the World -- A Short Story by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This is a story about feeling alone; it's about love, loss, the little moments that stay with us, and how those moments color a memory. It's a cathartic exercise that only takes about 5 minutes to read, and will leave you feeling all the things.  

P.S. Call your mother.

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Weekly Newsletter Mar 24, 2020

UPCOMING EVENTS // INSTAGRAM LIVE // Artist talk with Dennis Muraguri

Join us on Thursday at 1pm EST for an artist talk with Dennis Muraguri on Instagram Live! You may remember Dennis from the our collaboration to make our Ma3 print, and we're looking forward to talking with him!

Not sure what Instagram Live is? Just sign into Instagram and you'll see a circle at the top where the Stories are that says Live, click on that and you'll be able to watch our live conversation!

PS If you have specific questions you want us to ask Dennis, please email or DM us!

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Simone Leigh Artist Talk

Produced by the Guggenheim Museum, this video is a wonderful introduction to Simone Leigh and her artistic process!


WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Recording Artists: Betye Saar Working My Mojo

This podcast was produced by the Getty Museum in LA, and features conversations with and about six artists and their relationships with feminism. We especially recommend this episode on Betye Saar, which features interviews with the artist when she was in her late forties. It's incredible to hear about her evolution as an artist, and how the feminist and vivil rights movements around her impacted her work.




WHAT WE'RE READING // What Do We Want History to Do to Us? : Zadie Smith on Kara Walker

All I can say is read this! Here's an excerpt:

"What might I want history to do to me? I might want history to reduce my historical antagonist—and increase me. I might ask it to urgently remind me why I’m moving forward, away from history. Or speak to me always of our intimate relation, of the ties that bind—and indelibly link—my history and me. I could want history to tell me that my future is tied to my past, whether I want it to be or not. Or ask it to promise me that my future will be revenge upon my past. Or warn me that the past is not erased by this revenge. Or suggest to me that brutal oppression implicates the oppressors, who are in turn brutalized by their own acts of oppression."



WHAT ELSE WE'RE DOING // New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund

If you're able and looking for organizations that you can contribute to during this pandemic, we encourage you to consider the New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund, which helps post bail for individuals who are awaiting trial, but can't afford the cost and must otherwise wait in jail. Especially as this virus spreads, we can make a difference in reducing the number of people who will be infected unnecessarily and help make New Orleans a safer, more equitable place for everyone.

If you'd like to learn more about bail reform, we recommend listening to this!

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Weekly Newsletter Mar 3, 2020

Meet our Bleecker Team!

Welcome to our flagship store! We opened at 363 Bleecker St in the fall of 2017, and we're so thrilled to have made a home here. If you're in town, come visit!


Meet Mariam! A native New Yorker from the Bronx, she's currently studying retail at FIT. She loves all things skincare, and enjoys finding new places to eat around the city.






From Queens, Alison has an all around love for creativity and art. When not as Zuri, she can be found working on designs at Alterworks Studios in Queens or sharing her songwriting at an open mic. Check out her designs at and follow her at @theartofalison for updates on her artistic endeavors!




Born and raised in the Bronx, Paloma is currently in school and has a deep passion for singing and music. She's been working with us at the store since day one when we opened!




NYC EVENT: Book Launch for The Body Papers with Author Grace Talusan

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // United States of Anxiety

I was a history major in college, and even now, I like to turn to history to try and contextualize what's going on around me. This podcast has been an engaging and thoughtful resource in helping give some context to what's going on as we consider the upcoming election, particularly drawing on post-Civil War Reconstruction to help explain it. Give it a listen and tell us what you think!

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