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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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PROUDLY INTRODUCING: HAND-LOOMED LINENS YOU'LL LOVE!

This June, we were thrilled to release our first line of solid-colored hand-loomed linens, produced in collaboration with team Sasha (pictured above)!  Woven by India's oldest certified fair-trade artisanal weaving cooperative, these textiles turned out so beautifully, we decided to expand this partnership with new colors, textures and techniques!

Over the last several months, we've been working together on some gorgeous textiles, starting with the colorfully rich (and super cozy) beauties below.  Each of these fabrics is a hand-loomed blend of cotton and linen, and takes about 4 months to complete. (While the fabric was produced in India, the dresses were all proudly stitched in Kenya by our team.) This fabulous 70% linen/30% cotton blend both creates subtle texture and movement within the weave, and also ensures that your dresses will be super easy to wash and wear -- they're wrinkle resistant, durable, and as an added bonus, will drape a bit more gracefully when worn.

We hope that you will love them as much as we do, and that they'll bring both joy and color to your world!

Holiday Reading List

 

We're book lovers here at Zuri, and we love that so many of you in our community are, too! This holiday season, what better gift to share than a really good read? We've compiled a list of Zuri writers that we'd love you to join us in supporting and celebrating, and we're highlighting local women and/or BIPOC owned bookstores, where you can find these books and many more!  We'd also love your recommendations, so if you're an author or have a bookstore that you'd love us to include, drop us a line at heyzuri@shopzuri.com.  (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Edwidge Danticat, Monique Truong, Tracy K. Smith and Zadie Smith.)

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta

Started in Burkina Faso in 1964 by Kone Idrissa, Volta Jazz became a symbol of global inspriation, fusing Cuban influences with west African funk. This all-star compilation album is a nostalgic must-listen--it's an especially perfect soundtrack for an evening spent cooking, as it will definitely turn up the heat! 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Set in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1969, Deacon King Kong reminds us what we love about New York, and about humanity itself.  The story details the tailspin of Deacon Cuffy ("Sportcoat") after the loss of his wife, through his interactions with an ensemble cast of truly memorable characters, and is told in way that is quick, witty and humorous. It is absolutely worth the read! 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // An Interview with Edwidge Danticat

We're going deep in the archives for this interview with one of our favorite authors, Edwidge Danticat. If you're a fan of her novels, you'll love watching this conversation with Marlene Racine-Toussaint, the founder of the Multicultural Women's Press.

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Just For the Holidays!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // All My Relations with Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene

We're so excited about this podcast! Hosted by visual storyteller Matika (Swinomish and Tulalip) and writer and activist Adrienne (Cherokee Nation), this program explores what it means to be a Native person in our world today.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Dirty Kitchen by Jill Damatac

Through recipes, Damatac tells the story of her family and their journey to America, and the history of Filipinos and their shared experience of colonialism and fragmentation. We can't recommend enough taking a few minutes to read this gorgeous essay!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Talé by Salif Keita

Salif Keita's 20th album is JUST full of surprises. Known for his incredibly soulful voice, Keita worked with producer Philipe Cohen Solal (of the Paris-based Gotan project) to create this experimental mix. Collaborations range from Bobby McFerrin's scat vocals to a rap infusion by Roots Manuva. While there's not a ton of cohesion, each song is a special work in it's own right.  

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Thankful for YOU!

We have so much to be thankful for this year, and despite all the unexpected turns, we're grateful to have you, our community, our guiding beacon. We've had to say goodbye (for now) to some incredible women as we've downsized our retail teams, and we're deeply grateful to the women who have stayed on, keeping our doors open, our stores warm and welcoming, our packages moving and all of us connected to one another. We're thankful for each individual on our production team, from Stephen who handles the prints hot off the press in Thika, to Josephine who makes sure that each piece of fabric makes it from Dar, to Edwinah who makes sure that each flawlessly folded dress arrives in NYC in perfect condition. Finally, we're thankful for you -- our customers, our community, the reason we get to do the work we do, our inspiration and our support. While we may not be celebrating the holidays as we always have, we hope that this year will be an opportunity to find joy in change, warmth in relationships new, old, close and distant, and always, always gratitude for each other.

WHAT WE'RE THANKFUL FOR // Great reads by Nicole Dennis-Benn

One of our all-time favorite authors and an inspiring member of our Zuri sisterhood, Nicole Dennis-Benn's novels Patsy and Here Comes the Sun remain staples on my bookshelf that I frequently lend out to friends and revisit often in my memory. Powerful stories about women navigating across cultures, these novels will transport you.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // CYMANDE

Pronounced sah-mahn-day, Cymande was a funk group based in the UK with members from several Caribbean nations that performed in the early 1970's. The band name derives from a calypso word for "dove", which symbolizes peace and love. Fun fact: for those of you who remember the song "The Score" by The Fugees, you'll immediately recognize sampling from track 6 on this album, aptly called "Dove".

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