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Weekly Newsletter June 30, 2020

Hand-dyed in Accra and Dakar

We're so thrilled to share with you two new prints, one a hand-dyed batik made in Ghana by Edwina and her team, and the other a sitiba (stitch-resist) hand-stitched and dyed in Senegal by Cheikhouna and his family. It's a privilege to work with such skilled and talented artisans, and we hope that you'll love these textiles as much as we do!

Accra, Ghana

Wax prints as we know them today originated from the batik tradition, and we're thrilled to be able to work with this collective (hi Oparebea!) to produce hand-blocked batiks in Accra. Working with locally grown cotton, melted wax is applied to fabric, which is then dyed, and then the wax is removed leaving the design! Learn more about the process here.

 

Dakar, Senegal

Sitiba is a technique where the fabric is stitched into a design of tight folds and then dyed. The stitches act as a "resist" so that when they're taken out, the area inside the folds retains the original color of the fabric and the rest is dyed. Cheikhouna is one of the only remaining master dyers practicing this technique in Dakar, and we are privileged to be able to produce textiles with him!

 

 

NYC + SF // Stores re-opening!

We've missed you, and we're really excited to welcome you back to our shops!

We will be re-opening 363 Bleecker on Wednesday, July 1, and our opening hours will be Wed-Sun, from 11-5pm.

We'll be opening 1902B Fillmore on Friday, July 3, and our hours will be Fri-Sun, from 11-5pm. 

(Both stores will be closed on July 4!)

As you know, our stores are cozy places, so we will be limiting the number of people to two at a time inside. We ask that you please wear a mask and maintain social distance!

We are also taking private shopping appointments, so please feel free to reach out (heyzuri@shopzuri.com) to schedule a time at either location.

These are uncharted waters for us and we're taking each day as it comes.  We are taking all necessary precautions to protect both our team and you with routine cleaning and health checks, and we will be responsive to updates in state and city protocols. We can't wait to see you soon (from a safe distance of 6 ft)!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Sona Jobarteh

Two words: WOW + WOW.  Sona Jobarteh's music will awaken something in you that you haven't accessed in at least 106 days, and you will truly enjoy it.  A vocalist and instrumentalist from The Gambia, she is the the first professional female kora player to come out of one of the five main West African Griot families, and her music is just SO beautiful.  Sit near a window, put in your headphones, and let go.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Floodlines by Vann R. Newkirk II

Though it's been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina brought devastation to New Orleans, we're still learning from its lessons today. Host Vann Newkirk brings us the stories of people who lived through the flood, revealing what really happened and how much we misunderstood.

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

From the first time I read Samantha Irby's essay collection, "We Are Never Meeting in Real Life," and couldn't move from the couch until I finished it, I was hooked. Non-stop giggling funny, unflinchingly raw, her newest essay collection documenting a more settled life at forty after growing up struggling with chronic illness and the loss of parents in her teens doesn't disappoint.

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Weekly Newsletter May 26, 2020

A Perfect Nairobi Day

Like many of you, we're dreaming of our visiting favorite haunts, so let's take a little journey through our imagination :)

Our first stop would be at Wasp and Sprout for a lazy brunch starting with their yummy masala chai. We'd run upstairs after ordering to browse Angela's latest home goods and shop local brands like Provisions Kenya. With a green apple juice to-go, we'd hit the road for our next stop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mombasa House is where it all began for us! This fabric market tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming building on River Road in downtown Nairobi is where we bought fabric for the first Zuris, and continues to feel like a home base. We'd pop in to chat with Justine, Josephine, and the rest of the ladies, and see what's new!

 

 

 

 

After a quick bite at Ranalo's for some fried fish fresh from Lake Victoria, we'd head to the Kuona Collective to visit Dennis (above), Shak (left) and the other artists. The space is green and peaceful, and it's easy to while away the hours here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We'd finish the day with sundowners and dinner at the Alchemist. The Alchemist is a hub for music, art and food; and by far one of our favorite spots on "campus" is the savory and very craveable Mama Rocks!  Started by sisters Samantha and Natalie, Mama Rocks makes irresistible burgers (we'd personally recommend the Mango Masai Mama or Fela Supa Fly, but really you can't go wrong). There isn't a better way to end the day than to kick back with a hot Dawa cocktail and Nairobi's newest hits!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Africa Express Presents Terry Riley's In C Mali

In 1964, Terry Riley composed this minimalist composition with no prescribed instruments and 53 phrases, each of which may be played an arbitrary number of times and if the musicians like, at the same time. Because the phrase lengths are also at the discretion of the musicians, the piece can last between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. This recording by the experimental collective, Africa Express, is one of my favorite ever performances of this composition.  Enjoy!!

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Africa Express Presents: Terry Riley's In C Mali, A Documentary

Africa Express has been one of the most groundbreaking musical forces for the last 15 years. Bringing together musicians of different ages, cultures, and genres, this performance of Terry Riley's minimalist composition "In C" is a truly unique, on-the-spot musical moment, which will never be done the same twice.  This video, set to the piece, offers a behind the scenes tour of the people and places that inspired the performance, and is extremely peaceful to watch.  Take 40 minutes, put on your headphones, and let yourself be transported. To Mali. In C.

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Weekly Newsletter May 12, 2020

Playing with Pattern!

It all started with a "what would happen if..." and a "I wonder if I could..." and then before we knew it, we had three dresses on at once and it was MARVELOUS. So if you're wondering about layers and mixing and matching, here are some tips from our pattern layering pros:

WHAT WE'RE COOKING // The Bomb Fishcakes by Jasmine Macharia

We love a good fishcake, and we're huge fans of Nairobi's own celebrity chef, Jasmine Macharia. These butternut-based goodies are baked, not fried, and designed to be made and enjoyed at home! Perfect for dinner or lunch with a crunchy salad or oven fries! Fun fact: she's making a special cameo on our website--looking good, Jaz!!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Sampa the Great

Born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, Sampa's music is a totally original sound, bridging hip-hop with traditional southern African musical influences. This album "Birds and the Bee9" is my favorite of hers--super smooth, adding energy to the room while still allowing for space and conversation.  Try playing this album the next time you're making dinner; you will not want to turn it off!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // STILL PROCESSING by Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris

Hosts Jenna and Wesley are culture writers at the New York Times, and in this podcast, they discuss everything from Halle Berry's "Catwoman" to how human relationships have evolved in our new social distanced internet culture. We especially recommend their recent episode, "How to Learn From a Plague," where they talk about activism during the AIDs epidemic and how it applies today.

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Weekly Newsletter May 4, 2020

Celebrating Moms Everywhere!

We love how intergenerational our dresses have become, and it's so inspiring to see families represented in the Zuri sisterhood (we have four generations of one family in Zuri in the photos above - clockwise from the top left, Inja, Nia, Blanche, Besia, Robin, Robin, Ginger, Julie, Kim, Jamie, DeeDee, James)! This Mother's Day, while we may not be able to spend time in person with our mothers, we encourage you to take some time and reach out to the women in your lives, mothers in the broadest sense, and say thank you!

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Author Isabel Wilkerson was the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and the first African American to win for individual reporting. In her debut book, Wilkerson maps the epic journey of six million people who left the South and changed America through the stories of three remarkable individuals. With powerful specificity and sweeping breadth, this is essential reading for understanding the history of this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // NATAL by Martina Abrahams Ilunga and Gabrielle Horton

NATAL is a podcast about having a baby while black in the US. Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white mothers, and 60% of those deaths are preventable. In the first episode, host Gabrielle Horton talks with a new mother about her ending up in the emergency room two weeks after giving birth, alone and ignored, fighting for her life.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Amara Touré & L'Orchestra Massako

Amara Touré, a legendary Guinean singer and percussionist, rose to fame in Dakar in the 1950's and 60's. Originally a member of the Star Band de Dakar, he was part of the Afro-Cuban movement that defined the mid-century music scene in Senegal.  This album is one of my all-time favorites; energizing, rhythmic, and soulful, it will fill your room (and your mind) with joy.

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Weekly Newsletter Apr 28, 2020

Bits & Bobs & Odds & Ends

Those of you who have stopped in our stores know that we have lots of fun accessories made by different cooperatives that we work with across Kenya. We've finally added most of them on our site (we'll be adding a few more through the week), so if your pup is in need of a pop of beaded brilliance, or you're in spring cleaning mode and want to brighten up your home with colorful organizers, we've got beautiful collars, handwoven baskets and lots more on the site now!

Meet the weavers! We work with this wonderful group of ladies in central Kenya to make our baskets. This tradition of weaving is passed down through generations and is mostly done by the elders. We're really proud of Victoria, Rebecca, and the entire team for producing such a special collection for us this past year.

 

 

Update from Kenya // 15,000 and counting!

Thanks to your support through donations and purchases, we've produced and donated 15,000 masks to Penda Health and Jacaranda Health. Penda has distributed masks in Nairobi to their staff at their 13 medical centers and support office, their operational partners including drivers who transport their medical staff, community partners including chiefs and police stations, and to their community members. (Hello to Beatrice, Grace and Mr. Kamau in the photos above!) Jacaranda has distributed the masks in their maternity hospital and to their partner clinics outside of Nairobi.

We are continuing to produce masks that we will donate to these two organizations, and if you would like to contribute, send us an email!

Let's sew together! // Homemade how-to

Join us in making masks! Inja and Dee Dee from our SF team have created wonderful tutorials on how to make a mask at home by hand or with a sewing machine! As always, share your pics with us! We love this photo from Noorallah of the masks she made for herself and her family!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw

In this podcast, Kimberlé Crenshaw discusses issues through an intersectional lens, investigating how race, gender and class overlap during her conversations with leading thinkers. We'd particularly recommend listening to episode 6 where she traces the relationship between slavery and the continued systemic oppression of black women today.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Chiwoniso

Chiwoniso was a beautiful singer, but what really stands out about her music is her use of the mbira (an african thumb piano that, until the late 60's, was played exclusively by men.) This album is a classic example of her work--crisp, pure and electrifying. 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Jende and Neni recently immigrated to the US from Cameroon, and they're struggling to make ends meet when Jende gets an opportunity that transforms their lives working for a wealthy family. The financial crisis hits and this new life is thrown into flux as we see varying perspectives and reactions from Jende and Neni and their employers to their world on the edge of financial ruin. Beautifully written and deeply felt, Mbue's depiction of inequality in America is relevant still today.
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