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Weekly Newsletter June 2, 2020

We've been struggling the last week with overwhelming rage, frustration and grief but just recognizing these feelings and the injustices that cause them is not enough -- we must take action. We are actively educating ourselves, reading, listening, engaging, speaking out and standing up against the white supremacy and systemic racism that this country has perpetuated since its founding, and we hope that you will join us. We've been sharing resources on social media that we have found helpful or have been recommended by others, we have more below (both new and from past newsletters), and we will continue to share.

Thanks to your support over the last two weeks, we have donated $10,000 to GiveDirectly's Kenya Covid-19 Fund, and starting this week, we will be donating all profits from the sales of our masks to the Equal Justice Initiative which is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in our society.

We really want to highlight the power of this community, OUR community -- thanks to your support, we have donated a total of 18,000 masks to vulnerable Kenyans, and now $10,000 that will support 334 people and help them through this pandemic in Nairobi, not to mention the jobs you've enabled us to continue to support through the production of these masks. We are strong and we are powerful when we come together.

Black Lives Matter. We cannot be silent, we must act. Join us.

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs

From legendary activist Grace Lee Boggs, this manifesto lays out her vision for a more compassionate, humanistic future and what we can do to bring it into our present. The world she envisions feels particularly prescient today as are reminded of the fragility and inequality in our social, political and economic systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers

This conversation between feminist scholar Barbara Smith, activist Reina Gossett and activist and organizer Charlene Carruthers is an inspiring primer about Black Feminism and how it has been and continues to be foundational to social justice movements today.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Code Switch

This podcast doesn't hesitate to talk about race. The hosts, journalists of color, take on all parts of modern life, from pop culture, to politics, to the economy and history, diving into how race plays a role in every aspect of all of our lives.

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Weekly Newsletter May 19, 2020

We've got you covered!

Thanks to the feedback and encouragement from many of you, after producing and donating masks in Kenya over the past few weeks, we are now producing non-medical masks that are available for sale in the US and in Europe! We will be donating all of the proceeds to GiveDirectly's* Kenya Covid-19 Fund, which is sending digital cash transfers directly to low-income families in Kibera and Mathare in Nairobi. The economic impact of the pandemic is being felt around the world, and we believe strongly in the dignity and value of cash transfers to allow people to take care of themselves and their communities.

The masks are made with 100% cotton kitenge and have two layers with contrasting prints on either side. Each mask has a pocket in the middle where you can insert a filter and elastic ear-straps for an easy and secure fit. We've made them in two sizes, so hopefully they can fit you, your family and friends!

Each mask is handmade and unique, so the prints will vary from what's pictured!

Given the obvious nature of these masks, all sales are final!

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Dialectic by Zadie Smith

Is that Zadie Smith, one of our favorite authors of all time, in a Zuri? Why yes, yes it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She needs no introduction, really, all we can say is read her work! From her first short story collection, Grand Union, The Dialectic is incisive and quick, and you'll wish to keep reading!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Bisa Butler, In the Artist’s Studio

Hosted by the Museum of the African Diaspora, this conversation with artist Bisa Butler about her work and her inspirations is a fascinating must watch!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Black Chick Lit

This podcast talks books by and about black women, and we especially recommend this episode from a few years ago where they discuss Swing Time by Zadie Smith. With humor and deep insight, hosts Dani and Mollie share books they love and we assure you, you'll love them, too!

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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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