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Weekly Newsletter July 28, 2020

Market Days

We usually travel monthly to the markets to source fabric for our clothing, and throughout the month are in touch with vendors to see what's new (in the market and in their lives!). While we aren't able to go to the markets now, we're revisiting photos from a recent trip to Dar es Salaam, and some of the fabrics may look familiar!

Meet Emmy! She always has the most wonderful prints, especially in the crackle batik style, and we're so excited to share Verdant and Cornucopia with you, both sourced from her!

 

 

 

Lunch is a pretty big deal for us in life and in work, and it's hard to express in words the feeling of relief and excitement when we sit down to a heaping plate of rice, veggies, fried tilapia and a bowl of beans!

The fabric section of the market is a mere fraction of the entire, much larger market, and it's always fun to wander through the other areas, especially where produce is being sold, to see what's in season and new! How amazing do these little peaches, tree tomatoes and passion fruits look?

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Les Filles de Illighadad

 

These filles ROCK!  Based in Niger, the lead vocalist and performer, Fatou Seidi Ghali, is one of the only female Tuareg guitarists in the region, and is completely self-taught. They have a beautifully rich sound and I promise you will keep this album cycling through your "favorites" for years to come.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

 

 

 

This multi-generational epic weaves together four generations of families whose lives have sprouted from the fertile Zambezi delta. Serpell's evocative storytelling amplifies reality and gives us a lesson in history and a deep exploration of relationships and family.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Zenele Muholi at the Seattle Art Museum 

South African Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer, and in this video, they talk about their work and while it's not a substitute for seeing their powerful, moving work in person, it's pretty close!

 

 

 

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Weekly Newsletter July 21, 2020

Customer spotlight: artists in Zuri!

Many of you in our Zuri community are artists, and we wanted to spotlight a few of you today who have included us IN your work! We've said it before and we won't stop saying it, we are continually inspired by this community and grateful to be in such talented company!

Kira Nam Greene continues to explore and expand her interests in the sociopolitical arena of female identity and sexuality. This painting was in her recent show, “Women in Possession of Good Fortune,” referring to the opening lines of Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice” and alludes to both the persistence of sexist assumptions and the achievements made by women from different races, ages and sexual orientations. The combination of representational fidelity and non-traditional geometries in Greene’s paintings celebrates the imagination’s role in creating a plural and malleable reality.

California based artist Chitra Gopalakrishnan is a graphic designer and painter, and we were so excited to see this piece, featuring Trivial Pursuit!

 

 

 

Hilary Puxley is a London-based portrait painter and we are in love with her self-portrait in Backgammon Jammin'! She has most recently been a part of a project honoring health workers and just completed a portrait of a nurse from the NHS.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business

We're huge fans of artist Betye Saar, and this documentary short takes us through her work in her words. From her early work to yet uncreated pieces, Betye walks the viewer through her studio, her past and her future.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Pod Save the People with DeRay Mckesson

 

Hosted by activist and organizer DeRay Mckesson, this podcast covers the news and digs into politics and social justice. He specifically highlights issues that impact people of color and brings in experts, including Soledad O'Brien, who talks about racism in the media in the June 30th episode.

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // ASK A SANE PERSON: JIA TOLENTINO ON PRACTICING THE DISCIPLINE OF HOPE

Staff writer at the New Yorker and author of the recent book of essays, Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino distills culture today with incisive clarity. This short interview with her is reflective and energizing, and we recommend a quick read!

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Newsletter July 14, 2020

Textile spotlight: Kikoys!

We love kikoys -- these 100% cotton fabrics are soft, durable and add a pop of color to any outfit any time of year. Worn all over Kenya and Tanzania, these textiles are most commonly seen along the coast, where men, women and children can be seen sporting them as sarong-like wraps, shawls to keep off the coastal sun, headwraps, and even baby carriers!

Though most warm coastal communities around the world have a version of the kikoy, it's thought that they first originated along the Swahili coast, brought by Arab traders centuries ago. Fishermen adopted them as a convenient garment, comfortable, affordable and quick to dry! 

Characterized by a single solid color with striped bands and fringed ends, kikoys can be found in a variety of palettes from a simple black and grey to bright reds and oranges. 

How do you like to wear your kikoy?

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Camayenne Sofa "A Grands Pas"

This album, originally released in 1976, is one of our favorites from the prolific Guinean band Camayenne Sofa, which was popular in the mid 1970's but stopped recording in the late 90's.  A rhythmic and soulful sound, throw it on the next time you go for a walk--you'll see your neighborhood with fresh eyes and a happy heart!

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

If you haven't read this classic, now's the time! And if you have, it might be time to pick it up again. In our current moment when we are re-examining our history and biases and thinking about a better future, this novel provides a deeply felt reminder of the realities of slavery and how recent it was in our shared experience as a country.

 


 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Point of Origin with Stephen Satterfield

 

If you love food and learning about it as much as we do, this podcast was made for you! Host Stephen Satterfield takes us on a journey around the world to explore where our food comes from. Whether it's crossing oceans with the sea-faring coconut or talking about what a decolonized diet looks like, this podcast is the perfect listen for traveling and eating vicariously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 June 23, 2020

Textile Spotlight: Kanga

The first time I visited Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city in the heart of the Swahili coast, I remember seeing women all over the Old Town wearing a textile that I'd never seen before with a decorated border and Kiswahili phrase underlying a large central design. Some wore them as skirts, others headwraps, and still others had cut and sewn them into shirts and dresses. I soon learned that this textile is deeply ingrained in Swahili culture, and quickly took delight in the sayings that are central anchors to each fabric. 

The origin of the kanga, sometimes called leso, is contested, but most likely the fabric derived from kerchief squares, called lencos, brought by Portuguese traders from India and the Middle East as early as the 16th century. They are always printed and sold in pairs, two identical 1 1/2 meter rectangles generally divided and worn around as a head covering or shawl and around the waist. The motifs take inspiration from the wide ranging cultural influences that have converged over a millennium along the Swahili coast, from the Persian boteh to Rajasthani bandhani to the Bantu cashew nut.

Today, kangas are produced across East Africa, including by Thika Cloth Mills in Nairobi. While the sayings were only added in the early 20th century, they are now are central to the textile. It's always fun to see who is wearing what, and why they chose it (or received it!). Sometimes the messages are political or commemorative, printed specifically for an event or organization, but often they're reflective of everyday life. Some of us can probably relate to "I won’t eat in the darkness for fear of my neighbor (I do what I want!)" and all of us can relate to, "There is no one like mom."

Do you have a favorite kanga saying? Let us know!

GIVING UPDATE // Equal Justice Initiative

We are so proud to share that thanks to your support, we've raised $6,500 so far that we have donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. We believe deeply in the work that EJI is doing to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenge racial and economic injustice, and protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society and we are grateful that together, we can make a difference!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // 1619 by Nikole Hannah-Jones

I rarely listen to a whole podcast from start to finish in one go, but once I started 1619, I couldn't stop listening. Hosted by reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, this podcast examines the impact of slavery on every aspect of American society from the very roots of the economy and American capitalism, to the development of the healthcare system, to land ownership and agriculture. Informative, illuminating and engaging, this podcast is essential listening.

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This essay doesn't need much introduction, other than that it is essential reading by one of America's leading thinkers today. "To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy, to pretend that the problems of a dual society are the same as the problems of unregulated capitalism, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying...

What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history."

WHAT WE'RE READING // for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange

I've been missing the experience of theater and live performance, and this masterpiece while truly all-encompassing performed, takes on a whole different power and resonance when read. Glorious in its beauty of language and deeply felt in experience, reading this choreopoem will feel vital in this moment.

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