Yesterday was International Women's Day, and while we like to think that we celebrate women everyday here at Zuri, we wanted to take some time to highlight a few of the incredible women in our ecosystem whose contributions are at the core of all we do!
A member of the Navaho nation, Danielle Geller unpacks the story of her mother's life and eventual death to alcohol withdrawal, in this extremely intimate memoir. Exploring loss and inheritance, beauty and balance, Danielle Geller pays homage to our pasts, traditions, and heritage, to the families we are given and the families we choose.
Madison McFerrin, the daughter of one our all time favorite scat masters, Bobby McFerrin, is a musical force in her own right. Described by Pitchfork as "making a cappella cool again", I think you'll LOVE the rich and smooth sound on her recent 2019 album, You + I.
We've been having SO MUCH FUN working with several very talented textile designers over the last few months to develop designs we think you'll really fall for. Each one of these beauties will be part of our 100% Made in Kenya textile line, using cotton that is grown, spun, woven, and printed all right here in Kenya. Production this localized is both rare and special, as it allows us to tell our story from beginning to end. What we especially love about these fabrics is the intimacy we have with the origin of the designs, and the fact that the women who created them will be able to share the inspiration and significance of each directly with you! This year you'll be meeting artists Shadé Akanbi, Angela Muritu, Jo Kalute, Phathu Nembilwi, and Lulu Kitololo. We can't wait for you to see their final work, and hear their thoughts about these functional, wearable works of art!
And now, a bit about the PROCESS!
VOTE in Zuri // GEORGIA!
Today is Runoff Election Day in Georgia for two Senate seats that will determine the scope of Congress's work over the next four years so it couldn't be a more important day to VOTE! If you are a Georgia voter, follow these steps for a 10% off code on any upcoming order!
1) Throw on your favorite Zuri. 2) VOTE! 3) Take a selfie of yourself at the polls, with your ballot or with an "I VOTED" sticker on your dress. 4) Post the pic on Instagram + tag @zurikenya, send us a DM or email us a pic! 5) Check your Instagram DMs or email for a code for 10% off any purchase!
A creative and a photojournalist living in Accra, Ghana, Francis Kokoroko takes the most whimsical and beautiful pictures, with an eye toward documenting the ever-evolving cultures and everyday life of people on the African continent. An intimate and relatable glimpse into the lives of others, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Lianne La Havas deserves all the accolades she's been getting lately. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Greek father, her sound is a mostly acoustic hybrid of funk and soul, inspired by Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill. (Oh, and did I mention that she performed a fabulous Tiny Desk Concert for NPR?)
If you haven't read Jacqueline Woodson's recent novel, Red at the Bone, we can't recommend it enough! Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of families, and in the life of the new child. This story is told so beautifully, her writing has been compared to the legendary Toni Morrison; we couldn't agree more.
I recently heard WNYC podcast journalist Ngofeen Mputubwele interviewed by Gregory Warner in his Rough Translation episode, "We Don't Say That". As one of the only Congolese families within a hundred miles of his childhood home in West Tennessee, Mputubwele found that storytelling was a way for him to relate to the world around him, and to help others do the same. Listen to his portraits told through story on The Power is Out.
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 email@example.com. (Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Edwidge Danticat, Monique Truong, Tracy K. Smith and Zadie Smith.)
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!
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!
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.
We're super excited about our new 100% made in Kenya textiles, and we thought that we'd share a bit more with you about how the fabrics are made!
The cotton that we're using is sourced from smallholder farmers in Western Kenya. It is ginned in a factory in Makueni County in south western Kenya, and then it's sent to the factory we're partnered with for spinning and weaving!
The Wisteria, Tidal and Mosaic prints were designed by Stephen and his team. Here you can see him standing with the rolls, which are each etched with a different component layer of the design. As the fabric is passed through the rolls, it gets a different part of the design and color from each roll. Below you can see elements from the Mosaic and Tidal rolls.
The final step in the printing process is heat! The fabric goes through a high temperature press to make sure that the colors are completely set so that when you wash it, the colors don't run!
The production process is a constant marvel, and every step is a learning process for us. Thanks for joining us on this journey!
You may know comedian Phoebe Robinson from her incredible podcast and TV show 2 Dope Queens and her books and essays, and we are so excited that she's back on the airwaves with a new podcast, Black Frasier. We can't encourage enough listening to her conversation with Michelle Obama on why it's so important to VOTE!
Whether you're feeling energized or overwhelmed by election season, in addition to voting, we encourage you to take action! We're excited about The Frontline, an organization sponsored by the Working Families Organization, the Working Families Party, and the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, which is training individuals on how to become Election Defenders, teaching how to spot voter suppression, and what to do about it.
Self dubbed as East African retro-pop, the borderless sound of Brooklyn-based Sudanese singer Alsarah and the Nubatones is both rich and soulful. Inspired by Nubian "songs of return", you'll love the feeling of movement this album brings.
A little more than three years ago, Ashleigh and I were blasting down Mombasa Road, driving back from our first visit to our ethical manufacturing partner in southern Kenya and it was around hour four (of an unexpected 10!) back to Nairobi that I remember looking out the window as 18-wheelers flew by (Ashleigh is a VERY good driver), musing about how amazing it would be if someday, we got big enough that instead of buying prints in the market, we could actually produce our own. We could give a platform to emerging designers, and we could create textiles that were original, whose origins we could trace completely, and whose stories would encompass our contemporary world. As is wont to happen on long delirious drives, we set the conversation aside as a road trip pipe-dream, and went back to more practical conversations like what we should eat for our next snack break, but this fantasy stayed with us.
Now, three plus years and many dresses later, we couldn't be prouder or more excited that this dream is becoming reality and that it's even better than what we imagined thanks to your support! Not only do we get to collaborate with emerging designers and share their talent with you, we have partnered with a textile manufacturer in Nairobi that sources cotton grown in western Kenya giving us not only total traceability, but a 100% KENYAN supply chain. This means that from seed, to fabric, to dress, our new prints will be 100% Kenyan from farm to shop.
We couldn't do this without your support and we are so grateful to be a part of this community that has encouraged us and enabled us to keep growing and finding ways to continually do better.
And so a new journey begins! Meet our newest prints, 100% made in Kenya! Twende!
For the month of September we committed to donating proceeds from the sales of our masks to theVoter Participation Center. As we near Nov 3rd, it is evermore important to register potential voters and get them to the polls so that on Election Day, ALL our voices are heard and counted. We're really proud that thanks to your purchases, we were able to donate $3,700 in September, which combined with our contribution from mask sales in August totals $8,700 for the Voter Participation Center!
This month, we'll be donating our mask proceeds to theNAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fundto support their work fighting for racial justice and in litigating voting rights and protecting the election. With voter suppression in full force across the country, we all have to do what we can to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote does vote, and that every vote gets counted.
Early voting has started in many states and for those who are mailing in ballots, this story illustrates the importance of make sure that every vote gets counted! Analysis of data from the 2018 midterms in North Carolina shows that ballots mailed by Black voters were more than twice as likely as those sent in by white voters to be rejected, and this pattern seems to be holding true already in 2020 and to varying degrees across the country.
We recommend reading throughthis voting guidefor information on how to make sure that your vote gets counted!
We love this podcast by writer and activist Baratunde Thurston! In each episode he discusses aspects of what it means to be a citizen with activists and academics and provides tangible actions that listeners can take to become better, more participatory citizens.
Chiwoniso was a Zimbabwean singer and songwriter, whose use of the Mbira is at once warm, beautiful and familiar in a totally original way. Caveat: this song will make you feel all kinds of things the first time you hear it, and it's recommended *(by me, who cries easily) that you listen to it when you're ready to let things flow!