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Weekly Newsletter Jan 21, 2020

Hello from Nairobi!

We're so happy to be back in Nairobi all together, and there was no better welcome than to go straight from the airport to Wasp and Sprout for a photoshoot and to see Ashleigh, Natacha, Nina and Angela looking radiant as ever in our dresses!

Angela, who you are all familiar with in photos (she's on the far right in the photo above), is a co-owner of Wasp and Sprout, a lovely cafe and shop located in the western part of Nairobi, and also a home goods designer and curator! We love spending time here, and would highly recommend a stop if you're in town!

 

 

 

 

 

No visit to Nairobi is complete without a stop at Kuona Artists Collective. Artists work and show out of converted shipping containers scattered across the property, and this is where one of our favorite artists, Dennis Muraguri has his studio! It's an incredibly inspiring place to wander and learn!

 

 

 

 

 

We always make sure to stop in and say hi to Flo and her team, who made our very first dress and continue to work with us for prototyping! Say hello to Roy, who helped to cut and stitch our first dress! Fun fact, we got to know Flo because her workshop was across the hall from my bakery!

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // JANUARY PLAYLIST

Here's a little treat to warm up those long January nights! A selection of some of our favorite tunes from Mali and beyond, it's perfect for an evening by the fire or a cozy Sunday afternoon, wherever in the world you may be!

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Weekly Newsletter Dec 2, 2019

Made in Ghana!

We met Edwina and her group of batik dyers two years ago in Accra and from the moment we saw their work, we decided to make it a priority to produce fabrics with their collective. As a small business, we experience first-hand the importance of commitment and reliability when working with all levels of our supply chain, and it's paramount that we uphold the same commitments to those who depend on us! Two years later, we've produced twenty unique textiles together, totaling over ten thousand meters, each hand-printed on cotton sourced in Ghana. We're so proud to be able to continue to support this traditional textile production process and work with this wonderful group of women!

The process starts with cutting a design into a block that can be used to apply wax onto the fabric. You can see above Sarah stamping the design square by square!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The printed fabrics then go into a dye bath where they can stay anywhere from a few hours to a day! Here Vivian is washing the fabric before hanging it out to dry. For designs like Raincheck with multiple colors, the fabric is dyed, then dried, then printed and dyed again!

 

 

  

SF Event! // Zuri Pages Reading

WHAT WE'RE READING // Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

As you may already know, we're obsessed with Nicole Dennis-Benn! We recommended her first novel, Here Comes the Sun, a few months ago, and when her newest work came out, expectations were high! As hoped, expectations were exceeded and I seriously cannot stop thinking about this book. With grace and care, Dennis-Benn gives us the story of Patsy, a woman born in Jamaica but whose dreams lie in America. We follow Patsy as she leaves her daughter and embarks on a new, hopefully better life. Gripping, heart-breaking, and joyous all at once, you'll soon also be obsessed with this incredible author, too!

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Weekly Newsletter Oct 22, 2019

From Dakar with <3

Way back in April you may remember that we spent some time in Dakar with Cheikhouna, a master dyer, and his family to develop hand-dyed textiles using traditional stitch resist and wax resist techniques. We couldn't be prouder to share with you the incredible work of this team! 

Stitch-resist dyeing

For our Clean Slate and Cascade prints, Cheikhouna used a stitch resist technique called sitiba, where the design is hand-stitched into the fabric before dyeing. As you can guess, this is a super time-consuming practice, but the results are stunning!

For this particular print, the stitching is especially complex because the fabric is sewn into a twisting column. Sitiba is rarely produced anymore not only because of the amount of time it takes, but because of the complexity of the technique. Cheihknouna is probably one of the last dyers in Dakar who practices this technique, and while he trains apprentices, he stitched every piece of fabric for our production himself.

Wax-resist dyeing

You may be familiar with this technique already, since this is also known as batik! We've used this technique for our hand-dyed prints in Ghana, as well! As a quick refresher -- hot wax is applied with a stamp to fabric, which is dipped in a dye bath, and then later heated to remove the wax.

You can see that this print has two colors, black and blue, which require two rounds of dyeing. First the wax is applied and the fabric is soaked with black dye, and then the wax is removed and the fabric is then soaked with blue dye, which fills in the spaces that the wax left!

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Étoile de Dakar

Youssou N'Dour is a LEGEND, and if you listen to this album, you'll know why. His music is blasting out of every taxi and Ndiaga Ndiaye (painted bus) on the streets of Dakar. Warning: spontaneous dancing may occur while listening to this album!

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Weekly Newsletter Sept 25, 2019

Market days

While we often share photos from the fabric market with you, the market is in fact much more than just fabric! Nestled in the heart of Dar es Salaam, this many-blocks-wide shopping bonanza is filled with just about everything that you can imagine!

As you can imagine, we were so excited to see this stunning woman who clearly loves this print as much as we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruits and veg, anyone? We always stock up on the local garlic as well as whatever is in season--this month, it's tamarind time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vendors often pre-peel oranges so they're easy to eat on the go! The market is filled with bicycles and carts topped with everything from citrus to jackfruit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // SEPTEMBER PLAYLIST: TANZANIAN BEATS

If you're curious what it's like strolling through the markets in Dar es Salaam, imagine the photos above + the aroma of freshly ground spices + THIS PLAYILIST.  These songs are blasting from every stall in the market--it adds a bounce to our step and colors every decision that we make.  ENJOY!

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Weekly Newsletter August 20, 2019

Checking in from Eastleigh!

While we do the majority of our fabric sourcing in Tanzania, every so often Ashleigh will check in with vendors in Eastleigh, on the east side of Nairobi, to see what's new!

Meet Mama Mdogo!

Originally from Tanzania, Mama Mdogo came to Kenya 4 years ago to start her shop, which she runs with her sister. In addition to being lovely to work with, she always has GREAT music playing. (When I bought the Constellation print, I remember Stonebwoy was on and when I bought the Main Squeeze print, Agustus Pablo was playing. What can I say, she really knows how to set a mood!)

 

 

 This is Lucy!

Also from Tanzania, Lucy has especially fabulous taste in prints. I always come see her if I am looking for something depictive or unusual! Just this week at her shop, I bought a folded paper elephant print from Nigeria--totally unexpected and whimsical!  Thank you for keeping it interesting, Lucy!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING // THE FAREWELL

What do you do when your beloved grandmother has a terminal illness and no one is allowed to tell her? This debut film by writer and director Lulu Wang is "based on an actual lie" and dives deep into the complications of multi-generational, cross cultural all-too-real immigrant life. While beautifully capturing the Chinese American immigrant experience, this film is more broadly a celebration of family and the distances we go for those we love.

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