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textiles


How it's 100% Made in Kenya

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 WisteriaTidal 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!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Black Frasier by Phoebe Robinson

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!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE DOING // Training to be Election Defenders

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.

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Alsarah and the Nubatones

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.

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100% Made in Kenya

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!

GIVING UPDATE // Voter Participation Center

For the month of September we committed to donating proceeds from the sales of our masks to the Voter 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 the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to 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.

WHAT WE'RE READING // In North Carolina, Black Voters’ Mail-In Ballots Much More Likely to Be Rejected Than Those From Any Other Race

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 through this voting guide for information on how to make sure that your vote gets counted!

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // How to Citizen with Baratunde

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.

 

 

 

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // Chiwoniso

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!

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NEW BATIKS ARE HERE! 💓// (So is Our Fall Playlist!) 🎵

Batiks are BACK!

They're finally here! We're so excited to present our latest collection of hand-dyed batiks from Edwina and her collective in Accra, Ghana. We started working on these at the beginning of the year, and after pausing for a few months and reconfiguring for increased safety measures, Edwina and her team resumed work in mid-summer and we couldn't be more excited to finally share these beautiful textiles with you!

Meet Sarah! She was the main dyer for the Effervescence print, and we thought we'd share a bit of her process! To start, she dyes plain white cotton fabric pink, which will be the base color for the design. She then applies the design with melted wax, and after it dries, it goes into a red dye bath for the second color. Finally, the fabric is soaked in hot water to melt the wax and it's taken outside to dry in the breezy sunshine!

 

 

WHAT WE'RE READING // Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream by Latria Graham

With the pandemic leaving many of us indoors dreaming of the outdoors, this essay by Latria Graham is a reminder of the privilege of experiencing nature and its beauty without fear or risk. Composed as a letter to Black women who have reached out to her wanting advice on navigating the risks of being Black in the outdoors, she writes about her own experiences balancing a sobering reality and hope, "But there is one thing I can continue to do: let you know that you are not alone in doing this big, monumental thing."

WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO // ZURI FALL PLAYLIST

Hark! We made a new playlist! We've put together a fabulous collection of songs by contemporary female artists we love, with beats that are strong, rhythmic and smooth. Throw it on one Sunday afternoon (or even tonight while making dinner)! We hope you'll love what you hear.

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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 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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