Zuri, a new New York City and Nairobi based fashion label has launched with a plan to simplify wardrobes. The label specialises in ‘Just One Dress’, a versatile shaped garment that can be worn as a dress, jacket, tunic or skirt by people of all ages and body types.
The co-founders, Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Miller, collaborate directly with artisan groups in Dakar and Accra to design and source textiles, as well as women-owned wax print vendors in Tanzania and dressmakers in Kenya. We spoke to Sandra and Ashleigh about their plans for Zuri.
Why One Dress?
We wanted to create something that would simplify women’s wardrobes. We figured it should save time AND space. By having the same dress in a few prints, you wouldn’t really have to think about putting an outfit together, and if you chose to make it your uniform, you wouldn’t need many other clothes. We also designed it so that if you did want “just one”, you could wear it several different ways and it would look like a new outfit each time.
Can you talk about the sustainability of your business model?
We feel that true sustainability is best achieved by producing something that people truly love and want, which in turn supports the manufacturing industry in Kenya and creates opportunities for formal employment. We work with an ethical manufacturer, and the people who work on our clothes all have full-time, formal employment. Formal employment means that our team can plan their futures and live with stability.
Co-founders Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Miller.
What is your connection to Nairobi?
Sandra: I initially moved to Nairobi mostly for fun! I didn't have a job, but a close friend was living there and I decided to go check it out. I found a job helping to launch a solar company, then left to start my own bakery, which I ran for three years. Ashleigh was ready for a life change and so moved to Nairobi with her family. She'd been a rug dealer before in New York and continued to sell rugs when she moved to Kenya.
At a glance, none of our previous experience would suggest a future in clothing, but we both love clothes and beautiful textiles and creating things (plus neither of us handle authority well, so actually, it makes a lot of sense that we would do best working for ourselves)!
Visit www.shopzuri.com for more information.