To mark their completion of the Sewing Our Futures training program, this year we organized a fashion show on the 24th of August - the first of its kind! The young women showcased the products they made during the training period.
PJ Powers, a South African born, internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter, visited Kampala in April to film the music video for her new hit song "Home to Africa" with local artists Radio & Weasel. While she was in town, PJ stopped by the Mazuri Designs' workshop to have a few items of clothing made for her. We are super excited that she chose to wear our creations in her music video! See the photos below for behind-the-scenes images from the filming day and stay tuned for the official video!
While in Kampala, PJ also visited the projects of our sister organization, Girl Up Initiative Uganda, and made media appearances ahead of the GUIU Charity Concert that she will headline on June 30th, 2017 at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Funds raised at the GUIU Charity Concert will support Girl Up Initiative Uganda's mission to provide young women and girls with opportunities to succeed and thrive as leaders in their slum communities through holistic education and economic empowerment. Their work includes teaching empowerment, sexual health and reproductive rights, gender equity, confidence, and life skills to adolescent girls. Part of their programming also includes our Mazuri Designs seamstress training, so we are very excited about this upcoming event, which will no doubt be the talk of Kampala!
We invite you to join us at the GUIU Charity Concert on June 30th. Concert sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please contact Monica at 0782 059 599 or Saidi at 0776 739 006 if your company is interested in supporting Girl Up Initiative Uganda's mission through a sponsorship or booking of a VIP table.
And if you are looking for a trusted business to produce clothing that offers excellent quality products and great customer service, you are most welcome to visit our workshop. We custom design items for you, and can even re-create PJ's look if you please! If you are in Kampala, you can find more information here on how to get your very own Mazuri Designs creation!
March 2017 was a very busy month for our Kampala seamstresses! Lots of local orders, a donation that will allow Mazuri to grow, and a visitor from the United States who found us online!
Mazuri Designs is a full service seamstress workshop. You, as our guest, can come to get measured, share pictures or your thoughts of what you'd like made, choose from our inventory of fabrics (or bring your own), and receive a finished piece of clothing, or an accessory, sure to turn heads.
We just purchased the fabrics above from the market in Kampala, and have them in stock for purchase. If you like what you see, contact us today to make an appointment before they sell out.
Which design do you like best? Let us know in the comments below!
The majority of orders we receive at our Mazuri Designs workshop come from our local Kampala, Uganda community. One of Girl Up Uganda's team members, who does a wonderful job of providing updates on all the Mazuri achievements, challenges, and news that you read about here, attended a family wedding earlier this year, and ordered a dress from us to wear. Two others attending that same function also purchased custom-made dresses from us, so you know that they were looking good on the dance floor!
Mazuri Designs also received orders from high school clients who were preparing for their Prom parties. They were all very excited about the clothes we made for them and looked beautiful and confident in them. With Prom being an annual event, we hope to get repeat clients for this occasion. All of these orders were produced with close attention to detail, and our clients were happy with how our seamstresses took their wishes and turned them into well-made and well-fitting items. They were all thrilled to show off their Mazuri Designs fashions on this special day.
We also have a number of clients who drop-in to buy accessories from the workshop. Tourists who find our website, Facebook or Instagram pages pay us visits, as do officials visiting Girl Up Initiative Uganda and friends of our staff.
Our team is always busy finding new ways to reach out to new clients and offer our customers the best services possible.
If you live in, or are visiting Kampala, come say hello with a visit to our workshop. Or you can visit us virtually and purchase your own Mazuri Designs from our Etsy store.
Mazuri Designs is more than a sewing workshop that produces items for local customers in Kampala, and sells items to international customers on Etsy. We were established as part of the Sewing Our Futures program with Girl Up Initiative Uganda, which teaches young women vocational skills in sewing, tailoring and fashion design. The six-month program provides young unemployed women with the skills and confidence to become empowered women!
In 2016, four young women graduated from the program (two were hired to work at Mazuri Designs). For 2016, we had a competitive application process and we had to limit the number of trainees given the limited space in the workshop. We sought young women excited about the opportunity to learn a skill to improve their lives and who were willing to invest a small amount of money to purchase their own materials so that the training was viewed as an investment, not a hand-out. We are happy to announce that in 2017 Mazuri Designs and Girl Up Initiative Uganda enrolled seven new young women into the Sewing Our Futures program!
The young women seamstresses-in-training are learning quickly and doing a wonderful job! So far, they have learnt how to take measurements, how to cut the pattern paper, and sew straight and round skirts as well as fish-tail skirts.
Meet a few of the trainees!
The skill sets have come naturally to Anna, and she hasn't faced any challenges as of yet. The Mazuri head trainer has commented on both Anna's skill level and passion for her work, saying her performance is very promising.
Next up is Miriam! While language is a challenge for Miriam as she neither speaks a common local language, nor English very well, her will to succeed is exemplary. She is slowly catching up with the rest of the class by remaining focused on the tasks at hand.
Doreen is our third young women trainee. She is keeping up with the rest of the girls and shows love for what she is doing in the workshop. Her good attitude makes her a pleasure to be around.
We are very proud of Anna, Miriam, Doreen, and the other four seamstress trainees for their progress thus far and their dedication to learning sewing and tailoring skills. Our trainers remarked that this cohort of trainees arrive at class on time (which is no easy feat given the unpredictable nature of Kampala's terrible traffic jams), show up for every scheduled class, are fast at their work, and are not afraid to ask questions.
If you are inspired by our work and would like to support us, you can do so by purchasing a handmade Mazuri item from our Etsy store, or by making a donation to Girl Up Initiative Uganda to be used for the Sewing Our Futures program. If you are in Kampala, support us by coming by our workshop and hiring us as your preferred tailor!
Aspiring Fair Trade Clothing Business Welcomes Visitors
If you live in Uganda, you may know that our sewing workshop in the Luzira neighborhood of Kampala is a place where you can bring clothes for mending, or come to get your measurements taken for custom clothing orders. Our seamstresses are also able to make bags, purses, clutches, wallets, earrings or anything else you would like from locally purchased fabrics. Recently, we were pleased to welcome visitors from the US who were interested in the mission and products of Mazuri Designs.
Sharing our Stories and Processes with Visitors
The first group of visitors was made up of two women that had an interest in fair trade companies (and work at Ten Thousand Villages in the US , the grandmother of companies that began the fair trade movement before that phrase existed). They wanted to learn how Ugandan clothing companies operate specifically the different stages they go through in creating items, how businesses purchase their fabrics and other design elements that are essential to creating a well-made end product.
Mazuri specializes in using material that is commonly referred to as african tribal print fabrics. While they originated in Bali as batik, the fabric was later adopted by Europeans and produced in Europe during the 1800s. These days most of the fabrics that can be easily and cost-effectively purchased in the fabric markets in Kampala originate in China, yet we strive to buy locally produced fabrics when possible. Mazuri purchases fabrics locally so that we can consciously impact the fabric stall owners who live in our community by putting money in their pockets to help them support their families.
A second set of visitors arrived from the Chibuwa Foundation. They came to learn about Girl Up Initiative Uganda's adolescent girls training program, and were also treated to the history and products of Mazuri. They learned how we make clothes in our workshop as they watched items being created on our sewing machines. Our team also took them on a field trip to the fabric market to help them navigate the overwhelming variety of shops and select fabrics they wanted transformed into custom clothing by our seamstresses. One of the women, Molly, owns a jewelry shop in in the US, and expressed interest in returning to learn more about fabrics, the markets, our business process, and the other work of Girl Up Initiative Uganda.
Our Doors Are Open
If you find yourself in Kampala, Uganda, our doors are open! If you're near our workshop in Kampala you are welcome to pay us a visit either by yourself or with a group. We love meeting our customers, helping them realize the designs they have in mind, and explaining how Girl Up Initiative Uganda and Mazuri Designs works to empower and positively impact the lives of young women in our Luzira slum community. Call, text, email or What's App us to arrange an appointment with Mazuri Designs.
For those of you from outside of Uganda, you can follow the journey of Mazuri Designs on our website and Facebook page where we share updates, photos. If you are in the US, check out our online Etsy store where you can purchase items and incorporate the bold, bright, beautiful designs of African fabrics into your look.
We hope to see you soon!
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Kampala Fashion Week
Did you know that Uganda holds a fashion week, or that other African nations like Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria organize them too? Sure, they may be smaller in scope compared to their cousins in New York, Paris, and Milan, but they serve the same purpose - to elevate the art of fashion, move the industry forward, and drive sales.
This week marks the 2nd annual Kampala Fashion Week (KFW) supported by the Ugandan Fashion Council (UFC). Its vision is to inspire and educate both the creative and business sides of the industry, showing how these two sectors are not mutually exclusive, but in fact are both necessary to create sustainable fashion businesses in Uganda.
Image Credit: By UNIFORM Studio CC by 2.0
The Importance of Furthering Fashion Education
At Ugandan universities that provide degrees in fashion design, it's usually theory-based because they lack the funding to purchase sewing machines and supplies. This means that students graduate without ever developing their skills hands-on in workshop. Additionally, the programs lack business skills education to enable graduates to establish and work in sustainable companies in the future.
To address this gap in fashion education, since July 2015 KFW has been holding (mostly free) monthly seminars to providing education to anyone with the desire to learn from industry experts. Seminar topics included the craft of tailoring, photography, design without borders, and makeup. KFW will conclude its programs with the grand finale: the catwalk events this week.
What this Means for Uganda
KFW sees itself as a way to build the fashion industry out of creative Ugandan ideas while also showcasing sustainable businesses and providing job opportunities for youth in Uganda. It's also a way to shine a spotlight and give exposure to both younger and more established brands. In a place where cheap Chinese fashion and custom tailoring are the main ways people get their fashion fix (and we support custom tailoring!), this initiative is a way to build brands, creative passions, and improve fashion and business skills for a growing design community in Uganda.
How this Relates to Mazuri Designs
We support KFW as a way to showcase the innovative designers coming out of Uganda. At Mazuri, we know the value of combining both the creative and business aspects of the fashion industry. That is why our training program for emerging seamstresses focuses on both aspects of creating a sustainable fashion business. Our head seamstress, Innocent, has more than 15 years of practical experience as a seamstress at leading fashion labels in Kampala. She brings her valuable design abilities and sewing skills to Mazuri, training our tailors and overseeing their work. We are fortunate to have her on our team, making items that you, our customer, can delight in.
If you live in Kampala, you can hire us to be your custom tailor. Very soon we will be selling bags, purses, and accessories online, so keep your eyes open for that announcement!
Birthed from our nonprofit Girl Up Initiative Uganda, Mazuri provides seamstress training and creates beautiful handmade fashion, ethically, in Uganda. Read more about our beginnings.