Mazuri was birthed from a project of the young-women led nonprofit organization, Girl Up Initiative Uganda, which educates and empowers girls to become leaders in their communities. The young women of Girl Up Uganda asked to be trained in a vocational skill that would allow them to earn money with dignity and integrity. Hearing their need, we started a seamstress training program, called Sewing Our Futures, that has grown into a workshop that produces ethical fashion in Africa for local and international sale.
Mazuri provides vocational skills and basic business education to the poor and marginalized population of women living in the slums of Kampala. Three young women have already graduated from our six month program, where they learned skills such as time management, financial accountability, fashion design, customer service, business management and tailoring. For some, learning the new skill was a challenge. For instance, learning what to do when a needle breaks or when mistakes are made on a piece they are creating for a client. For others it was a comfort zone pusher - from normally being quiet and reserved by nature, to being encouraged to speak up and make sales with confidence.
Mazuri operates as a local tailoring workshop, where anyone can bring photos or ideas of something they want produced - children's dresses, men's shirts, women's skirts, purses, bags, earrings and more - and we create made-to-fit pieces based on our clients' measurements and taste.
Stage two for Mazuri is to bring our products online to an international market. We will soon showcase our products on both an Etsy store, and here on mazuridesigns.com. Everything we create has the spirit of Uganda in it, reflected in the dutch wax fabrics that we source locally at the market.
Mazuri Designs is ethical fashion in Africa. Our women work Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm. They have the support and guidance of an expertly trained head seamstress with previous experience from one of Uganda's top fashion labels. They come to work each day in a safe and clean workshop, not far from where the live. The environment is nurturing and supportive, and the women, who at the onset didn't know each other well, have become a close community of friends. The job skills they have learned have extended well into other aspects of their lives. They tell us they've become more expressive and confident in their daily lives and that they take pride in the work they are doing.
Using foot-pedaled sewing machines we create handmade fashion, from our workshop to your closet. Instead of mass producing cheap fast fashion, we believe where and how clothing is made matters, and by whom. Every purchase you make goes directly to the woman who made your designs and the costs of production. All profit is reinvested back into the operations of Mazuri and future trainings for more young vulnerable women so we can grow and expand our capabilities and the number of women we impact.