Mazuri Designs Makes Its Music Video Debut!

PJ Powers Thakeda

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! 

In Uganda? Visit our Kampala Sewing Workshop

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!

A History of African Wax Prints

The terms 'African prints' or 'tribal prints' can be misleading.  'Dutch wax prints' is a more accurate term for a design style many assume originated in Africa.  Learn about this fabric's Indonesian origins, and how it become associated with Africa in the minds of many.

Meeting Mazuri

Meeting Mazuri

Being a volunteer Advisor to Mazuri, I wanted to visit Kampala and meet the team, see the workshop, and get a better understanding of how tailoring businesses worked in Uganda.  Come along as I visit the bustling fabric market in the city and have a custom dress made.

Supporting Kampala's Fashion Industry

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!