fair trade fashion

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! 

Ugandan Seamstress Training Update

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.

Anna making a fish-tail skirt

Anna making a fish-tail skirt

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.

Our trainer guiding Miriam as she sews a round skirt

Our trainer guiding Miriam as she sews a round skirt

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.

Doreen making a straight skirt with paper

Doreen making a straight skirt with paper

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! 

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!

How to Launch a Sewing Workshop in Uganda

How to Launch a Sewing Workshop in Uganda

We launched Mazuri Designs ethical fashion label in the Luzira slum district of Kampala Uganda this past January 2016.  Learn about our team's initial marketing strategies on how they plan to get the word out about our workshop in their community. Some of their ideas are quite brilliant!

Generosity in Giving During the Holidays

Generosity in Giving During the Holidays

Have you heard of Giving Tuesday but wonder what people are talking about?  December is the time of year when people are generous of spirit, thinking of others and wanted to spread cheer.  Officially the first Tuesday of December, Giving Tuesday kicks off a month-long drive to donate your time or a financial gift to a group that relies on community support.

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.