The Boss Ladies Behind Zuri
Co-founders Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Gersh Miller launched Zuri in 2017. Zhao initially designed “the one dress” when she was living in Nairobi. She created a wrinkle resistant, tunic style dress that’s fitted in the shoulders and loose thought the body to suite her travel needs. Miller (another New Yorker who had recently relocated to Nairobi) saw Zhao in the dress and was immediately drawn to it. The inspiration of brand name Zuri is mzuri, Swahili for good which embodies the ethos in everything they do.
While they have added a few more items beyond the “one dress”, the original dress remains the core of the brand. It is designed to suit different body types and heights. Despite the growth of the brand, the design has changed only slightly from Zhao’s original. In response to feedback from friends, the sleeves are longer so the dress can be tied around the waist and worn as a skirt. Pockets were also added and buttons down the front so it can be worn as a jacket.
The dresses are made in Dutch wax fabric and available in limited-run patterns. While they source fabric from Tanzania, Congo and Nigeria, historically the dress isn’t African. The material was produced by the Dutch from the Indonesian Batik market. The wax-printed cotton traveled via colonial channels and East and West Africa where it became ubiquitous. All of the patterns are short-lived and modified.
Sustainable and Ethical Manufacturing
Zuri’s dresses are made in Kenya by SOKO, a clothing manufacturing unit based in Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary. SOKO was established in 2009 by Joanna Maiden to provide the fashion industry a manufacturing alternative with complete CMT (cut, make, trim). SOKO is able to manufacture, label and pack to client’s specification in addition to managing import and export logistics. Importantly SOKO also pays fair wages, provides training, safe and humane work conditions, free childcare during work hours and limits negative environmental impact.
Armoire Member Reviews
Our members have been raving about their Zuri dresses! Here’s a few things our members have been saying about their rentals:
“Received a ton of compliments. Love the colors.”
“My go-to for meetings. It’s unique, comfy, and such a statement. POCKETS ARE GOLD!”
“Great dress for work- not too short and the pattern was awesome!”
Try these Zuri dresses to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. One of the best parts of rental is the ability to try items you typically wouldn’t purchase commitment-free! Rent their bold patterns on rotation and receive a ton of compliments from all your office friends.