— observations from the Blue Mountains Design Bureau —

Eco Treasure at Zuri

Like a sundial, 10am each morning sees sunshine spill through the open doors of Vanessa Crumps’ newest Zuri store, in Leura. The scent of exotic orange & cinnamon spice waft from hand rolled soaps, greeting the fresh mountains’ morning air. This fair trade haven is well balanced, featuring the most contemporary eco products and local design. Fans of Zuri in Katoomba will be delighted to find a completely different selection of products, still very beautiful, and each with an inspiring and interesting, ethical story. Enticingly arranged shelves climb the walls and Vanessa grins as she wraps gifts, proving that she gets a big kick out of making things look great!

A few exciting new products at the Leura store include the funky recycled “Ecojot” notebooks which donate a work book to a school child in need, for each one purchased. “La Chama” is a Colombian slow cookware collection. There are “Muskhane“ felt products, designed in France and made in Nepal to support rural villages, “Keep Cups”, local chutneys, jams and wholegrain pasta. Zuri sports the latest collection of products from “The Dharma Door”, a company devoted to provide sustainable solutions to poverty through trade, with gorgeous new products, made using traditional skills from rural villages.

As a big fan of fair trade products, and spending your money where it will make a difference, I was thrilled when Vanessa asked a little while ago if Zuri could stock Laughing Bird. I recently spoke with Vanessa about her newest venture.


Tell us about the name Zuri?

Zuri is Swahili for beautiful or lovely. I choose it because it is a lovely tribute to the people of East Africa where I spent such a lovely time and gained so much inspiration.


Can you tell us about the inspiration for Zuri?

I was burnt out after 18 years of high school teaching and looking for a new challenge. Once the idea of a mountains eco-emporium popped into my head, that was it! It was going to happen! Then my dream location in Katoomba came up for lease and everything fell into place very easily.

Every time I travel I’m inspired, but my most inspirational trip was the time I spent in Kenya and Uganda in 2006. The places and the people just got to me and thinking about that time is a big part of what Zuri is about.

Did you collaborate with some special designers for Zuri in Leura?

The fabulous Jane Canfield used our logo and created all our business stationery and the marvellous Rachel Morse from Colour on Location developed the colour scheme for the Leura shop.


What is exciting you right now?

I’m excited by the lead up to Christmas – there is such a happy buzz in Zuri, in the last few months of the year as everyone gears up for this special time. We get to stock a whole lot of products for the season that people haven’t seen before and their delight in being able to shop in the one place for all their gifts, and in finding something useful or beautiful with story behind it is really nice to be part of. And I get to choose everything which is so much fun!!


What is next on your horizon?

Next on my horizon is getting my house in order – literally – since we undertook major renovations at our place over the last year and there is a lot to do to get it all finished. Looking forward to having a garden again and re-establishing that.

In terms of Zuri, I want to get the online store really moving and known far beyond just the mountains.

What have been the greatest satisfactions running Zuri?

Meeting all our lovely customers – many of whom have become friends. Responding to their needs and suggestions and sharing their delight at our success. We love giving them a wonderful experience – not only can they buy everything they need in terms of eco-household basics and unique gifts and homeware’s, but it’s a great thrill when they give us such wonderful feedback about the whole Zuri experience.


How do you escape from your work?

I don’t!! I believe in an integrated life – family, work, fun, friends – it’s all part of the mix. We only get one short life, so I try to make every part of it as authentic as possible. If it isn’t rich and rewarding, I don’t do it, so work is not something I endure, or get through and have to switch off from. I don’t understand the poor commuter who sits in traffic only to get to a job they don’t enjoy. Life it too short – do something else!

Do you have a weekly delight?

A bottle of champagne with my lovely husband on Saturday nights.


What drew you to the mountains?

I used to visit the mountains as a child, but as I grew older I was just more and more drawn. The idea of living here was always just a soft little dream until I got sick of Sydney being so big and busy and dysfunctional, and I decided to make the move. I guess it was the heritage, the houses, gardens and wilderness that most attracted me – and the weather!

I’m inspired by the dream of an authentic life. For me, that encompasses nature (who never gets it wrong), natural materials, good, clean, real food, genuine people and experiences. That’s what I strive to make my life, and I’m inspired everytime I see a hint of it in someone else’s life too.

What are your favourite things to do in the mountains?

I love the cafes and restaurants, the experience of shopping in unique shops where you know the owner and they know you, the bush walks (even the street walks with the dog) and the scenery (even a trip to the supermarket offers glimpses of amazing vistas). I also love that when you meet a mountains person, you never know what a diverse and interesting background you will uncover as you chat. People here are never just a teacher or a plumber or an accountant – they always seem to have done a range of amazing things.


Do you have some “Pearls of Wisdom” for us?

My favourite quote at the moment is a bit depressing.

Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881), Scottish essayist and historian who wrote

“I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance”.

I get really frustrated by the tone of the debate around climate change, but this quote inspires me not to despair. I’ve always believed in the transformative power of education, and we just having to keep stating the facts, living the good green life and eventually individual ignorance and self interest will have to give way.

Zuri in Leura is located at 83 Railway Pde, and in Katoomba at 67 Katoomba St.

Phone (02) 4784 2448





8 comments on “Eco Treasure at Zuri

  1. Vanessa Crump on said:

    Thank you so much for posting this lovely story about my store. I love your blog and have passed your details onto to so many others. Keep up the good and lovely work. Vanessa x

  2. Very well written and presented – what a joy to shop
    in this magical venue.

    No wonder you look so happy with what you have

  3. All Zuri’s are now closing/closed?

    • Hi Thomas, thanks for your interest and comment. Yes, sadly it is true that both ZURI stores are closing the week of 2nd April 2013.

  4. All Zuri’s are not closing/closed? Is that right? :(

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