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3 WAYS TO STYLE JUJU HATS

We've all seen it - that beautiful showroom living room, everything perfect and newly manufactured, looking like even the slightest act of relaxation would shatter it all. Beautiful, but its missing something...soul.

There's something to be said about a home that reflects the personality and energy of the people who live in it. Good storytelling is at the heart of connection, and beautiful homes tell good stories. After getting to know you over the years in conversations and at market events, I know that curating a home that has a mix of new and vintage pieces - a comfortable space that expresses your personality and has layers of meaning (like you) - is a big priority to you, my lovely Zeal customers!

There are of course hundreds of ways to bring that textured, eclectic, global and inspired look to your space, but this post is dedicated to my personal favorite: the Bamileke Juju Hat from Cameroon.

Juju hats have rich history and deep cultural significance. As the name implies, these beauties were traditionally worn as hats - feathers to the sky - as part of ornate costumes worn in royal ceremonies.  

Juju hats carry with them the lightness and freedom of birds, as well as symbolizing abundance and royal dignity. They blend perfectly with a wide variety of interior decorating styles - and since no two are ever alike, your space will never look exactly like everyone else's. Even better, you can be confident knowing that the artisan who created your piece did so lovingly and carefully, and were treated with respect by being paid generously for their hard work.

Over the years of selling juju hats, one of the questions we get asked the most is how to style them. So without further ado: four ways to style juju hats in your home!

1. USE A LARGE JUJU HAT AS A FOCAL POINT

Our most popular juju hat is the large size, which ranges from 29-31 inches in diameter. They're incredibly eye catching in an entryway, above a fireplace, or over a bed.

Photo by Alicia Lewin

Photo by Cody Ulrich

2. ARRANGE JUJU HATS IN GROUPS OF LARGE AND SMALL

Juju hats also look great in groups of 2, 3, 4 - even up to 7 or 9! The impact is multiplied when you add more in complimentary colors and styles.

3. USE JUJU HATS AS PART OF GALLERY WALLS

Juju hats add extra pop to groups of more traditional art like paintings, photographs - even children's books.

As you can see, juju hats are incredibly versatile! We'd love to help you find the perfect one for your space. For more information on what makes our juju hats different, check out this post.

Looking for more inspiration? We have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to the Juju Hat!  

JUJU HAT UNBOXING, HANGING, AND CARE

Authentic African Juju Hat being opened and unwrapped

Unwrapping and Hanging your Juju Hat

Here at Zeal Living, we are juju hat experts! We are proud to offer authentic African juju hats, handmade by our artisan partners in Cameroon. These gorgeous headdresses are very important to the culture of the Bamiléké people. Traditionally worn in royal ceremonies, they are thought to carry with them all of the positive symbolic meaning of birds - freedom, lightness, flight - as well as abundance and royalty. We love that these pieces are not only beautiful but carry such rich meaning into your homes and lives. 

Juju hats are designed with the ability to fold inward into a drum shape, which protects the feathers. Your juju hat will arrive folded inward, wrapped tightly with string, and encased in bubble wrap. 

Bottom view of an authentic African juju hat from Cameroon wrapped up for shipping

When your juju hat arrives, untie the outer strings - but do not cut them! Once you do this, the juju hat will loosen, and you can gently open it outwards. At the back base of the juju, there is a tab you can use to press the center of the hat inwards. Gently press the tab all the way in until it pops into place. Some juju hats are woven more tightly than others - this pop may or may not be noticeable. You'll know your juju is fully open when the center of the hat is even, and the feathers don't lean one way or the other. 

Once your juju hat is open, it will need to have its outer edges straightened out and made even. Gently use your fingers to reposition the feather bundles on the outer edges, and finger comb the interior feathers until they even and in place. For particularly troublesome areas, like the outer edges, you can use a blow dryer on cool to fluff them up.

Your juju hat has a string loop built in to the back support rim to make hanging easy.  

General Cleaning and Care instructions: 

Because feathers are a natural material, moths can become attracted to them. To protect your juju, we recommend placing a small amount of cedar or lavender near the back. Additionally you can spray it periodically with a moth spray, available online or at your local hardware store. 

Juju hats attract a surprisingly little amount of dust, especially on the feathers - but they will need a dusting from time to time. We recommend using a blow dryer on cool. 

 

All photographs by Analy Lee, Analy Photos 

MOROCCAN MINT TEA

(photo by Chabi Chic)

The tradition of Attay -  the name for Morocco's signature sweet, mint tea - goes back centuries in North Africa, and is a crucial part of daily life. As a traveler or a local, no matter where you go - to a souk, a cafe, a Riad, or the home of a new friend - you are sure to be served a steaming hot cup. On my first visit to Morocco in 2016, I became enraptured with it. After you get used to the powerful sweetness, there are layers to the flavor that are subtle and wonderful. The basic ingredients are fresh mint leaves, gunpowder green tea, sugar, and hot water. But in winter, its common to add absinthe (wormwood) leaves, marjoram, sage, and verbena as well.  Different regions of the country are known for their variations - some lighter and more subtle, some darker and more herbal. 

The tradition of tea in Morocco includes layers of ritual and artful service. The first step is adding rolled pellets of gunpowder green tea to hot water. After this has steeped for a few minutes, the water is removed from the pot and set aside. This bitter brew is considered the "spirit" of the tea, and isn't discarded. The next step is to add more water, add sugar, and brew again. Once this is finished, fresh mint leaves are added to individual glasses, and the tea is poured into each cup from a great distance to aerate and cool the tea. The "spirit" or initial bitter infusion may be added back in to deepen the flavor. 

(photo by Nargisse Benkabbou of MyMoroccanFood.com)

(photo by Nargisse Benkabbou of MyMoroccanFood.com)

 

MOROCCAN MINT TEA RECIPE

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon gunpowder green tea
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste 
  • 1 large bunch fresh mint leaves

Using a 1 to 1 1/2 quart teapot, put tea in teapot and pour in 1/2 cup boiling water. Let simmer for one minute. Strain out and set aside water - this is the essence or "spirit" of the tea. Reserve the tea leaves in the pot.

Repeat this process with a fresh 1/2 cup of water, this time swirling gently to warm the pot and rinse the tea. Discard water. 

Fill the teapot with the remainder of the water and the majority of the fresh mint leaves, and let it come to a boil. Once the water has boiled, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Optional: add the "spirit" back in to the tea, one teaspoonful at at time, to taste. Place a few additional fresh mint leaves in our traditional tea glasses, and strain the tea into each glass, making sure that the tea leaves stay in the pot. 

 Enjoy! 

 

XO, 

 

Caitlin 

(photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

 

ZEAL LIVING + GUESTHOUSE

It has been such an honor to be included in recent projects with Designer Bret Sundberg and Guest House! Guest House is an exciting Denver and Boulder concept that stages high-end homes for sale with all handcrafted and locally made goods. Everything in the homes is for sale, from the furniture, to the art, to the glassware and picture frames.  Zeal Living pieces have been scattered throughout recent projects - look closely and you'll see glassware, coasters, tablecloths, Fulani bowls, Bamileke vessels, blankets, and wall hangings. My personal favorites from this Cherry Creek apartment are the artwork by Lauren Fuhr, the gorgeous dipped textile wall hanging by Uccelino, and those to-die-for vegetable dyed velvet pillows by Edie Urie. 

Alex, the founder of Guest House, is a genuinely wonderful guy and his ingenuity is inspiring to me. I'm proud to be a Guest House partner and hope to collaborate on many projects in the future. 

XO, 

Caitlin 

(All photographs by Kylie Fitts

ZEAL LIVING + CHELSEA MEISSNER

I was recently contacted by designer Kim Spradlin Wolfe, who was working on a total redesign of Southern Charm star Chelsea Meissner's South Carolina home. If those names sound familiar, its because Kim and Chelsea originally met on the set of Survivor season 24, "one world" - Kim was the winner! Photographer Jillian Guyette interviewed Kim and Chelsea on her blog, which is well worth a read to get more details on the renovation and finishings. But the main thing I loved about it was getting an inside view on their friendship, which sounds hilarious and life giving, and I love that!

Kim chose two Zeal Living baskets for Chelsea's home - the Pom Pom Basket and the Simple Spotted Black and White Plateau Basket. Kim and Chelsea - thank you so much for prioritizing artisan made in the space - I am so proud to see each piece looking so perfectly at home!

I hope you are as inspired by this bright, cheerful space as much as I am!

All photos by Jillian Guyette.

XO,

Caitlin

P.S. while the styles Chelsea chose are sold out, we've got these similar options for you:

Black and white graphic zig zag low African basket
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