Seven years ago, a shy young woman knocked on my door, interviewing for work as a seamstress. For months, we met after her regular job hours to design jackets together from my stash of artisanal fabric; she took home bundles to her tiny kitchen table and returned with gorgeous finished pieces. Finally, after much persuading, she risked leaving her real job to come work with me full-time, sewing on the top floor of my home every weekday for 2 years. Ibu was not yet born, but Jamie Buskey was part of the foundation from which Ibu would be built.
We added others to the team. We renovated and moved into a showroom. We launched Ibu. All the while Jamie was at the sewing machine, pounding out magic. Ibu grew so quickly that Jamie soon became Production Manager, reaching out to one artisan at a time to oversee our collaborations, getting up in the middle of the night to call her colleague across a 13 hour time difference, chatting via What's App on embroidery colors, sample deadlines, pattern fitting, and occasionally, the heartbreak that faced a women that day in Madagascar, or Mumbai.
When Jamie bloomed with her first child, tiny clothes from all over the world poured in for little Clementine. The artisans love Jamie, her true heart, her attentive council, her guiding hand.
For the last month, Jamie has been calling each artisan, one by one, dozens of them, to tell them the difficult news that she is leaving Ibu to pursue new paths that call to her. But first she called me, two thousand miles away, to tell me of her decision; so I know how those artisans feel. Absolutely bereft.
But then I think about what it means - all this love. I think it means that Ibu is made up of just that: love, respect, relationship. And I smile to myself because that is exactly what I set out for Ibu to be: a world-wide web of women elevating one another into our best possible selves. Jamie leaves us, seven years later, a different woman, brimming with self-respect, confidence, possibilities, a world-wide web of friends. That is all a part of the Ibu story - not just abroad but right here in our studio. That we know ourselves to be sovereign, intrepid, big-hearted, bold. And loved.
Here's to you, Jimmie, and the Ibu you have become. Your good heart will always guide our vision. Your beginning will shape our future. And you will be a legend of the tribe.
Susan Hull Walker