Last Monday night, seven artisan leaders hailing from Nigeria, Colombia, Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Haiti gather around a homemade dinner by candlelight, meeting each other for the first time. By the end of that dinner, stories are lying on the table—stories of everyday challenges strangely common to their vastly different lives. Laughter is spilling from that deep place where all distant roads meet. Friends are found. One said to me, the next morning: This is what I learned last night—that we have the same soul, all of us. That we are one.
Over the next two days, these Ibu Global Champions met supporters and allies, spoke on a panel about creating Beauty in Distress, stayed up half the night in conversation, met with our design team to plan sparkling future collections, stood before a crowd of 450 to give witness to our common work, and walked the runway beside their creations.
At our sold-out Fringe Revolution event, women and men tasted fare from Ghana, Pakistan, Argentina, the Mid-East—under festive fringe, quilts of color, and to the sound of global drums; they were led by powerful voices to the runway, or to the RealWay, as I like to say. They raised their paddles in response to the call of Oneness, such that we soon sailed past our goal for this half-way point in our two-year campaign, topping $1,000,000.
When Aretha's voice belted out the Ibu anthem, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, faces on the runway lit with joy. I feel noble in these clothes, said one model. Another, I feel honored to represent the women of the world. Another, this is the funnest runway ever. The large screen revealed the artisans whose hands and imaginations had crafted these garments. The models beamed, the audience mirroring that light. When Ali MacGraw stepped out to walk the final look she had designed to the finest detail, we knew we were in the presence of real beauty.
As the finale began, models reached out to include the artisan who had made their garment and walked hand in hand the final stretch. Above, under a swirling glitter ball, a colorful flutter of confetti floated down with the words of our Global Champions on each one. I think it was a roar of Joy I heard. In my heart, it was deafening.
In this silence which has followed, now a few days past, what I cling to most fondly is the memory of the seven champions fastening to one another. I didn't know we were that special, said one, but you make us feel that way. Another, I didn't know there were others out there doing this same hard work. I often feel alone. But no longer. Said another, Thank you, Ibu, for being this eco-system of support. This will stay with us always.
I love belonging to that eco-system, as you belong to it, too—supporting a world where women shine. Where every step reaches toward joy.
With unspeakable gratitude to all who put their hands to the task, who led us to this high moment, who made my heart roar…
All the best,