When Pat Mitchell and I led a group of 14 allies to visit artisan partners in Kenya, while Hannah traveled to Colombia to inaugurate an Ibu-supported workspace built by the Wayuu community, I saw first-hand the galvanizing impact of these exchanges. Women rise in respect when you purchase the beauty they create. They grow stronger when a workspace unites their efforts. But women, when seen, heard, known, respected… are unstoppable.
Those who accompanied us on the trip were equally energized to sustain connections, to befriend the world. Travel became one of the Four Pillars of our new way forward, so formative it is for both allies and artisans.
Trunk Shows began to resume after a Covid hiatus, hosted by generous allies bringing the Movement to their homes, shops, clubs, cities, so that our web of connections continued to grow. I'm enormously grateful to each of these for this important work of expanding the Marketplace for artisan partners:
Alessandra Branca, Palm Beach
Monica and Ken Seeger, Brays Island
Charlotte Moss, New York City
Stephanie Hunt, Park City, Utah
Joanie Kriens and Sales Force, Scotts Vally, CA
Pat Mitchell, Lanie Korn, Jaimie Dewberry, Almira Ulykbanova-Bild, & Susan Bass, Atlanta, GA
Jennifer Richardson in NorthEast Harbor, Maine
and the Arts, etc. organization of Kiawah Island, SC.
With each new city, our friendships grow, our movement dances.
In addition to providing a Marketplace for over 100 women's artisan groups in 2022, Ibu funded new workspaces, offered training, and purchased needed equipment. These capacity building projects included grants to:
- Casa Guatemala, for a website platform facilitating wholesale orders.
- Chic Fusion, South Africa, for new sustainable equipment improving their wet-felting process.
- Kiwimbi, Kenya, for launching a tailoring program for young women.
- Kandahar Treasures, Afghanistan, for Covid relief when food was inaccessible, and now a major effort to market their goods to the US.
- SheWorks, Pakistan, for a professional video to highlight their heritage craft.
- Wayuu, Colombia, to complete a new workspace and provide supplies and equipment.
On March 8, we honored Rangina Hamidi as our International Women's Day Global Champion at an electrified gathering hosted by Rebecca Darwin. Within six months, Rangina returned for the announcement of a $400,000 grant to Ibu by the US Department of State, advancing our work with her artisan cooperative in Kandahar, Afghanistan. That rare swift action galvanized us to hire former Ibu Intern Abbie Kline as project manager to oversee this major initiative. Meanwhile, the Ibu team began cooking up another signature March 8 gathering, making plans for our Fringe Revolution celebration next month with not one, but seven Global Champions joining us. (Hope you can be here!)
Ibu Sales grew by 20% in 2022, allowing us to send more money back into the hands of our artisan partners.
Ibu donations pledged in 2022 totaled $668,000 in a huge leap forward—mirroring your confidence in the work ahead.
The Ibu Team grew as well, adding Meredith Gale as our Director of Creative Collaborations and Development, and Laura Kappus as Director of Sales.
With increased revenue, contributions, and staff, the work blossomed into new realms of possibility.
My decision to donate Ibu, LLC, to the Ibu Foundation, effective in August of last year, revolutionized our operations. The Ibu Foundation Board and Ibu team worked tirelessly to integrate budgets, define pillars, organize leadership, and fulfill legal requirements to make this a sustaining and impactful decision. I am deeply moved by the efforts of all who care so deeply about sweeping the road ahead.
The resulting strategy and plans led to a Ten Year Initiative we're calling The Fringe Revolution: Women on the Edge of Change and kicking off on March 8 of this year. The in-depth process of defining these commitments led to a stronger team and an even deeper understanding of our work.
I come into 2023 with great expectancy. The efforts of the past year have given us legs, and a readiness to run. Your enthusiasm has been the wind behind us. The women of the world, watching and working along beside us, are the joy in our stride. Here's to all that is yet to be.
All the best,