Did you know an orchid can live 100 years?! (No one told mine, who grace my kitchen for a few fleeting weeks, max.) And this - orchids are 100 million year old, collectively speaking; fossils spill that secret. I had no idea.
What I did know is that deep in the three mountains ranges of Colombia, hundreds of varieties run wild and free.
Here in Sile, a women's community honors a 150-year-old craft tradition,
hand-looming organic cotton, washing it in the saline water of the Black Sea, and spreading out their cloth to dry on the quartz sands of their beach.
I walk into the design studio of Carolina Vélez in Medellín, Colombia. . . totally unprepared for the jaw dropping that is to come.
Her lover gave her a splendid orchid blossom. It splurged; it faded. Still cherishing, she tucked it in a drawer. A month later, forgetting, she opened and found the blossom still there - dried but alive with memory. A jeweler, she dreamt of turning it into gold. She consulted teachers, experts; no one could tell her how to perform this alchemy. So she set out - by trying and trying again - to find her own way.
I'm sitting down with Chantha Nguon to discuss designs for our World Dress collection, having admired for years her work with luscious silk. Chantha is a strong, petite woman with a handsome face and eyes that hold a harrowing history. Born in culturally rich Cambodia, Chantha escaped the Khmer Rouge regime when she was nine, living in war-torn Saigon and later for 10 years without family in a Thai refugee camp. When she at last returned to her home in Cambodia, the culture had been extinguished; the women in her village knew nothing of their heritage, nor of hope.
Each week, I celebrate here women of uncommon strength; artisans crafting a new world; Ibu on the move. But there is another kind of Ibu in this movement: women of influence and accomplishment among us who are reaching out to elevate women worldwide.