When Susan Hull Walker went back to school and took up weaving 15 years ago, she quickly developed an obsession with textiles created by women’s cooperatives around the world. There was the cotton in India, the ikat in central Asia, the embroidery in Pakistan, and the indigo in Japan—all timeworn crafts kept alive by the hands that continued to weave. And while many NGOs were bringing over similar crafts to sell in U.S. markets, few were focusing on the painstakingly complex techniques that she felt would flourish, in particular, in the Stateside interior design world.
“I wanted to provide a market for women artisans all over the world who have always known these skills,” Walker says. “These skills can be income producing, and the women can become self-sufficient. Once they have money, they get choices.”
Thus was born Ibu Movement, Walker’s Charleston, South Carolina–based shop that opened this year. Named for an Indonesian term of respect for women, the 2,600-square-foot space is a riot of color and pattern—a glamorous riff on global. Some pieces are sold as they arrive, while others are sewn into coats, pillows, and tunics by an in-house seamstress. Walker might also tweak a design—muting the color palette, perhaps, or altering the proportions of a garment—so that it’s more attractive to her clients. In the shop, antiques from her friend John Pope (whose store is across the street) mix in with wood stools she picked up on a recent trip to Ethiopia, contemporary brass task lamps, and, of course, all the dynamic textiles that are for sale—a setup that itself shows shoppers how they might use these eccentric wares in an interesting, modern way.
“I approach decorating the home in the same way I dress,” she says. “I start with black, gray, and blue tops and pants that I buy from regular stores. Then I pile on jackets, vests, jewelry, and scarves that I can change out easily. I’m teaching others to do that, too.”
Ibu Movement, 183 King Street, 2nd floor, Charleston, South Carolina; ibumovement.com