A small team in Charleston, South Carolina, Ibu collaborates with over 100 women's groups in 40 countries, providing living wages, and because of that, also self-respect, a voice in their communities, and food for their families. About 50% of our products are designed in the Ibu Studio and crafted by these groups, offering you unique items found nowhere else. The remaining 50% of what we sell is bought wholesale from the artisans at a more-than-fair-trade price, creating livelihood, collegiality, and bonds of friendship between Ibu allies and artisans.
The pastoralist Samburu women of northern Kenya are expert beaders translating their traditional skills into sustainable income. BeadWORKS works with the beaders to promote peaceful community partnerships, conserve natural resources and wildlife through self-governed, community-owned conservancies and sustainable, social and ethical enterprise. BeadWORKS meets women where they are, and makes it possible for them to earn incomes and retain their traditional, semi-nomadic lifestyles.
Bibi Hanum, Uzbekistan
The ancient tradition of ikat dyeing is perfected in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, where silk and cotton threads are spun, counted, bound, dyed, dried… and repeated with each new color. Then it is woven. The process leads to blurry irregularities signature to ikat, loved the world over. Muhayo Alieva brought together women in Tashkent to construct this beautiful ikat fabric into stunning, dramatic clothing. Ibu collaborates with Muhayo to create silhouettes for each season: jackets, dresses, tunics, skirts, clutches, and pillows.
Bluetiful, El Salvador
Indigo dyeing has an important history in the Meso-American culture of what is now El Salvador, but in recent years, industrial practices caused this natural tradition to fade to extinction. Monica Figueroa jumped in to rescue the craft, and to give work to women in San Salvador who have few options. The result is Bluetiful! Working closely with Ibu to create new dresses each spring and summer, the women use a clamp-resist technique to make their designs. The group is small—fifteen artisans—but their impact is huge.
Cherry Buttons, Morocco
In Sefrou, women carry a long tradition of crafting knotted buttons which line the jackets and djellabas of their country, but have been paid poorly for their work. When Ibu asked Amina Yabis if her cooperative could make not only the buttons but construct a Moroccan jacket and embellish it with intricate soutache embroidery, the group of 12 women immediately rose to the challenge with remarkable skill.
Divino Nino, Colombia
Women of the Zenu indigenous group dye and weave cana flècha fibers of their region into cuffs, placemats, napkin rings, and famously, traditional hats.
Etkie, Navajo (Dine)
The Diné, or Navajo, who live in New Mexico, carry remarkable fine beading skills from their own tradition. Etkie is a group of thirteen Native American women who have bonded together to make exquisite cuffs for a larger market, employing their culturally-significant symbols and prayers, and making use of the finest beads and deerskin.
Kip Tik, Mexico
In the highlands of San Andres de Larrainzer, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous women are weaving on their back-strap looms, a tradition thousands of years old, to make their village huipiles, or blouses. For Ibu, these women have been crafting our signature cocktail napkins for seven years, using their fine skills and proud tradition to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families.
On the coast of the Black Sea, women of Sile, Turkey, have been weaving cloth for centuries, carrying it to the beach to wash the new cloth in the tidal waters and dry it on the sand. The magical properties of this ritual reveal themselves in the soft fabric, washed by the sea, dried by the sun, blessed by the earth.
Mola Sasa, Colombia
Women of the Kuna (or Guna) indigenous group, originally from the San Blas islands of Panama, are famous for their fabulous reverse appliqué known as molas: rectangles of cloth in colorful cut-away layers. As many of this group migrated to Colombia, Yasmin Sabet founded Mola Sasa to preserve their unique craft and find a wide market to provide a livelihood. Celebrated by Vogue and international fashion icons, Mola Sasa adapts traditional techniques to make luxurious clutches, bangles, and pillows . . . and dresses and jackets for Ibu.
Mothers in Action, Peru
Women in rural highland Peru tend alpaca, which they sheer without harm, and then knit soft, warm sweaters and ruanas for livelihood. Believing it possible to create fashion with love, and to preserve the planet while doing so, these women are organized under the Fair Trade practices begun by America Durand in 2007 with twelve women. Now, over 250 women join these efforts and are sustained by their work.
Sisters Marta and Sandra Castañeda founded Pais in their native Peru, offering women of the highlands a livelihood for their remarkable weaving skills. Some continue to work on a back-strap loom in the ancient ways of that region, rich in weaving history. Ibu collaborates with the women of Pais to create clutches, pouches, cosmetic bags, and other accessories in colors bright and chic.
Queen Amina, Nigeria
Named for the 16th-century ruler of the Zazzau Emirate, Queen Amina, the women of Zaria City, Northern Nigeria, draw inspiration from her fierce initiatives and leadership. Founded by Hassana Yusef, these women employ their skills with fine Hausa embroidery, collaborating with Ibu to interpret their designs into caftans and tunics on their crisp white damask.
Seven Sisters, Kyrgyzstan
The seven Sharshembieva sisters remember watching their grandmother lay felted patterns down to make carpets as she explained the legends held in each design. As nomads, the Kyrgyz used wool felting to depict totems of their tribe and keep yurts warm in the snowy mountains.The sisters took that heritage skill and innovated on silk, creating scarves and apparel which carry forward their rich past and employ women in the making of something new.
Named for a Sanskrit word meaning "caring through service", Sevya is dedicated to preserving the indigenous art forms and cultures of India and supporting the artisan communities who uphold these traditions. All of their products embody centuries-old traditions, interpreting these eco-friendly methods in contemporary styles on the handloom, through block-printing, and embroidery.
The rural women of Pakistan carry a wealth of heritage embroidery skills, now employed to reach a wide external market and, with that income, to sustain their families in areas where there is little or no other work. An accomplished designer, Samina Mahmud founded SheWorks to celebrate this craft and the women who carry it forward. In close collaboration with Ibu, Samina works with five groups of 20 to 25 women, impacting 1,200 people.
It began at a wedding in Kenya, when Sandra Zhao wore a colorful African-print dress she designed, and Ashleigh Miller deemed it perfect for everyone. These two new friends collaborated with women in Kenya to source the best fabric and construct a stylish dress for a wide and appreciative market. Known for wild, colorful prints and a flattering shape, the Zuri dress is one of our most popular and enduring styles, and the women of Kenya prosper because of it.