Busting My Buttons

Amina saw the problem.  The women of her town were making buttons; making them at home with a complex knotting of needle and thread, and trading them for pennies to traveling salesmen who, pumping up the price, sold them to tailors across the country at a nice profit.  The problem was the Middle Man.

So, Amina organized a cooperative, called it Cherry Buttons, and created channels to get the buttons to the tailors themselves, where they lined the front of Moroccan djellabas everywhere.  And that, if you can believe it, is the difference between pennies at home, and a life-sustaining business of craft.

On a trip to visit the women of Cherry Buttons in their hometown of Sefrou, Ibu Foundation donors got a hands-on lesson in button making.  I watched my friend, Ken, refuse to give up as he learned the complexities of buttonhood. I watched Kitty gleefully turning her buttons into earrings. I watched the women of Cherry Buttons take joy in it all. A common language wasn't necessary.  The buttons held us together.

When I first visited Amina six years ago, the women were not just making buttons, but tailoring their first jacket for Ibu as well. Here her daughter-in-law, Wafae, and I try on the first sampling.  Since then, Ibu has ordered jackets from these fine artisans in wool, velvet, and now, a new navy linen - each replete with their fine hand embroidery.  It's become an Ibu Classic.

WeAreIbu, our non-profit engine powering the movement, provided a stipend for Wafae to allow her to leave her daycare job and instead organize, grow, and lead Cherry Buttons into self-sufficiency; while also supplying industrial strength sewing machines, a computer, and relief rom the Covid-19 shutdown. The cooperative has risen from 12 to 30+ women and others are waiting to join.

It is the great joy of my work - watching these women thrive.  I must say, I am just busting my buttons.

Celebrate with me. 
Wear some joy ~

Susan Hull Walker