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Ageless Style-Susan Walker

I found IBU Movement via my feature on Ali Macgraw in Ali Macgraw Aging Gracefully back in 2018.  Susan contacted me later and thanked me for linking to IBU.  We began a conversation and decided to collaborate.  Today I am so happy to be interviewing Susan because she incorporates the “ethnic chic”look in her home and her own personal style. Welcome to Ageless Style-Susan Walker.  We are so happy you are here! Thank you for empowering women artists in underdeveloped and developing countries all over the world.

You graduated from Harvard Divinity School, began your career as a minister, and went on to get a degree in textile arts. You are also passionate about women around the world receiving fair wages for their work.  Tell us about how this has influenced what you are now doing at IBU.

All of these pieces came together in founding Ibu:  my fascination with diverse world cultures and religions, my desire to elevate women and promote their under-valued skills in textiles, and my own experience as a weaver.  At Ibu, we collaborate with women in over 40 countries, studying their traditions and techniques and then designing clothing, jewelry, and accessories for our market.  I want to put money in the hands of women, especially those living in poverty in developing countries – women who are ambitious, strong, skilled, and full of imagination. When given respect and work, these women rise into leadership in their communities.  They send their daughters as well as their sons to school.  They support themselves, make their own choices, and live in a very different future.

What are your goals for IBU moving forward?

I started an Ibu non-profit last year as well as the business – one that can help women’s cooperatives with basic business training and workspace so that they can succeed in turning their craft into income.  My hope is that this support, along with the work Ibu offers, will allow women to develop sustainable businesses and change the arc of their lives.  My goal is for women, all women, to lead self-authorized lives.

susan hull walker IBU founder with IBu Artisans

Tell us about your collaboration with Ali MacGraw

Ali MacGraw is the epitome of an Ibu (which means, a woman of respect in Indonesia, where I first gave birth to this idea).  She has lived a life of service and also embodies a style that is real, down to earth, unique, and of course, très chic.  She is an enthusiastic supporter of Ibu, designing two clothing collections in our first five years, and now a Gift Collection on the 50th anniversary of Love Story.  Ali took the colors and feel of the original Love Story graphic, added the word HOPE which she feels is the word that speaks to our time, and from her inspiration, Ibu artisans in Rwanda, Kenya, Guatemala, Haiti, Bangladesh crafted a whole collection of gifts for these holidays.  She is generous in spirit, loves designing, is totally humble, totally fun.

Susan Walker and Ali Macgraw with Ali's gift collection

You can find Ali’s holiday collection with IBU here

Ali Macgraw for IBU holiday

Do you have any favorite textiles?

Impossible to choose!  That’s like asking which is your favorite child:) I love the soul of so many textiles, but in my home are simple striped mantas from Bolivia, complex phulkaris from the Swat Valley, painted canvases (pichvai) from Rajasthan, India, and of course, hand-embroidered suzanis from Uzbekistan.

susan walker on her patio

What do you enjoy doing in your free time outside of IBU?

Oh, there’s hardly a moment free when running a small business during Covid – right?   But I love to get my hands in the dirt to garden, take long walks on the barrier islands around Charleston, cultivate the inner life, watch English television with my husband.

Does your home reflect the IBU look as well?

Absolutely.  I am a sucker for a gorgeous textile and I fill my house with them – thrown over white chairs and sofas or bed, made into pillows and benches, hung on the wall, upholstered into chairs.  The rest of my home – the floors and walls and furniture is quiet, allowing the textiles to sing.

Susan Walker's Charleston living room

susan walker ibu founder's family room

Who Inspires You and Why?

The women artisans with whom we work at Ibu inspire me daily.  Living in the midst of war, violence, poverty, corruption, flooding  – and yet they rise again and again to create beauty out of their lives. I am humbled by it, and hugely inspired.

How would you describe your personal style?

Really the same way I described my house!  Simple basic pieces as a canvas allowing textile-rich jackets, shawls, shoes and accessories to speak.  In order to avoid looking like I’m in a costume, I marry pieces I love from other cultures to a classic western silhouette. A crisp white shirt, slim pants, over-the-knee boots. I often look down and count the countries I am wearing – bangles from Thailand, a bag from Uzbekistan, shoes from Morocco, a scarf from Kashmir  – and feel I am at home in the world.


Susan Walker at IBU featured on Cindy Hattersley's blog

What is your favorite accessory?

Loads of beaded necklaces stacked high, mixed with coin necklaces, or with shells.   As another Ibu Ambassador, Iris Apfel, says, More is More.

Do you have a signature piece that defines your style?

I always have a set of bangles on my arm – several silver beaded ones or a collection of horn and bone bangles I’ve picked up here and there around the world.

susan hull walker ibu founder surrounded by textiles-ageless style with cindy hattersley

Do you have any style rules that you live by, or do you choose to break the rules?

I won’t leave the house until I feel comfortable in my own skin.  Sometimes I don’t know why a certain outfit doesn’t feel right, but that doesn’t matter.  If it feels out of tune with me that day, I change.

susan walker's charleston living room

What are your favorite online and or boutique sources?

I lean on Eileen Fisher for some basics, also Lafayette148NY for white blouses. Most of my clothes are from Ibu or from travels, so I simply shop for basic pieces.  Oh, and Figue.  Love their caftans and sandals.

Do you have a particular diet and or exercise regime that you would like to share with Ageless Style?

I work out every day at the gym and that means strength training, cardio, and Pilates.  During Covid, I substituted long walks, and always try to get in those 10,000 steps a day.

Do you have any anti-aging foods and or supplements that are your go to’s

I eat the good food my husband prepares – salmon and vegetables, a little lean meat, fruit in the morning.  As much as possible, I try to eat my vitamins – in my food, that is.

susan hull walker IBU founder in her charleston home

What advice do you have for women over 50?

I hope we all stay passionate and engaged!  I know so many women over 50 who are smart, educated, resourceful and don’t know what to do with themselves.  By now, we know who we are  We know what we love.  Out of that love, there is so much to do, share, give, and care about.  If you love cooking, there are people who are hungry for that comfort.  If you love music, we all need to hear your song.  If you love gardening, give your flowers to those who have not yet blossomed.   This is joy – spending your full energies on this life with abandon.  But not out of duty.  Only out of love.

Susan’s” Ethnic Chic” Style

Susan’s style really resonates with me personally because it is Layered and personal,  honors the customs, cultures, and resources of countries around the planet and blends them into “well-traveled” whole. Lighting, furniture, textiles, flooring, textures, and accessories are married with past cultures,  modern taste, and contemporary living (Ethnic Chic at it’s best)  You might enjoy reading my post Ethinc Chic and How to Get It here.

If you would like to learn more about Susan and IBU:

You can find the entire IBU Collection here

You can follow IBU Movement on Instagram here where the IBU story is interwoven throughout their feed.

Charleton Magazine wrote a wonderful article here about Susan and her favorite finds.

Susan shares how to use Antique Textiles in your home in the Scout Guide here

Ageless Style-Susan Hull Walker

Thank you so much Susan for allowing me to interview you and sharing your creative spirit.  I know our community here on Cindy Hattersley Design so enjoyed it.

Thank you readers for being here and reading Ageless Style-Susan Walker.  Tomorrow I will be joining my friend Jennifer and we are sharing ideas for casual holiday at home dressing.  I will be featuring some pieces from IBU with suggestions on how to style them, and sharing some gift ideas from the IBU collection.

Don’t forget to pop over to The Vintage Contessa and see who my friend Elizabeth is interviewing.  I know you won’t want to miss it.



Reader Interactions


  1. Robin says

    Thank you for sharing Susan with us, Cindy.
    I would love to have a collection of her beads, or yours, or Elizabeth’s. I certainly would wear them!! Any suggestions?
    I wish you and your readers a Buon Natale, and a safe and peaceful 2021.
    Baci di Umbria, Robin

  2. Susan Hull Walker says

    Thank you, all of you wonderful women, for your lovely comments – I am so humbled and honored! It was such fun to respond to Cindy’s good questions and to share the work that matters so much to me. And thank you for finding Ibu – I hope you will join the movement and maybe even subscribe to my stories about artisans that go out every Wednesday. You can do so at
    But no matter, I am just happy to meet virtually some of you, and hope you’ll stop by the shop when you’re in Charleston!

  3. kim says

    Susan is a very inspiring woman. I did not know about IBU and now I will follow them and her. I love how she lives – gorgeous home and her style too, but especially love what she is doing for women. The great part of being older as she said is that we have time to change the world in our own way and we can all do a little something. Great advice. Love it Cindy.

  4. Jill says

    Susan is a such a stylish lady with a kind a generous heart . Her projects are so admirable and make such a difference to the lives of the women involved , The textiles she wears and dresses her home with are just wonderful.
    Thank you for introducing Susan and IBU to me.

  5. Heidi says

    Hi Cindy,
    Thank you for introducing me to Ibu. I guess I’m the only one left who didn’t know about this company and their amazing mission. Such lovely products, I found a few to put on my list! Susan has a great spirit, lovely smile and an awesome style! I love what she said about sharing our strengths and loves. Words to live by.
    XO Heidi

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Heidi
      I am so glad you enjoyed Susan. As Kim said it would sure be fun to do a girls trip to Charleston! One of my favorite cities!

  6. Francesca B. says

    Thank you for sharing Cindy. I have been a fan of IBU for a while now as I love the electic look and textiles in particular. just draw me in.
    Whta a wonderful interview thank you for sharing.Be well 🙂

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Francesca

      I had a feeling you were already familiar! I am so glad you enjoyed the interview!

  7. Mary Ann Pickett says

    Susan is beautiful inside and out and I love her home!
    “I won’t leave the house until I feel comfortable in my own skin.” Words to live by…I think I will go change my outfit before going to Trader Joe’s! But first I need to check out Susan’s IBU Collection!

  8. Jennifer Connolly says

    She is amazing!! I love everything about the clothing line and her style. Her home is simply drool-worthy too. Thanks for sharing Cindy…you find the best fashion to share with us!

  9. Elizabeth says

    What a beautiful and interesting interview with Susan. I love her style and her approach to life. IBU is a fabulous movement and place to shop for unique gifts and finds. I love seeing women empower other women! Thank you for sharing Cindy!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Elizabeth
      Susan is so refreshing isn’t she? And the IBU product line is wonderful!!

  10. LA CONTESSA says

    I KNOW IBU VERY WELL………I GET THE EMAILS and have purchased a few things!
    I ADORE ALI and cannot believe its been 50 YEARS since we all SAW LOVE STORY!
    I think I have shared my story how my young neighbor gave her a ride back home from a cafe she worked at in Santa Fe.HAVING NO IDEA WHO SHE WAS!MY neighbor was in school at the time and was having an ART SHOW.Guess who showed up and purchased one of her PAINTINGS!!!SO, from that STORY and just looking at HER YOU KNOW SHE IS A KIND WONDERFUL SOUL!

    • Lorna Dykstra says

      How very inspiring. I’ve visited the website and the workmanship of the items on sale is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.
      PS I love Ali. She still looks incredibly beautiful. Az

      • Cindy Hattersley says

        Hi Lorna

        We all love and respect Ali don’t we? She is such an inspiration. You will love the IBU line. It is wonderful!!

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