Muhayo Aliyeva watched her two older sisters get swept into arranged marriages at an early age, bear children in quick succession; one sister physically abused at home, the other not allowed to work outside of it.  Determined to find a different path, Muhayo sought out mentors. She used her work experience at the US Embassy in Tashket, Uzbekistan, to help her understand foreign markets.  She took field trips with a textile researcher from America and learned the secrets of ikat - an ancient textile tradition unique to her area which, through a many-stepped intricate process, creates highly expressive, colorful designs we’ve come to crave.

Muhayo started a company in her mother’s garage. She now employs nine women, including her sisters and her niece, who harbors high ambitions for a business of her own.

A dozen others she trained have moved on to different international posts. Her story hums with women’s voices finding their strength in one another, growing from garage studio to global stage.

I met Muhayo in Santa Fe and later New York, and fell for her warm smile as well as her stunning designs. And her story of the path that appears when you refuse to travel the one that is not yours. I wear that promising story each time I take a twirl in one of her ravishing, hand-loved jackets . . . wondering where this path will lead us all.

Muyaho’s hand-tied, dyed and woven ikats are sewn by her sister into these lovely affairs. Find these and more colors at ibu.