Lady maker series: Jen Fleischer of Ibu Textiles
A weekly interview series of creative women building community, establishing brands and changing the game.
I first met Jen when I blindly signed up for a tapestry weaving class for beginners. I’m all about those blind first time crafting dates…the less you know, the better! Since then, I’ve loved watching Jen grow her business while staying true to her art. Jen’s interview reminded me that in a world that’s telling us to “scale up, grow, adapt, go faster!,” the most important thing can sometimes be to just go back to the beginning…and remember why you started.
What does a typical week look like for you?
Each week is different. Sometimes I’ll be crazed and other weeks it’ll be calm. I try to devote time each day to both administrative work and weaving. I make it a goal to finish at least one piece a week - whether it’s a wall hanging or a necklace. In ways, my schedule also varies based on the time of year. spring and holidays tend to be busier so that is when I focus more on craft fairs. I use the downtime to build up stock. As for classes, I typically host at least three or four a month. I would love to teach more in the future and work on hosting private events. Just a heads up if anyone is interested!
You just had your gallery debut, congratulations! Tell us about it…
First, off - thank you! I just had my gallery debut at the Greenpoint Gallery in Brooklyn. It was a one night only group show. I was able to showcase my pieces in a different way to the viewer. One of my goals for this year is to expand and try showing my work as pieces of art. I’m continuing to apply to galleries and hopefully will have more shows in the future.
What's next for Ibu?
I’m hoping to take Ibu Textiles outside of the city. I’ll be doing Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philly this May. It’ll be my first fair outside the five boroughs! I would also love to teach more workshops and try for more gallery shows. It’s important to keep learning and growing as an artist so I’ll be heading to New Mexico over the summer to learn about Navajo weaving. I’m crazy excited about that!
What is your DREAM for company?
My dream for Ibu Textiles is to keep it small so each piece I make, is done with love and care. I’m not trying to conquer the world with a big brand! My true love is weaving so it’s important that I don’t venture too far from that. It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I’m a weaver at heart.
Tell us how you initially got into textile work. Did you always envision working for yourself and owning your own company?
Surprisingly, my journey into textiles came later in life. After I graduated college, I was working all sorts of odd jobs. My stepfather recommended I meet his friend Gretchen, a professional weaver in Connecticut. I ended up taking an apprenticeship with her and absolutely fell in love! We were working on floor looms so I dove right in and learned all the ins and outs of weaving and textiles. I was addicted and there was no choice but to buy my own loom! It was around that time that I taught myself tapestry weaving and in ways, found that more rewarding. Organically, it made sense to try selling my work. Owning a business was not what I envisioned when I was younger and I consider myself more of an artist than a businesswoman. Though tough at times, its been rewarding in ways I couldn’t imagine. Knowing my work is going to a loving home makes me incredibly happy and it’s offered me opportunities such as teaching and collaborating with other artists.
I'm always excited to see the partnerships or collab events you have going on. What has the journey been like for you with working with other creatives?
Collaborations, my favorite! That’s been a highlight for me on this journey I’ve taken. I’ve worked with printers, leather artists, macramé artists among others. Currently, I’m working with Sandra of Key & Arrow Designs on some leather bags with woven details. I’m excited and hopefully we’ll debut the project this spring. Other artists give you a different perspective on your work and it helps you grow. You should always be learning and trying to get better. It’s also wonderful to have the support and encouragement from other local creatives. Having a community of like-minded individuals is so important.