Gifts Made From Rooibos Tea Bags

Gracious Dube (33) from Hout Bay (Cape Town) has always had an eye for fashion

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But never did she think her handmade purses from Rooibos tea bags would one day be sold as a hot fashion accessory in Paris –  the fashion capital of the world. Our On The Flipside host, Nadia Hearn chats to Gracious, have a listen below:

Growing up in Harare (Zimbabwe), a career as an artist wasn’t encouraged by her parents, but when she moved to South Africa and got involved with a company called, Original T-Bag Designs in 2006, her creativity took flight.

Original T-Bag Designs is a company that started out as a social responsibility project by founder, Jill Heyes, to help impoverished women from Imizamo Yethu (an informal settlement in Hout Bay) to earn money, by making unique arts and crafts from tea bags and boxes. Heyes – a former art teacher – trained Dube in various art mediums and encouraged her to trial new product ideas as a way to boost her income.

Whilst holidaying in South Africa, French fashion designer, Carine Khalil – who focuses on upcycling products – was intrigued by Dube’s eye-catching tea bag purses, which she spotted at the V&A Waterfront.Kahlil has since worked with Dube on recreating her Rooibos purse for the Paris market, which sells for €26 at Ithemba Design Ethik – a top fashion and decor boutique – owned by Kahlil.

Dube says the experience of working with Khalil has been awe-inspiring. “Khalil knows the ins and the outs of the fashion business and has given me lots of advice to help me grow my business.” To make her fashionable purses, which are lined with silk, Dube starts off by drying and ironing about 45 to 50 Rooibos tea bags. Once done, the tea bags are varnished and either glued or carefully stitched onto the silk. Some purses are also decoratively painted to add to the unique look.

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