Repurposing T-Bags To Transform Lives

Original T Bag Designs was initiated by Jill Heyes who moved to South Africa in 1996 with her husband and daughters, she was shocked and overwhelmed by the abject poverty of the people living in settlement of Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay. Wanting to make a difference, she began teaching the women hand craft skills so they could make something to sell and support themselves financially. Word got out and more and more women came to learn, and the community of woman grew. After closure in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic the business was revived in late 2021 to recover lost jobs with the support of Chamäleon Reisen of Berlin and Karmal Books of Cape Town.

In October 2021 the recovery efforts finally started to bear fruit as the world was now on the recovery path and we were able to recover the first four jobs and bring meaningful employment to them. However, the journey is not complete as we continue on this recovery and growth journey. 

The T-Bag Designs workshop in Hout Bay employs people from the local townships to create a range of functional art decorated with recycled teabags. These unique products turn tea bags into works of art. We strive to create sustainable arts and crafts for homeware and decor.
The tea bags are dried, emptied, ironed then painted by the T-Bag Designs artists – each one is unique. These miniature works of art are then applied to stationery, wooden trays, coasters, fabric items, wall decor and more. This enterprise provides employment and stability for a group of previously disadvantaged people in the Hout Bay area.





Prior to the Global Pandemic the Original T-Bags team was 22 staff members strong and post pandemic it is our vision to recover some of these lost jobs and get more former staff employed and trained. We intend on offering a skills development training program for staff and local young adults. This way we will be able to start changing lives from one tea bag at a time. We have so far managed to recover three or the fomer staff jobs and are seeking to increase that number as we recover or offering and grew with your continued support