Dear T-Bag Supporter

We hope you and your families are safe as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times.

You will have heard us refer to a famous quote – “A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. Our business and team have certainly been put through hot water over the years and we’ve always managed to find a way to survive and grow through it. The hot water we and the rest of the world currently find ourselves in, is challenging us in ways we could never have imagined as we welcomed in a new decade just a few months ago.

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we have made the decision to close our doors at Original T-Bag Designs. We are exploring ways to offer our twenty team members support in this time and will of course assist them as much as we can in finding new employment.

Over the years we have explored and deeply considered the option of turning the business into a charity, with the ability to accept donations. However, we have always come back and remained faithful to the vision on which Original T-Bag Designs was born some twenty years ago – to upskill, empower and create employment for those living in poverty in Hout Bay, Cape Town. Whilst we know and regret that the next chapter is not going to be an easy one for our team, we believe we have achieved what we set out to do, by equipping them in the best way we know how, in the hope and belief that they’re resiliently able to land on their feet in the coming months and year, whilst continuing to provide for themselves and their families.

Thinking back to our humble beginnings – teaching a small group of unemployed women how to make crafts in a church hall, to where we are today – employing a team of twenty and offering a world-class product and tourist destination – we are so incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made as a business with your support, but most importantly, grateful for the transformation in the lives of our team members and their families. Through their employment and their earning a decent wage, through training and education programs, and through career progression, we have seen them grow in confidence, hope, communication and leadership skills.

Original T-Bag Designs has created the opportunity for team members to build, own, or maintain houses, take charge of their personal finances and debt, travel overseas for the first time and set up entrepreneurial ventures to create additional income streams. We have walked alongside our t-bag family through the highs and lows, for example, as fire has ravaged its way through the neighbouring Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and has taken all of their possessions. Yet  they have saved and proudly sent their children off to schools that have provided a joy and education-filled start to the next generation. We have celebrated with those who have moved on and excelled in new roles and ventures. We have also been fortunate to partner and support other social enterprises and charities within our community such as the The Group of Hope, Noah and Growing Paper.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the momentous and unwavering support of you, our T-Bag community. From special friends and family who believed in our vision from the start and have generously given their time, resources and advice over the years, to the many tour guides who have brought visitors to see us. To the same visitors who have taken interest in our story and bought our products, and to those who have lovingly dried, sorted and posted used t-bags from all corners of the world. You have been an essential and critical element of the successes achieved – we could not have done this without you. Sharing this journey with you has been an incredible privilege and joy and we will forever be indebted to you for holding us up in times of adversity, and cheering us on in our proudest moments.

You will have also heard us say “Where there’s tea, there’s hope”, and so we trust that as you find comfort in your next cuppa, you will continue to be reminded of our story and the lives that have been changed. And that rather than sending us your used t-bags, you will make a beautiful compost – because Original T-Bags Designs is proof that from old things, comes new life.

For more information or if you are interested in purchasing products that have already been lovingly made, please reach out to us at info@originaltbagdesigns.co.za. For those based in the UK, you can continue to shop a selection of our products via Cape Vanilla based in Snettisham, Norfolk.

Thank you again for your incredible support and we wish you and your families well in this time.

Jill Heyes

Founder & CEO