We South Africans love Rooibos tea, but do we love it enough to tote it around with us? You bet we do! Forget drinking the stuff, now Rooibos lovers can also carry an ode to their favourite tea on the arm with them wherever they go! Yes indeed, local designer, Gracious Dube, has been creating purses upcycled from Rooibos teabags and they’re all the rage right now in Paris.

Gracious Dube never thought that her designs would be sold as a sought-after accessory in the fashion capital of the world but after being spotted by French fashion designer, Carine Khalil, these unique handbags made from upcycled Rooibos tea bags have now become a must-have item at Paris-based boutique, Ithemba Design Ethik.

The bags were originally created as part of a range for local company, T-Bag Designs which started out as a project to help impoverished women from Imizamo Yethu (an informal settlement in Hout Bay and also Dube’s hometown). Dube was encouraged to test new product ideas to increase her income and the tea bag handbag was born.gracious dube teabag purse

The purses retail for €26 at Ithemba Design Ethik and following the success of the bags, Dube was also been commissioned to create a lampshade and a basket from teabags, which are equally big sellers in the store.

The unique purses are made by dying and ironing about 45 – 50 Rooibos tea bags, which are then varnished and glued or stitched into the silk lining. Some purses are also decoratively painted adding to the totally unique factor. Rooibos teabags are ideal to use as they give the purses a gorgeous colour, and also tend to be stronger than other teabags.
gracious dube teabag purse

Other artists from Original T-Bag Designs also used donated, recycled teabags to create anything you can possibly think of, out of what is essentially papier-mâché: animal sculptures, trays, notebooks, dolls, paintings, soap, fridge magnets, handbags and other decorative items.

Original T-Bag Designs accepts donations of teabags and boxes (preferably dried and emptied teabags), which can be dropped off at their location at the Kronendal, Main Road, Imizamo Yethu in Hot Bay, or alternatively, at their store at The Watershed at V&A Waterfront.

For more information about Gracious Dube and the other artists, visit the T-Bag Designs website

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