Last Sunday, in the segment called The Week That Was, I reported that Rooibos tea has made it big as a drink in the global giant Starbucks and is featured as an extremely popular Rooibos latte.
The global domination of Rooibos continues with an amazing story that started right here in Cape Town and is now the must-have fashion item in Paris.
The Zimbabwean-born, 33-year old mother from Hout Bay in Cape Town, Gracious Dube, has transformed the humble teabag into a sought-after fashion accessory in Paris.
Her designer purses were originally spotted at the V & A Waterfront by French Designer, Carine Khalil, while she was holidaying in South Africa. They’ve taken this unique product to Paris where it now sells for about 26 Euros.
To make her fashionable purses and bags, which are lined with silk, Dube starts off by drying and ironing about 50 Rooibos teabags. Once done, they are varnished and either glued or carefully stitched onto the silk.
Some purses are also decoratively painted to add to the unique look.
Gracious says she loves drinking Rooibos and that it was while she was drinking a cup that she came up with the idea of creating a purse from the tea bags. She did try other tea bags but the Rooibos tea bags were ideal. Not only did they give the purses a beautiful rich colour but they also tended to be stronger than other tea bags according to her.
Gracious Dube joined a company called Original T-Bag Designs when she arrived in Cape Town. One that was started 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.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) said Dube’s products were exquisite. They are delighted to see the tea bags being upcycled and given a second life.
The concept of painting on or using tea bags in fashion is truly unique and forces artists to work on a canvas that is already imprinted with odd colours and textures.
Gracious Dube has also been commissioned to make lampshades and baskets which are equally big sellers.
This story encompasses so many things I love. It’s rags-to-riches, it’s creative, it’s about recycling and it’s building lives and a community.
Well done to Gracious Dube and Original Tea Bag Designs. You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m off to have a cup of tea.