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Jill Heyes – Founding Member
Bachelor of Education (B Ed), former Art Teacher in mainstream primary education for 20 years and 4 years community work. Jill often tells visitors that “she never meant this to happen”! She never dreamed that something that started in a garden shed in a friend’s garden would turn into a seven day a week business! As the business has grown so have her responsibilities that are so many and varied that it’s almost too hard to list!! Jill oversees all of the day to day activities and is the warm friendly face that most visitors to the workshop see when they arrive.

Nomakhwezi Medica Zilwa – Stock and Dry Production
Has been working with Jill since the very beginning has painted (literally!) thousands of tea bags. She has grown from being quite & timid, to a self-assured, immaculate artist with a beautiful smile who contributes much vocally at T-Bags. She is a single parent with two children; her oldest child, Siyauuya, is attending the brand new Disa Primary in Hout Bay. It was quite an acalade to be chosen for this as the places were very limited. Her son will obtain a good education at this school. Medica’s wish is to one day purchase a house. She would also like to continue with her studies as she was trying to attain a qualification in accounting. Watching how Medica has blossomed who knows where and what she will be doing in 5 years time.

Gracious Dube – Production, Sewing and Retail

Gracious and her family (five brothers, one sister) left the turmoil in Zimbabwe in 2001 when their thriving business was ransacked during the political instability leading up to and after national government elections. One of the things Gracious missed about home in Zimbabwe was her church. In Hout Bay, she found Valley Church where the friendly church members also spoke English. (In Zimbabwe, she spoke Shona and English). It was at Valley Church that Gracious met a friend of Jill’s who brought her to the Original T-Bags Designs workshop. Her job at Original T-Bag Designs has changed her life by enabling help her family that remain in Zimbabwe. Gracious wants one day to enrol in a Business Management course through UNISA. She will work at Original T-Bags during the day and study at night. Her plan for the future is to be able to help her mother financially and one day return home to Zimbabwe. After learning to sew, here at Original T-Bag Designs, Gracious has designed various bags that we sell now sell for her in our outlets. Gracious has a son called Dion who attends Kronendal Primary School which Gracious pays for using the funds generated from her bags.

Tumekile Vava (T-Man) – Production
T-man came from the Eastern Cape where his 4 sisters and 4 brothers still live. He worked as a gardener when he first came to Cape Town. He helped convert a barren piece of land into a beautiful park and continues to care for it one day a week. For the rest of the week he works at Original T-Bags. He sends money back to his family as well as supporting his own family of a wife and three children. He is a very important member of the team as he is ‘Mr Quality Control’. He is in charge of the Corking Department and this is the last stage of production for quite a few of our products. He has a good eye for mistakes and so is our unofficial quality controller who maintains our high standards. All of the team listen to him as he is the oldest member of the production team. He is affectionately called ‘Damkulu’ (Granddad). In his spare time he has brought together and trained The Sinothando Gospel choir, 14 amazing singers who, amongst other things, perform for weddings at a local guest house-Tulani Lodge.

Nomphelo Mavis Bambalaza – Retail and Production
Mavis lives in Nyanga. She was introduced to Original Tea Bag Designs by her elder sister Donnah who no longer works for us as she has gone on to greater things. Mavis worked just at our Blue Shed Stall at the V & A Waterfront in the beginning but felt she needed to spend some time with the production team so she now works two days a week in the workshop. A good decision as she is very quick!! She has one daughter Sazona. One day she would like to be a beauty therapist and hairstylist and have her own business.
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Peggy Pretty Mongwe – Retail and Production
Peggy grew up in the rural area of Limpopo but came to Cape Town in 2004 to look for work. When she started to work at Original T-Bag Designs she was very shy and unsure of herself but her confidence grew and Peggy is now our best retail assistant. Never a month goes by without her being paid sales commission on top of her monthly salary. Her shrill laugh and irresistible smile works wonders and she always goes out of her way to help customers. When she is at the workshop she enjoys giving visitors tours of production and catching up with ‘the team”. Peggy feels blessed to be part of ‘The T-Bags Team’ and loves meeting people from different countries. She likes working with her hands and when she was a girl, she paid for her own school fees by plaiting hair. Peggy is very proud of her one beautiful daughter. Peggy’s dream is to become a model. Her beauty and bubbly personality would certainly enhance any catwalk. We struggle now to recognise the Peggy who joined us all those years ago!!

Towanda Russell Chitanda – Production Manager
Russell, like Gracious, left Zimbabwe during the time of the troubles around the government elections. He is a qualified school teacher who loved to teach art. Having worked his way through the ranks here to become our Production Manager he knows all there is to know about making our products and may, one day, be able to start a branch of Original T-Bag Designs in Zimbabwe. If you go to one of our outlets and see sail boats made of drift wood these will be Russell’s that he makes in his spare time to earn a little extra cash. Russell is difficult to miss as he is very tall and has a very wide smile. He and his wife have one son.

Rachel Museriri – Sewing and Retail
Rachel is a Zimbabwean who left during the troubles around the time of the elections. She was initially employed as a cleaner and tea lady. At times when there was little to do she would help out wherever she could and soon showed us that her talent was wasted being our cleaning lady!! She is now the ‘Star Seamstress’ of our sewing department. Rachel purchased her own machine and, amongst many other things, makes her own design of bag which we sell in our outlets.

Phil Dillon – Accountant
Phil joined the team in September of 2010 and has really put us on an even keel! Originally from Ireland, Phil has a vast working experience in many fields. As we grow from strength to strength her wise advice is an essential part of us being a successful business. Not just a ‘number cruncher’ Phil was the ‘brains’ behind our Art Paper Pictures as it was her that gave us the idea of the 1 & 3 Bird Pictures.
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Akona Lucy Rafu – Sewing and Retail
Lucy came to us with a group of young ladies when we were struggling to fill a large order for Christmas Decorations. We were offering only temporary positions but when the task was complete we decided to offer her a full time position. During her time here she completed her matric certificate and we could see that she was good with figures. We have since trained her to do some data capturing which she is very proficient at. Lucy has also become a competent sewer in the last year.

Sharon Burrows – Sewing Department
Sharon came to know of Original T-Bag Designs when she was asked to make Jill’s daughter’s wedding dress. She is an award winning dress maker who kindly offered to help us out. Our sewing department was in its very early days and it is thanks to her efforts that our fabric lines are now so successful. She has patiently taught quite a few of our ladies to sew and two of them now make their own bags which we sell for them in our outlets.

Nosiphiwo Thethi– Production and Retail
Nozi is one of our newer members of staff. She was relieved to get a position with us as she had been working in the toll booths on Chapman’s Peak Drive which she found very scary when she had to work a night shift. It takes about a year for a new member of staff to learn all the skills needed to make our products. She has become very proficient in all she does and we have high hopes for her in the future. Her cash handling experience means that she can work in our Mainstream Shop for a couple of days each month.

Nomsa Mzukwa – Production and Retail
Nomsa, has been with Original T-Bag Designs since 2000. She has been able to buy a house because of the extra money she earned through painting T-Bags. She provides for her three children and elderly mother. Sivu, the oldest daughter, who has been sponsored to do a two year business and accounting course, Sinazo, who is working at her church crèche whilst gaining training in child care. Snazo is hoping to resume her schooling when the family have the money and Avuyile, Nomsa’s son, is doing very well at Kronendal primary. Nomsa’s tea bags are just delightful, its amazing that years ago she thought she would never be able to do it! Nomsa is very talented in production as she works very well with the resin used on the Coasters, Trays and Boxes. She spends most of her time though in our Mainstream shop in Hout Bay as she is also very good with customers. Nomsa says her vision for the future is to help Jill run the business. As ” T-bags” grows, so will she.


Bukelwa Khathali-Production Assistant
Bukwela was recruited from Izoko lo lwazi to Original T-Bag Designs. Late 2014, Izoko Lo Iwazi experienced problems producing their handmade paper we use for our products. Bukwela took initiative and starting making our paper for us. Even though she is a quiet and modest woman, she proved to be very capable when she took over the paper making all by herself. Bukwela is now being trained to work in the sewing department. She is a proud mother of two.

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Denise Anthony-Sewing Department
Denise became part of our team in 2013. Prior to us she worked as a machinist in a clothing factory. Using these skills she now works in our sewing room. Denise is our mother hen here at Original T-Bag designs. She has three children and is a grandmother to twelve children. Denise loves to socialize and enjoys the company of others.
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Kathleen Hill-Part Time Production Assistant
Kathleen is responsible for the beginning stages of our marine and heart collection. She splits, irons, and paints the background color of teabags. Despite a disability, Kathleen is always positive and smiling. She is a loving mother to one son and two daughters. When she is not working she enjoys attending church and watching television.