At Tomy, women are at the heart of everything we do. From our ongoing commitment to donate a portion of every Tomy sale to support women and girls in South Africa, to our female-driven business spotlights. This December, we are spotlighting 12 inspiring female-led businesses as a part of our 12 Days Of Gifting contest taking place on social media.
This festive season, Tomy would like to challenge you to gift local and show your support for these 12 amazing women-led brands below:
Passionate about creating a sustainable future and empowering women, Newcastle-born Ntombi Mabaso founded Handpicked Retro Baskets during the COVID-19 lockdown. Mabaso and her majority female team create each piece with love, modernising traditional techniques with bright colours and bold designs. Offering a variety of storage baskets, picnic baskets, hats, and placemats to local businesses, furniture shops, and interior decorators, Handpicked Woven Basket’s products naturally enrich any space they fill.
At Suikerbos, Grethe’s hand-drawn sketches are the starting point for every jewellery piece. Each creative design captures the beautiful shapes and elegant lines found in nature. After putting pencil to paper, her small women-driven team set to work. From a studio in Simonstown, they transform her art into delicate jewellery pieces made of brass and stainless steel, perfect for nature enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates a bit of whimsy and handcrafted artistry. Grethe is always looking for a new challenge and can’t wait to delve deeper into the weird and wonderful world of plants through her artistic creations.
Since 2019, Carlita Hearts has been spreading joy and creativity with playful greeting cards, calendars, art prints, stationery, and more. Founder Carla Sissing, a Cape Town chartered accountant by day and self-taught artist by night, hand paints delightful watercolour creations and then carefully digitises them into whimsical stationery and gifts. As a one-woman show, Carla wears many hats – artist, social media manager, shipping executive, and customer support. Her love for art translates into all her pieces that truly inspire joy.
After focussing on corporate life and subsequently running her own marketing agency, the COVID-19 lockdown inspired Melissa to rekindle her love for pottery. Through Passion Fruit Ceramics, Melissa discovered a renewed solace and creativity in shaping clay, sharing her love for pottery with others through a collection of unique earthenware and stoneware pieces, including vessels, vases, votives, coffee mugs, and tableware.
Operating from Morningside, Durban, Casey Jeanne’s business creates exquisite luxury candles, meticulously hand-poured using a premium blend of natural soy and coconut wax and infused with fine fragrance scents. From the opulent frosted glass vessels to the intricately designed gold foiled packaging, every aspect of Lumiére’s candles exudes luxury and meticulous attention to detail. They’re not only perfect for gifting but also serve as elegant display pieces.
Driven by a passion for slow fashion and sustainable production, proudly Kokstad-born, Germaine Jacobs founded Spases in 2018. Currently based in Durban, Germaine and her all-women team meticulously handcraft homeware and original bags using African textiles. From their limited-edition bags inspired by Mali’s mud cloth and the Baule scatter collection with Ivory Coast textiles – each piece celebrates handmade craftsmanship and shares rich origin stories. In future, the Spases team plan to expand globally, to bring African designs to homes and boutiques around the world.
The unique and innovative products of Ritual Natural Soap came about when founder Christie Holt, a Canadian artisan based in Ballito, was building a coffee trailer with her husband. The project inspired Christie to look for ways to minimise the environmental impact of single-use practices prevalent in the coffee industry. With the desire to contribute to a sustainable future, Christie uses repurposed coffee grounds and natural ingredients to create her handmade and toxin-free soaps. Christie is determined to expand Ritual’s reach nationwide and make it a part of people’s daily lives to make a long-term difference.
Happi Llama Kids: Authentic African Designs for Kids and Adults
Happi Llama is a South African fashion brand that fuses contemporary patterns with traditional African prints. B-Tech Fashion graduate, Gugulethu Quwe, founded Happi Llama in 2016 and aims to make accessible fashion for parents to share and celebrate their African heritage with their children. Together with her small team of tailors and seamstresses, Quwe one day hopes to also venture into creating educational kids’ content, to take a deeper look into the history of African people and encourage the use of indigenous languages in the classroom.
Established in 2020 by business owner Genevieve Buttery, Saint Vieve’s casual wear embraces easy living with a range of handmade sleepwear, loungewear, and resort wear proudly made in Durban. Perfect for beach trips, pyjama days, and everywhere in between, the collection focuses on using natural, breathable fabrics. From the pattern and sample makers to a factory team of mostly women, the business is driven predominantly by women. Saint Vieve takes the art of easy living seriously, offering a feminine and comfortable line that seamlessly blends style and relaxation.
M’hudi Wine Bar: A Family-Driven Business
Rae-Leigh Adonis, a wine connoisseur from Cape Town, established M’hudi Wine Bar in 2021 as an extension of her family’s wine farm, M’hudi Wines. This unique venue transitions from a wine-tasting room by day to an entertainment lounge by night, catering to young professionals seeking a vibrant atmosphere to unwind after a long week. The bar’s signature premium wine brand features five exceptional varietals, and, with its focus on live music every Saturday evening, free entry, ample outdoor space, and a commitment to safety, M’hudi Wine Bar stands out as a premier destination for relaxation and entertainment. Rae-Leigh’s vision for the future is to transform M’hudi Wine Bar into a fully operational bistro, welcoming families from across the globe to experience the perfect blend of premium wines, delectable cuisine, and exceptional hospitality.
Chilli Chocolate Chefs dishes out gourmet catering, blending tradition and innovation. Founded by sisters Zainab and Faatimah Paruk in 2010, the duo turned their culinary passion into a business, creating recipe books, an online cookie range, and a daily sale menu, with almost twenty members on their team. With roots in Durban, their business mirrors the region’s diverse flavours, while its name reflects their personalities – one feisty and spicy, and one extra sweet. Chilli Chocolate Chefs is the delectable choice for those who appreciate the art of exquisite food crafted with the freshest ingredients.
Home-Artist is a Durban-based, furniture and décor studio that is inspired by the Bantu way of life. The female-driven team aims to enhance spaces through expressions of culture, history, art, architecture and life. Each piece showcases long-lasting, natural materials that are unexpected but familiar; an articulation of the past expressed in the present. Moving forward, the team plans to expand by growing the Home-Artist catalogue and opening at least one physical store.
Are you planning to support any of the female-led businesses above? Comment on this blog post and let us know.
Wait, there’s more! We’ll be giving away a product from each of the above female-led businesses over 12 days (as well as a few pairs of Tomys) from 1-12 December for our 12 Days of Gifting competition. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss out on the chance to win one of these 12 amazing gifts.
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