Educated at a school which championed outdoor living and imaginative play, designer Tessa Graham has turned those ideas into a new line of South African made toys. With sales on the up, at home and abroad, we met the mother and son behind this story of challenge and hope.

With the birth of her son, Sam, in 2019 and after experiencing the global pandemic of 2020, Tessa saw a need for toys to be created and manufactured in South Africa. As  most of our country’s toys were being imported from abroad, Tessa had a strong desire to keep things local and help support and employ South Africans. Through this need and passion, she created Envirokid. 

Envirokid specialises in designing and manufacturing toys for children that encourage both creative and outdoor play. The brand tries their best to use raw environmentally conscious materials with most of their designs consisting of a combination of woods, leathers and steels to create durable products made to last.

From her own schooling experience, Tessa developed a deeper understanding of the value of encouraging creative, outdoor and imaginative play especially in younger children. At Envirokid, they hope that their designs can inspire creativity and curiosity in young minds. The main influence behind the business was Sam, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

“It’s really important for children with Cystic Fibrosis to be physically active to keep their lungs clear and healthy, so I think that has been a big influence for my toys – to keep Sam outdoors,” says Tessa. Having studied industrial design, Tessa first sketches each toy, chooses materials, renders it in 3D, makes the prototype and designs the artwork and packaging.

“The first product I made was a little bug box and I think it just took me back to my childhood. Being outdoors and finding interesting little creatures that you can observe and engage with before returning them back to the garden,” she explains. 

After the creation of the bug box, they began developing other products that encouraged outdoor play including flower presses, rope kits, and many more. Supporting this young business woman all the way have been her father, her husband Charles, and her financial partner, Capitec.

“I chose to bank with Capitec about ten years ago. I am quite a money conscious person so I always check all the numbers and I did all the calculations and I realised that it was a lot cheaper to go with a transactional account with a small monthly fee,” she says. 

Young Sam can rightly be proud of his mom who was approached by The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront, wanting to stock her locally made toys. It’s one among many outlets now interested.

“Our products have been received really well in all our stockists but it’s been really nice to see how well they’ve been received in person at the Waterfront and getting response from customers firsthand,” says Tessa. 

Where life saw Tessa need to set her career to one side, a new journey has allowed her to express the full range of her skills.


If you have a plan to live better and work more creatively, tell us about it to stand a chance of winning a R1000. Simply reply to the competition post on The Insider SA’s social media platforms using #CapitecLiveBetter. Ts&Cs apply and can be found on The Insider SA website.



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