Founded: 2011 by Tracey Chiappini-Young and Karen Jansen

Sector: Social Enterprise

Location: Cape Town South Africa

Website: http://taunina.com/


Taunina produces unique handcrafted collectable soft toys operating with an emphasis on socially conscious consumption, caring for the environment and improving the lives of the underprivileged. Taunina was co-founded by Tracey Chiappini-Young and Karen Jansen in 2011. Taunina's soft toys are made by a small group of predominantly female artists, all of whom come from troubled and disadvantaged backgrounds, many of them former refugees. Every soft toy produced is one of a kind and hand finished, and each comes with its own passport which tells the "making of" story as well as the story of the artist who created it. The name Taunina combines the African word 'tau', meaning 'lion', with NINA, an acronym for 'No Income, No Assets'. Taunina artists share in the profits generated by the business, giving those who were once without income and assets the opportunity to become lions of their own destiny.

Sustainable Luxury

The idea of Sustainable Luxury is central to the way Taunina operates. It is the belief that sustainable development and luxury are not incompatible, and that the new essence of luxury cares about society and the environment, prides itself on being socially conscious and ethically responsible, and is committed to preserving natural resources and to improving the lives of impoverished individuals and communities- "Taunina is sustainable luxury".

Caring for the Environment

Taunina's commitment to environmental responsibility begins with the product itself, which by its very nature as a high quality, unique, collectable item will not be found filling up landfills alongside mass-produced readily disposable gifts and purchases. This commitment further extends to the packaging of its products, which come in beautiful and re-usable hat boxes that can be used as a practical storage container in a bedroom or nursery. Taunina is also very selective in its choice of business partners, striving to source material only from suppliers with eco-friendly business practices. Finally in its logistical choices Taunina encourages purchasers to buy soft toys that are waiting in their nearest region reducing the carbon footprint associated with delivery.

Improving the lives of the underprivileged

Taunina provides its artists with the support and market access they need to make a living, using skills many of them learned at an early age. The artists are actively involved as business partners, sharing in the success of the business. The artists receive a steady income (vs. piece rate pay) in the form of wages that are significantly higher than market-related salaries. In addition, they receive 30% of the before-tax profits of the company: 20% through the Bear Essentials Fund (which contributes towards the housing, healthcare and education of their families) and 10% in the form of productivity-related cash bonus payments. All of Taunina's artists have been provided with ongoing life-skills training, including:

Livelihood skills: hands-on vocational skills of stitching, embroidery, and appliqué to enable the creation of high-quality toys from designs; and

Literacy skills: financial literacy skills and business management skills to empower artists to effectively gain access to and use financial services.

Furthermore, funds are being put towards improving housing conditions for the artists and their families, on a need-by-need basis. Children are also receiving funding towards their education: from tuition fees to books.

The Bear Essentials Fund

Through the Bear Essentials fund, 20% of Taunina's pre-tax profits are contributed to the housing, healthcare and education of Taunina artists and their families. Many of the artists are former refugees who have come to South Africa from countries like Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many have had limited educational opportunities or have had little chance to secure a proper education for their children. They live in rudimentary makeshift houses with basic sanitation and often no electricity, and many of them are the sole breadwinners providing for their children and extended families.


Physical Address
To visit our studio call
+27 (0)21 461 7719
Unit 303, Third Floor
Fairweather House
176 Sir Lowry Road
Woodstock, Cape Town
South Africa, 7925

Postal Address
Unit 303, Third Floor
Fairweather House
176 Sir Lowry Road
Cape Town
South Africa

+27 (0)21 461 7719
+1 646 761 8621

+27 86 502 9295


Website: http://taunina.com/