Tiny Miracles: A design-led initiative for a cause
Created in collaboration with award-winning Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop — to help break the chains of poverty — the products are simple but striking
Tiny Miracles is a Mumbai-and-Amsterdam-based foundation and social enterprise, which is founded on the basis of social procurement — encouraging organisations to use their buying power to generate social value, which in turn results in more financially independent communities.
Through stakeholder capitalism, Tiny Miracles believes that we, as a civilisation, can tackle the biggest challenge — inequality and poverty.
They strongly believe in the impact of this method which, according to them, is the answer to helping people break out of the poverty cycle.
One of the main differences in Tiny Miracles’ approach is that it is a design-led initiative. Tiny Miracles works with the Pardeshi community in Mumbai, and upskills the women of this community especially, teaching them to create a selection of contemporary products that combine the use of simple easy-to-train techniques (such as hand-folding and stitching), and sustainable resources (such as paper and scrap leather). Created in collaboration with award-winning Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop, the products are simple but striking. Handcrafted by unskilled people who’ve been left behind by society, the products are a means to a larger ambition: to create life-changing opportunities for people. Wherever possible, the communities are taught the value of using recycled materials, and they learn to appreciate how household waste can be transformed into works of art.
Most of the women in the Pardeshi communities need to collect drinking water and bring it home every day. They use matkas to carry this water. Tiny Miracles asked them to bring in their old matkas in exchange for new ones. Through the ingenuity of Pepe Heykoop, the design team figured out a way to use discarded scraps of leather and these old, dented matkas were transformed into trendy products that are true to the communities in which they are made, while looking right at home in design-forward settings.
Leather ClockLike households all across Mumbai, the women in the Tiny Miracles communities pack lunches for their families in dabbas. These iconic round metal boxes are instantly recognisable anywhere in India. Pepe and the Tiny Miracles design team used scrap leather, and placed easily-sourced clock mechanics into the dabbas to create stylish clocks that pay homage to one of the true icons of Mumbai city — the dabba.
Inspired by old metal industrial lamps, these chic leather lampshades are designed for use in homes and are also a great choice for hotels and interior design projects. They’re currently seen in a few gorgeously designed hotels around the world. They are made with lambskin (a byproduct of the meat industry) imported from New Zealand and stitched by the more enterprising members of the Tiny Miracles communities.
Paper Folded Vase Covers
Empty bottles can be repurposed with Tiny Miracles’ paper vase covers that fit easily over any bottle, to make it stylish and reusable. Hand-folded and stitched within the Tiny Miracles communities, these paper covers are not just aesthetically beautiful but also useful and sustainable. Placed over an empty bottle, they make excellent vases, and can be rolled down to fit different bottle sizes.
The paper vase covers are hand folded by the women of Tiny Miracles. Their unique triangular paper design ensures easy assembly in under a minute. They are made of coated paper and come in a wide range of prints and colours.
Paper Folded Lamps
Simplicity meets sophistication in this folded lampshade. Its innovative design allows a flat folded paper construction to unfold like a flower into a beautiful lampshade, which can be used with any existing hanging fixture. They are wonderful on their own but even more striking in a colourful group assembly.
Paper Folded Clock
Time to rethink the clock. The Tiny Miracles Paper Clock is made by folding one long strip of thick paper and transforming it into a beautiful, round shape. It is easy for unskilled community members to learn how to make, while also being a work of art — and telling the time!
In keeping with Tiny Miracles’ commitment to social change through design, to date, they have partnered with many well-known brands across Europe, including Rituals Cosmetics, Heineken, Rijks Museum and KLM airlines to mention a few. They have created a robust set up where they have the capacity to handle large volumes and scale, while ensuring they maintain high quality. In 2022 alone they made over 2 million bags for Rituals Cosmetics.
It’s just good business
Today, Tiny Miracles has impacted 10,000 people in and around Mumbai. They are now looking to reach scale in communities — they are currently working with eight communities in and around Mumbai and will be aiming to double that number by the end of next year beyond the current regions. Through trial and error, they have developed an innovative community-based approach with a vision to eradicate poverty for one million people by 2030.
Tiny Miracles – it’s not charity – it’s just good business