Businesses we love

Tugu Designs

Lhakpa came with her family to Australia from Tibet on a refugee visa in 2009.

Due to the poor provision of education for children in Tibet, Lhakpa didn’t learn how to read and write until she was 20, after she had escaped from Tibet to India for a better life.

It was also there that she learnt how to use a sewing machine while working at a local factory, making traditional dresses and robes for monks.

After arriving in Australia she needed to find a job. It wasn’t an easy time. Then she saw a market stall where handmade toys were sold. This gave her an idea. “I could do this,” she thought.

Through the Stepping Stones program run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Lhakpa explored how she could use her sewing skills to develop a small business. The program provided her with skills in developing financial literacy.

Her business is called Tugu Designs – tugu is the word for children in the Tibetan language. Lhakpa hand-sews children’s toys using recycled material and natural fibres. Many of her toys depict Australian animals, and are simple and beautiful in design.

Today, MWIB is working with Lhakpa to support her in moving away from market stalls to selling her beautiful products online.  You’ll be able to find her creations at

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