Who knew that selling healthy muffins to make some extra cash to help get her through university would, one day, see Thandazani Zulu find a career and life in wellness?
Today, the 23-year-old is the owner of a KwaZulu-Natal-based catering company, Food by the Gift. Earlier this year she launched her first product, a range of cold-pressed juices she lovingly calls Nourish.
Zulu never envisioned Food by the Gift to become such a much-talked-about health brand. She has only just begun, but the future is looking bright.
“Honestly speaking, at first I thought it was just me trying to make a living but what inspired me to grow it was the business degree that I was pursuing at that time. I then started planning or painting a bigger picture for the business. We’ve slowly achieved some of the things. There’s still a very long way to go.”
The launch of Nourish
Like many other entrepreneurs, Zulu was hit by Covid-19. It forced her to think out of the box.
Zulu says Nourish was launched to differentiate Food by the Gift from many other catering companies out there. Her business aims to promote healthy living.
“We decided to collaborate with Dr Pretty Mkhize, a homeopath who treats individuals by using natural medicines without side effects. So, our products linked to what she does as they are organic, raw fruits and vegetables.”
Village girl with big dreams
Zulu hails from Kwesakwamthethwa, a rural area in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
The idea for her business was born when she experienced financial challenges as a first-year student. Despite the curveballs that came with life, giving up was never an option. “In order to be that successful woman I needed to put in some work.”
She now dreams of acquiring bigger business space and creating more jobs. “The number of people who approach us asking if we are hiring is high. I believe that the more staff we can get, the more the business could grow.”
In the next five years she hopes to run at least one or two eateries in Pietermaritzburg and Empangeni. “You can also expect more healthy products; city to city launches where we will be educating about healthy living and promoting our products.”
Zulu holds both a certificate and a degree in business administration and recently also obtained her BCom Honours from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. That is not all. Currently, she is also a student at the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, an initiative of the United States embassy in South Africa. Besides this, she serves as a board member for the South African School of Practical Skills and Life Design.