The business operates as a private catering company, but it can occasionally be found in food markets and festivals in the Western Cape (we’ll catch you there!). She tells GH writer Ondela Mlandu about the journey to get where she is today…
For Nolukhanyo Dube-Cele, food is a love language
Nolukhanyo Dube-Cele comes from a rural village called Tsengiwe in the Eastern Cape. She spent most of her schooling years in East London, then moved to Cape Town to complete her studies in Hospitality Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. During those three years, she acquired several academic awards and graduated among the top students of her class. After qualifying, she travelled for two years, living and working in the UK, Ascot and New York.
“From a young age, food was a language I understood and a way to comfortably express myself. My dreams have always been to create a global brand that can solve economic problems and heal the divisions in our country, and it was only natural for me to use food as a catalyst to solve the problems at hand,” says Nolukhanyo.
In July 2017, while managing a boutique hotel in Cape Town, she took the bold step to pursue her dream full-time. The vision: That through her Seven Colour Plate, she would be able to incorporate creativity, nostalgia, diversity and inspire a positive South African identity. And that’s exactly what she’s done.
So, how do you crack it in the hospitality industry?
Hospitality is a broad industry with so many different careers options. “I’d advise you to do extensive research about the industry,” says Nolukhanyo. “I followed the hotelier route, but that wasn’t enough. Within the hotel, I still had to choose whether I wanted to work ‘front of house’, dealing directly with guests, or ‘back of house’, which is more behind the scenes e.g. the kitchen, HR and accounts,” says Nolukhanyo.
Nolukhanyo’s top tip is to choose the path that best suits your personality and passion. “Getting formal training through an accredited institution to acquire a certificate, college diploma or degree will give you more knowledge about the industry and a competitive edge. A formal degree may open even more doors for you – far beyond the operational level of the industry,” she adds.
And know this: hospitality management is practical
“It’s so important to gain the practical skill first, even if you wish to pursue a cooperate career or manage your own business. Never look down on those entry-level, low-paying jobs like waitressing,” says Nolukhanyo.
“As a result of COVID-19, it may be difficult to get paid internships, [but you can still offer] a few hours of your time to a company. This can give a little bit of experience and when the industry picks up again, an opportunity may arise and add value to your CV,” she says.
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𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐚𝐢 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐏𝐚𝐩.Kumnandi ngokupheleleyo ke apho! Spring might seem like it’s blue ticking us fellow South Africans. But braaing on the balcony days are coming! What’s your favourite accompaniment with your braai vleis? 📷 @forthefoodieinme #braai #bestsouthafricanfood #buylocal #suportlocalfood #suportlocal #africancuisine #papnvleis #foodlovers #soulfood #taste #capetownfoodie #capetownmag #womeninbusiness #womanowned #plateoflove
Also, asking for help is perfectly okay
When Nolu started in the industry more than 13 years ago, she stepped into a male-dominated space. “The approach to leadership was hardcore and aggressive; this was a challenging environment for learning. I also struggled with addressing inappropriate sexual comments by male colleagues. I had financial challenges – my salary couldn’t cover my needs,” she says.
Her first love was cooking, but to make ends meet, she asked her HR manager to move her to a more administrative role. “I also started working for small, privately-owned companies, which had a very different culture to large groups. I then decided to travel abroad for experience, but also for financial stability,” she adds.
Leadership lessons she’s acquired along the way
1/ Know yourself and stay true to that person.
2/ Everything starts with you.
“If you don’t know yourself, others will tell you who you should be. This makes it hard for you to achieve your God-given talent and can compromise your own happiness and critical decision-making, like which career path to follow.”
3/ Entrepreneurship is a journey – don’t be afraid to fail and always be kind to yourself.
How Nolu practises self-care…
“As entrepreneurs, we have a habit of working 24/7, but it’s important to take time off. A mind and body that are not at ease cannot create. I pray and meditate. This totally changes my approach to life and usually helps my brain switch to ‘positive’. I love comfort food, but I choose simple, healthy meals daily,” says Nolu.
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The woman whose hands create community, wholesomeness and soul food. Our gentle and brave leader Nolu. We celebrate and honour you today. We gave ourselves some rest to celebrate our founder and heartbeat’s birthday, as she turned a year older yesterday. Wish her a belated one below, if you haven’t already. We also honour the many women who colour the world of our home here at Seven Colours Eatery and ones whose shoulders we stand on as we celebrate women through out this month. Hey why not give the designated chef of your home a rest today? Allow us to do the washing, cutting, prepping, cooking for you and your family. We all need a rest now and again, and again and again. Wishing you a fruitful week ahead. #womensupportingwomen #femaleentrepreneur #womeninbusiness #women #strength #healthyfood #justeatrealfood #veganfood #healthyfooddelivery #southafricanfood #foodie #instacapetown #suportlocal #foodcapetown #capetownfoodie #lockdownsa #sevencolours
Connect with Nolu’s business…