Home People Personalities In a man’s world…

In a man’s world…

From boots and hard hats to heels and merlot, Nonku Williams is a bold and brilliant woman, whose passion for life and dedication to working in a male-dominated industry embodies the ethos of a truly multifaceted powerhouse.

At 42, Nonku has done it all. Been married, had kids, got divorced, curated her own wine label, built an empire, become a blogger and eventually, a multimillionaire. She’s survived all the tough stuff that life has dealt, powered her way out of a toxic relationship, proved herself in the construction and logistics industry and added to her fame by featuring on a South African reality show. Most importantly though, she’s learnt to love and respect herself along the way.

From the comforts of her five bedroom, vintage industrial chic home in Hillcrest’s Cotswold Estate, she talks about being the most talked about housewife on the Real Housewives of Durban, how working at a laundromat led her to logistics and how she’s bottled all the sweet and sour moments of her life into some seriously palate-pleasing quaffers.

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Soft, crazy, fun-loving isn’t quite what you’d expect from a woman working in an industry when men ordinarily command respect, yet outside of the boardroom Nonku is wrapped around the fingers of her three favourite humans – her daughter Nothile (15), oldest son Musawakhe who’s 10 and her miracle baby, Phendulile, who is four.

“In the boardroom, I am focused, stern, driven and determined. I am opinionated, vocal and don’t mince my words, but I do it with respect. It’s not easy, especially when you are giving instructions to men – obviously not everyone takes it well. But I’ve managed to master that in my workplace. This is where my father’s contributions in my life have held me in good stead. He instilled great values in me and taught me a lot about respect, especially when it came to men.”

Nonku has made waves in the construction industry over the past few years as a female director of Lukuye Development Projects, but her entry into the field was by no means deliberate, says the former Pinetown Girls’ High School learner.

“In 2006 I started a cleaning company, followed by a laundromat. At the same time I was working fulltime as a social facilitator, handling surveys for households in previously disadvantaged communities. I was juggling a lot just to try and survive. I eventually gave up the nine to five and after hours grindstone and pushed my way into construction because I wanted to live a good, comfortable life. You work hard and get paid well.”

And work hard she does. In 2012 she began to build her empire and nothing has deterred her from reaching her goals.

She serves on the Project Liaison Committees representing EThekwini Women in Construction for the SANRAL N3 Programme and on weekends is also active in the ministry at her mother’s church through which they do a lot of community upliftment.

Between carting kids to and from school, Nonku’s in back-to-back meetings, signing off plans and donning her hard hat and boots for spontaneous site visits to check up on her staff.

“It’s reassuring to see that I have a dedicated team who clearly can get on with the job while I’m not there.”

In 2016, the bug bit and Nonku felt it was time for the world to live life with her on reality TV. She became a fan favourite from the get-go on season one of RHOD and ended this year’s second season still a favourite after earnestly expressing how she found it challenging to be a single mother and busy businesswoman in a male dominated industry.

“I recently divorced – I found the marriage unhealthy for both of us. As a single mother, I often reflect back to my parent’s divorce when I was 18. I learnt a great deal from my mother, who was hardworking, focused and determined to make sure we were well taken care of. Her influence is what taught me never to give up. In turn, I have taught my kids the same. I have also encouraged them to build their own relationships with God as religion is important us.”

With everything she’s experienced in life, Nonku felt the need to bottle her now bright, blissful and beautiful life into her favourite drink, so she founded Ashes to Beauty Winery. It’s based in Stellenbosch but she’s involved from beginning to end and the wine is distributed locally to retailers and upmarket restaurants.

“I’ve always wished I could bottle my life journey – the ups and downs, the lessons and victories, the sweet and sour moments – and I’ve finally been granted my wish.”

Often on a quiet night after a long, hard day, Nonku enjoys a glass at the dinner table or even in her bedroom on the balcony while she watches the sunset. On cold days, she likes to savour a full bodied merlot and some chocolate nibbles in front of the fire place after a hot bath. She saves the fruitier wines for Saturdays, especially when the weather is warmer.

“I’ve learnt, laughed and lived so much on this journey … from how to grow the grapes to how to store them during the winter months so there’s wine throughout the year. This is also more than just a collection of four wholesome wines, this is a story of a bold journey and a taste of the best life that is to come.”

Details: IG: nonku_williams and FB: Nonku Williams

Nonku’s rules for great wine and food pairings

  • Always have good company
  • Make sure food and wine portions are equal
  • Have a balance in flavour and taste of what you serve
  • Grapes have acid, so wines with a sharper, more crisp taste have a higher level of acidity
  • Pairing for me is more about personal tastes. That said I like to serve a creamy pasta, fatty fish or meal with a rich creamy sauce with a chardonnay
  • Fruit platters go well with a merlot or Syrah
  • Spicy food should be paired with a hot, spicy beverage.
  • Herby lamb chops pair well with a Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot pairs well with blue cheese, cheddar cheese, gorgonzola. chicken, berries and fruit or red fruit sauces
  • Pork and asparagus dishes pair well with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pair a pinot noir with earthy flavours and your best chocolate
  • Complementary: It’s white with high acidity; Congruent: is also white and goes well with creamy foods such as risotto or pasta
  • Condiments should complement the meal and drink
  • Port, sherry and moscato are good dessert wines
  • Don’t complicate things, simplicity is key

 

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