'I'm not ashamed of my brand'- Uzalo actress Noxolo Mathula on selling hotdogs at taxi ranks

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Noxolo Mathula is building a solid business, one hotdog at a time.
Noxolo Mathula is building a solid business, one hotdog at a time.

Every night, you see her on your screen as Lilly on Uzalo. But during the day, she has a business that keeps her busy.

Unless you are in KwaZulu-Natal, you may not know that she also sells hotdogs and other food in the street and at taxi ranks.

In 2019, Noxolo Mathula was holidaying in New York for a week and she experienced their hotdogs and fast food and she was inspired to make hotdogs with extra cheese.

She did not really do anything about it until 2020 when hard lockdowns were imposed and there was no work for artists.

“We literally did not have bread at home and we could not work. I had been making the hotdogs for a while and anyone who had ever had them had asked why I don’t sell them. So, backed up into a corner, I decided to just try.

“On the first day I made R700 and I thought ‘mmh, we can do this again’. So now we had the essentials of bread and milk and I restocked to make the hotdogs again and I have never stopped.”

She used to have pop up stalls when there were matches at local stadiums, she would also sell at taxi ranks. All this to get her brand of “Hotdogs by Noxolo” out there. She has a spot in Kwa Mashu where she sells them from a container.

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She’s always been business minded, she says. Back in 2013 when she was in Joburg she used to stock and sell sunglasses to family and friends.

“I think I got it from my late grandmother, MaNdlovu, who used to sell fruit.”

She is not ashamed or embarrassed of being a TV personality selling food in the street. Instead, she uses her celebrity status to get more customers.

“I am never ever ashamed. My mother taught me that you don’t ever feel embarrassed by doing honest work. If it gives you money and brings you happiness, then there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s my side hustle, I own it, and no one can tell me anything. It is a brand I am very proud of. I can never be ashamed of it.

“It has grown so much because of the people in the street. I understand my market. My market are the people that are in the street. I’d never be ashamed of where I get my money. Ngama never lawo.

“A lot of people buy the hotdogs because it's Hotdogs by Noxolo. For me, it’s a win-win situation, because people get to see the TV star while they also buy my product. The Lilly brand has also helped, because if we do a poster and say we are popping up in Ntuzuma or Verulam and Lilly will there too, people come. If you buy a hotdog, you get to take a photo with Lilly.

“Me being on TV has really helped to push the brand. People don’t usually get to see celebrities and doing the groundwork. For them it’s also an inspirational thing that ‘haybo Lilly, uyi celebrity and you’re out here in the street’. And I say we all have to hustle because this thing of depending on one salary doesn’t work.”

She says with the South African economy being at such a critical point, it is very important to have multiple streams of income.

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“You get your salary, pay your bills and then what? With the hotdogs, I know that I can put in petrol with this money and I can buy groceries at home. Sell amagwinya, do nails, do anything that will help you make more money. In my line of work, you don’t know when you will be out of a job, so you must have something to fall back on.”

She encourages other celebrities to push their side hustles while they are still relevant.

“Do it while you are still on TV. People don’t get to see their favourite celebrities all the time. When people see you on TV, they wanna see you in real life too. They will support anything that you do because to some of them you are a role model and others look up to you. As opposed to trying to figure it all out when you are already out of a job.”

Has business has been expanded to other types of food like “ukudla kwe spoon” and catering to TV production companies.

“I think because I am an actress, I know what people like to have on set, so that helps. The business now has 15 staff members. We are 13 females and there are two guys. I am very proud our growth.”

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