Makaziwe and Tukwini Mandela, daughter and granddaughter of Nelson Mandela have embarked on a journey to head a family venture — House of Mandela Wines — which Tukwini says now embodies a stronger purpose. Launched in 2013 in the U.S., the brand is fairly new. However, deep rooted in heritage, House of Mandela Wines prides itself on a promising foundation, which reaches back to the family’s ancestry and tells a varied story that reflects more than Nelson Mandela’s political eminence.
AFKInsider recently spoke with Tukwini who shared aspects of establishing the brand, incorporating fair trade and the effects Nelson Mandela’s passing had on the business.
AFKInsider: Being that House of Mandela Wines is a new enterprise, have you encountered any hurdles as new entrant?
Tukwini Mandela: I think starting in the wine business is difficult. For one, there’s a financial application and people knew Nelson Mandela the politician. The roughest part of starting the brand was getting people to understand that it wasn’t necessarily about the politics, but it was where my grandfather came from.
AFKInsider: What would you say sparked the idea to establish House of Mandela Wines?
Tukwini Mandela: The person that introduced us to the wine business was my brother. He thought that it would be great for us to have a business venture. Initially, it was not something that we were interested in. My mom and I said, “maybe we should research the wine industry before we say no completely.”
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I think our journey through the wine business was an education for us. We fell in love with the people who produce the wine because they were so passionate about it. There was a synergy with how the wine was made and our family story. We use wine as a vehicle to tell our story to the world.
AFKInsider: Had carrying on the Mandela legacy through another business come to mind before House of Mandela Wines?
Tukwini Mandela: I think any business that we do — or any product that is produced under House of Mandela — will tell the story because there’s so many layers. We get approached all the time to do things, but we want to make sure that those things are right for the brand and that they speak to the story of the brand. For us, wine is our first venture, but we’re constantly looking at doing different things from a business point of view — products with a purpose. The wines are fair trade certified.
AFKInsider: Before you stepped into this industry, you worked in corporate marketing. Why did you walk away from that?
Tukwini Mandela: My passion before I was in wine was fashion, and it still continues to be. Ultimately, it’s about making my family’s legacy. Corporate wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had great experiences and I learned a lot. I’m using those skills in supporting my family’s business now.