Donna’s path from redundancy, family loss, to a recipe for success


Nita Blake-Persen, Checkpoint reporter:

A Hamilton woman who has turned her redundancy into a budding dessert business is encouraging others to look beyond job ads for their next chapter. Donna Williams is among the thousands of Air New Zealand staff to have lost their jobs this year.

But despite a year of massive challenges, her new business is taking off – proving to be a recipe for success.

Bright signage greets hungry customers at Gumdrops dessert shop. It reads: “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops oh what a rain that would be…”

Williams says it is a fitting phrase – chosen because it represents looking for the silver linings in life.

Williams, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, is a master at finding silver linings – her shop is a new beginning in what has been an incredibly tough 12 months.

In October last year, her mum died from cancer, and 10 weeks ago her husband of 33-years had a fatal heart attack.

In between, the mother-of-four lost her job as an international flight attendant with Air New Zealand.

“Covid came along and we knew that things weren’t going to be good in the airline industry – of course redundancy came and so I took my redundancy and put it into the shop.”

While a daunting time to be opening a business, she backed her idea.

“In a time where people can’t travel, we like to eat us Kiwis, and this shop is as Kiwi as it gets.”