If someone asked you, who is Mona Thomas, what would you say?
I’ll begin my saying that I am a proud, Ethiopian immigrant, who moved to the United States at a very young age. I am the oldest of two siblings and was responsible for setting an example, while equally pursuing my own passions regardless of cultural designations, others perceptions, uncomfortable consequences, or personal sacrifices. I am also a wife to an Army Veteran and a mom to two young black Kings. Simply put, I am an educated, ambitious, determined African Queen!
Why did you create Queen High Maintenance?
My husband is a firm believer in creating different revenue streams and having ownership…things they don’t teach in the traditional education system. I also watched my parents work their whole lives to give their kids the “American Dream” and I owe it to my parents to make that dream a reality and not allow their sacrifices to go in vain.
Tell us the meaning behind the name?
Generally, the term High Maintenance seems to have a negative connotation, especially when referring to a woman. I want to change that narrative by showing that yes, there is much effort and maintenance to lead the lives we have as women. We are daughters to our aging parents and fulfill our roles as wives and mothers, while obtaining degrees and careers and manage to take care of our own well-beings. My favorite Shakespearean quote sums up this reality: “Heavy is the Head, that wears the Crown,” hence Queen High Maintenance.
How did you start this brand? Could you walk us through the entire process including how you found quality products to use etc.?
- Created a name and ensured it wasn’t already in use for a clothing line.
- Designed the logo. I have to give credit to my husband whose creative juices produced our dope logo.
- Trademarked the name and logo and applying for an LLC and tax ID.
- Tested domestic and international manufactures to find quality products and stress-tested them to verify how well they performed during workouts, being washed numerous times, etc.
- Research, research and more research!
What is your competitive advantage over other brands?
We collaborate with other minority-owned small businesses to elevate our community to allow for more diversity and inclusion. From our photographers, models, to our web designers and content creators, our business relationships consist of a diverse group of up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Overall, we practice a ‘Chess not Checkers’ mentality and proactively pursue partnerships that strategically align with Queen High Maintenance values, which helps ensure that whatever our next move is always the best move.
What are your 3 favorite brands and why?
- Nike is my go-to when shopping for sneakers. Their branding is amazing and I love their message: ‘Just Do It.’
- Levis is a brand that never goes out of style and maintains quality denim with a variety of styles.
- Polo is a brand who has a broad consumer base with such a small logo. You can find that jockey riding his horse in almost every closet in America and globally.
Who was the first person to cosign/support your new endeavor? And why was this cosign significant?
My husband, Ivory, was the first person to support the idea of QHM and is my main encourager. It is significant because he had his own visions for what our first business venture could be but he was incredibly supportive and willing to put that on hold to show his belief in me and push me to pursue this goal.
Last but not least, who are 5 entrepreneurs you #COSIGN?
I gotta include this bonus one, @hanahana_beauty this is one that I was able to witness early on the development of this brand. To be able to see the growth, rebranding, and recognition is inspiring and motivating!