Monica Coleman – Stanley’s Lounge: A Trailblazer in the Cigar Industry
Meet Monica Coleman. Meet not your typical cigar aficionada. Meet a woman entrepreneur who has made a name for herself as the owner of Stanley's Lounge in Atlanta, a popular destination for cigar enthusiasts. .
Monica Coleman – Stanley’s Lounge: A Trailblazer in the Cigar Industry
Cigars have been an indulgence for many people over the years, and it is not uncommon for many to seek out specialty shops that cater to cigar enthusiasts. Unlike the retail industry, which is usually dominated by large corporations and businesses, in the cigar industry, there is a growing trend of brick-and-mortar shops owned by women, who are breaking barriers and creating spaces that celebrate diversity and inclusivity. These entrepreneurs are not only creating successful businesses but also empowering their communities and inspiring future generations of women to pursue their dreams.
Meet Monica Coleman. Meet not your typical cigar aficionada. Meet a woman entrepreneur who has made a name for herself as the owner of Stanley's Lounge in Atlanta, a popular destination for cigar enthusiasts. Meet a woman who mastered the rough journey to becoming a business owner, a journey that was not a straight line.
Monica turned her passion for cigars into a thriving business. With a background in marketing communications spanning over two decades, this savvy business owner has been making her mark in the entrepreneurial world since 2006. Two years ago, she was presented with the opportunity to acquire an existing cigar lounge, and she couldn't resist. Despite some initial hesitation, she decided to go for it, and Stanley's Cigar Lounge was born. The name is a nod to her grandfather, who was the first entrepreneur in her family over 50 years ago. With a deep love for cigars and a desire to continue her family's entrepreneurial legacy, this business owner is creating a welcoming space for cigar aficionados and novices alike. As she says “Who knows, maybe one day my own grandchildren will be inspired by my vision and carry on the family tradition.”
During our conversation, we asked Monica to describe her feelings and thoughts at the moment. Has it been as hard?
Monica: Being a younger, Black female has made my cigar journey a bit interesting at times. To have people question my cigar knowledge, or ability to run my business was frustrating when I first opened. Additionally, for many years, I’d hidden the fact that I enjoy cigars because it wasn’t widely accepted. However, as my journey has continued, it’s been such a blessing to meet so many people from across the globe who are united with me by the power of the leaf. I’ve been able to expand my network, my knowledge, and my love of Cigars, and enjoy teaching my customers as often as I can.
Dr. Psomiadi: “Challenges”…What does that word bring to mind?
Monica: I’d have to say that my biggest challenge in the Cigar industry has been being a woman. I think I’ve hit some obstacles and have had to prove myself even more just because of that. It’s very frustrating because women have been behind the manufacturing of cigars for ages, as well as the entire process to construct cigars in other countries. Additionally, women are one of the fastest-growing demographics within the Cigar community. Another challenge has been finding an appropriate work/life balance because I am a mother, I am caring for family members, and trying to maintain a household while also building a business. At times this has stretched me very thin but has brought awareness to the need to have a great village of people around to support me and to support my business.
In a world where women often feel limited in their ability to pursue their dreams, it's refreshing to hear from someone like Monica, who is inspiring so many others along the way. As a proprietor of her own business, she knows firsthand the struggles that come with entrepreneurship, but it's the moments of shock and awe from others that keep her going. Knowing that people are rooting for her and watching her journey gives her the motivation to push through the tough days. And while she wants to be inspirational to anyone who needs it, she has a special passion for inspiring women. She believes it's time for women to start believing in themselves more and pursuing the things that will bring them happiness and fulfillment, despite the many responsibilities they may have.
“I think it’s time for us to start believing in ourselves more, and really pursuing the things that are going to bring us happiness and fulfillment, which women don’t get to do sometimes.”
Monica Coleman – Stanley’s Cigar Lounge
Dr. Psomiadi: What advice would you give to other people who want to change their careers and enter the cigar industry?
Monica: I would definitely advise anyone interested in getting into the Cigar industry to really gain an understanding of the Cigar community in their area. Many cigar lounges only last and thrive because of regular customers within the community who support those establishments, those apparel brands, or other businesses. A lot of your success is going to depend on how you show up in the Cigar community, so it is important to build reciprocal relationships with people that allow you to expose your business while also supporting others.
Day after day, everything is constantly changing, and it's always important to have a place where people of all backgrounds can come together and enjoy a common interest. That's exactly the vision that Monica has in mind. With a dedication to creating an inclusive environment, her lounge aims to be a hub for connection and camaraderie. The diverse programming offered throughout the week, including music, networking events, and sports, ensures that there's something for everyone. But Monica's vision doesn't stop there. They're also exploring new avenues within the industry, including product development, and advocating for greater inclusivity for women. With big dreams and a commitment to community, it's no wonder that the lounge is quickly becoming a very popular destination for cigar aficionadas and aficionados. And with such a vision and this much dedication to the craft, Stanley’s is sure to remain a beloved destination for cigar enthusiasts that visit Atlanta.
Dr. Psomiadi: What are the values & innovations that you bring into the cigar industry?
Monica: I think some of the values that I bring to the cigar industry are diversity and inclusivity. I represent an emerging market within the industry of both African-Americans and women who engage with cigars differently than traditional smokers. As such, I hope to be able to provide a new perspective when I connect with others in the Cigar community and to also be able to bridge gaps that might have previously existed.
Dr. Psomiadi: Reflect on SOTL Global Movement. What are your thoughts?
Monica: I learned about THE SOTL Global Movement on Facebook one day and was very impressed by the work that the organization was doing and wanted to be part of it. The great thing about the organization is that it connects you with women from across the globe, which is so exciting. I genuinely think that the organization is going to continue to be at the forefront of creating space for women, whether as manufacturers, retailers, influencers, or other roles within the Cigar community, and I’m grateful to partner with them to help bring the vision of the founders and our board to life.
As we come to the end of our conversation with Monica Coleman, we cannot help but be inspired by her success story. Her journey as a business owner and leader in the cigar industry is a testament to her resilience, passion, and hard work. Monica's vision and dedication have helped her turn Stanley's Cigar Lounge into a thriving business, and her commitment to providing exceptional customer service has earned her a loyal following. Monica's success serves as a reminder that with perseverance and determination, anyone can overcome the odds and achieve their dreams. Here's to Monica Coleman and all the women entrepreneurs out there who are making their mark on the world.