CEO of Top Hair Company on Being Discouraged and Relying on Faith to Keep Her Going
By Khadejah Stegall
Khadejah is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program and a recent graduate of North Carolina A&T University.
Deonna Monique is the mastermind behind the brand Boho Exotic Studio. Boho Exotic Studio is a hair business that specializes in selling high quality luxurious curly and straight hair. The hair has been bought over two million times and worn by actress Monique Coleman, Tinashe, Danielle Brooks from Orange is The New Black, and seen in Vogue, ESSENCE and Refinery 29.
What makes this hair different from others is their custom match process to match your curl texture perfectly. The successful hair care brand diligently seeks the world to source the highest quality of raw hair, and has a very careful processing system without using any harsh chemicals. Deonna tells The Life Currency the risk she took to start her own business and times where she almost gave up.
Q: When did you learn that you wanted to start your own business especially since it was going to be a risk?
A: When I was like 6, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would hear, doctor, lawyer, or something like that. I always thought, “Why do I have to choose? All I have to do is learn what they’re doing and do it.” I eventually heard the word entrepreneur and the mysterious word intrigued me because everyone was something different so I wanted to be that. I remember writing down different business ideas and the steps I needed to start the business. And that was when I was like 14!
But still I worked “for the man” since 15 at really cool jobs (Disney, ABC, NBC, call centers, etc). My mom would tell me “This is one of those jobs you need to keep!”, but every year I was usually on to something else. After working my last job and only getting paid $50K a year, I just decided to leave and do my own thing… finally.
I was making hair care tutorials on YouTube from different hair companies at the time. But I knew that this time was my time. I stopped trying to make other companies money, and decided to delete their videos and start my own brand. It was what I wanted to do anyway. Sell hair. I didn’t think of the “risks” I would be taking from leaving my good job to making videos on hair. I just thought, “DO IT”. I had tunnel vision. I do remember praying about it, and just feeling a yes and the energy from every door I attempted towards starting my business just flew open. They were small doors at the time, but still they opened.
Q: What advice would you give to other women who aspire to be an entrepreneur?
Number one rule I have learned, is that you just have to go for it. Start from wherever you are. If your regular job is getting in the way, quit it. Just do it. Don’t wait for more money, just do it. You might ask, “But what about rent money? What about my electric bill?”. This is still the closed mind of a nine to fiver. Don’t you trust your vision? Don’t you trust God will see you through? Some want to wait for the best time to quit their job. There won’t be a good time. It’s very comforting knowing every week you’re getting a paycheck from your dead end job. And if you like that life, being an entrepreneur isn’t for you. We grind over here in the entrepreneur life. What does that mean? When we need rent paid and other bills, we work and advertise and get out there working towards our dream to get it done. Make sure your website is up and you’ve got photos, and product, but just go for it.
Some people make excuses “I gotta do this first. I gotta do that next”. Don’t be that person. Those people don’t reach their entrepreneurial goals because it’s not a priority for them. They care about their future, but they really don’t. They want to be an entrepreneur, but not really. This business is for BOSSES ONLY. We don’t straddle the fence. We go for our goals. We make decisions. We do not waver. Those people are scared of the what-ifs, which means they don’t believe in their own goals. Stop dreaming. Dreaming is for people who have a 9-5 and dream of making it. Real entrepreneurs have no time for dreams (let alone sleep)— they only have goals, and they check them off. They don’t have time for anything but making their goals make them money.
Q: What is your motivation to constantly keep working daily?
A: Can you imagine waking up anywhere in the world and start working? I couldn’t before when I had a job. Now that’s my lifestyle. When you finally do what you want to do with your life, no one makes you come in. You wake up excited to go to work, to see your coworkers, to help customers, to make money. I actually love what I do. I play in hair, I write. My customers speak my language so I get to talk hair and business all day. That’s an amazing blessing to me! I no longer am sitting in a cubicle writing on a notepad of what I want to do when I grow up. I used to watch the clock waiting to get off work, and would be so irritated when I would be asked to work overtime or answer a question. I literally answer more questions than I ever did at my job, and work five times as many hours and I love every single minute!
I also have a daughter, and I don’t want her crying because she needs new shoes or a new app, and mommy doesn’t have the money. That’s my motivation.
And most of all, the money. I’m money and people-motivated. There is no other satisfying feeling than making money while you sleep, waking up with money in your account, and all they want you to do is give them your dream.
Q: Through your entrepreneurship journey, please tell us about a time where you got discouraged and almost gave up.
A: I got discouraged when I couldn’t pay my bills on time. I got discouraged when I made all this money and put it right back into the business and saw little return. I got discouraged when I sent hair to certain Instagram personalities, and they took my product and wore it for months and never mentioned the brand at all.
I get discouraged. Whoever says they don’t get discouraged probably doesn’t have a strong passion for what they do. I use discouragement as fuel. It doesn’t break me no matter how hard the hit is. It makes me stronger..I learn that for every sour apple, there’s 20 more cupcakes. I do what needs to be done. If I am a Queen, and I wear a Crown, then I do not do what “Deonna” wants, I do what is good and right for my kingdom. I think of my Crown instead of myself. Deonna might cuss someone out if this was personal. But this is not Deonna, and this is not personal. This is my business. This is the Crown speaking for my kingdom.
Q: You sell virgin hair which is a competitive industry. What sets your business apart from others?
A: To be honest, there is no competition in my eyes. I’m in my own lane. No one knows more about hair than me. I live for this. Imagine going to school full time. Well I’m in school 15-18 hours a day. I’m the professor, and I’m the student. I am the customer. I have been messed over by hair vendors since I was a teenager. I know good hair when I see it. I know what to look for before I ever wash it so I started my own brand. I’m not just selling the hair but making it. What makes me different? I’m you. I’m not me making a name for myself. I could give a damn if no one knows my name, but you will know my brand. I am the voice of the natural girl before it was accepted by society.
Q: Being a women entrepreneur and African American, what are some ways you have been discriminated? How were you able to deal with this?
A: I was discriminated against growing up. I was the African American girl that was bullied for having natural hair. I was in fights because I needed to get a “perm.” My hair was “too big” and “too nappy.” This wasn’t even white people. These were black girls. And I hate to even say that because I love my culture deeply but unfortunately it was my own culture that fought me for having curly hair. But I still never permed my hair because my hair is a 3c curl, and I always wanted to know why it wasn’t like a 4b.
I turned my discrimination into my business. I went against the grain, and I can say that with the help of the consumer, we are making natural hair acceptable again. And some of those same girls that bullied me are now my customers in their natural hair journey. God always finds a way to make your enemies your footstool.
Q: Please name books you've read or blogs that kept you motivated through your journey.
- Super Powers by Deonna Monique
- The Bible
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
- Practically every single book by Joseph Murphy, Napoleon Hill and Emile Coue
Q: Who do you look up to? How do you think they are inspiring other entrepreneurs?
A: Can you imagine having so many followers that you were hated for it? But yet still years after your death, people are still talking about you and following you? That’s what Jesus Christ had to go through. His is so inspiring. I definitely look up to that. In this business, you have to follow your heart, follow God and follow what is right and fair. The story of Jesus and His teaching help me daily.
Khadejah Stegall is a college mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating vegan meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com.