Northside Woman, February 2019

Page 22



Entrepreneur ring-cleaning problem sparks business idea By KATHLEEN STURGEON


hen Monique Honaman married in 2009, she became devoted to keeping her new ring clean. “I love my ring and what it stands for, and I want to keep it sparkling,” she said. “Those clunky jars filled with cleaning fluid are messy. That little brush is just a pain to use, and you can’t really travel anywhere with it, because it’s just too big and it’s not TSA friendly.” She set off to research a solution to her problem, but found one didn’t exist…yet. So, she took on the task of solving the problem herself and came up with the idea for Ringo, a 2-inch tall ring cleaner with an aesthetically pleasing look. Under the lid, there are clips for the ring and small brushes to clean it using a pre-loaded, non-toxic cleaning solution. While she had the idea for Ringo, it took a few years to get the ball rolling, as Honaman’s days filled with work, raising two kids and volunteering at church and in her community. “Through those years, however, I never stopped thinking about Ringo,” she said. “It wasn’t until a trip out to California in 2014 that I decided to quit talking and actually see if I could make this idea work. My husband and I returned from this trip fired-up and committed to giving it a fair shake to see if we could make this product work.” The couple established their company, Contender Brands, and began creating designs and building prototypes. This wasn’t too difficult for Honaman, who formed an independent firm in 1999 that eventually merged and morphed into ISHR Group, a leadership development and executive coaching firm in 2006, after she left her corporate day job working for GE. But even with that experience, the two businesses had one major difference — ISHR Group is entirely a service business. “We bill on the services our people provide,” Honaman said. “It’s really a very simple model. Contender Brands is an entirely different beast, involving prototypes, patents, tooling, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and I’m one of those people who is determined keep learning and growing. It’s fun to be continually challenged as we figure out every step of this process.” That process often stalled, and the couple had to learn patience when developing Ringo. They also struggled to find the right partners who would understand what they were trying to create. After coming 22 | | february2019

Monique Honaman developer of Ringo, ring cleaner.

up with the idea, Honaman needed attorneys, designers, producers, marketers and more to help bring it from concept to creation. Once everything was put into place, however, Honaman could fully enjoy the product of her own creativity. “It’s wonderful to see others respond favorably to a product that didn’t exist before,” she said. “It’s really hard work and can challenge every ounce of our patience. It’s a large financial investment to design a product, and the vast majority of that investment has to be made before one cent is returned via sales. I believe this is why most people with great ideas give up before their product can even be designed; but sticking with it, and seeing an idea translate from paper to product is incredibly rewarding.” Now, a portion of all proceeds from Ringo are donated to Rainbow Village in Duluth, which has a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty, homelessness and domestic violence. To learn about Ringo, visit ■