Monique Hayward is a woman with a mission -- for her business and her community. And now Monique is on a new mission – to reinvent herself and her company. When she first launched her company, Nouveau Connoisseurs Corporation, in April 2004, Monique envisioned that she would create sophisticated, welcoming places that take evening entertainment in the suburbs to a higher level of indulgence and sophistication. The entrepreneur and author did just that with her first concept, Dessert Noir Café & Bar, in Beaverton, Oregon, in January 2005. In addition to delivering great desserts, fantastic cocktails, and delectable dishes, the restaurant focused on supporting the local community and being “the place” in Beaverton for live music, local art, and special events.
“From the first day Dessert Noir Café & Bar opened, I supported charitable causes and organizations because it made good business sense,” Monique said. “I increased my visibility in the community, created a positive perception with my customers and supporters, and built a reputation for being a good corporate citizen.” She encouraged local artists to display their artwork on the restaurant’s walls at no charge and provided a venue to up-and-coming musicians so they could perform their work for restaurant patrons and sell CDs. Even as the recession forced venue owners to cut back on many activities that were considered “nice to have,” artists and musicians expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Monique for supporting them and providing a place where they could share their art and music with the community.
Continued predictions for a long, slow economic recovery and her inability to land additional financing to survive downturn forced Monique to close Dessert Noir Café & Bar in July 2009. “Closing this restaurant does not make me a failure as an individual,” Monique said. “Even the most optimistic of entrepreneurs like me still cannot overcome negative cash flow in the long term.”
Monique said that she will parlay this learning into her next entrepreneurial venture as a much smarter, wiser person. “I have valuable experience and more insight into what it takes to be successful.”
In the meantime, you’ll find Monique actively writing and speaking about women in business and promoting her debut book, Divas Doing Business: What the Guidebooks Don’t Tell You About Being a Woman Entrepreneur. Believe it when Monique says her second act on the entrepreneurial stage will be a much bigger, better performance for the world to see.
Learn more about Monique:
What advice do you have for other women? Monique: Do your business and do it well. Be part of the 10 percent of our workforce who is directing the work of the 90 percent who are showing up for their jobs everyday. Make them deliver for you. Live your dream.
What talent do you wish you had?
Monique: I wish I could sing well. I’m OK at karaoke in general, but I wish I could really belt some tunes!
If you hosted a dinner party and could invite any three individuals, who would you invite—and why?
Monique: Madonna: She is the master of her destiny. I’ve learned a lot by watching her constantly reinvent herself and her brand over the years. Oprah: She has built a multimedia empire that has enormous reach and influence. Barack Obama: I want to meet our country’s first African-American president.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another woman?
Monique: Don’t do anything to jeopardize your ride or your roof. (Thanks, Mom!)