Meet The Queen of Spades Style
By Tricia Ross
Monifa, can you tell me what you are passionate about?
This question was posed to me at my first interview when I decided to leave the military and enter the civilian world. I practiced for interview questions like this for days, and then, at that moment, I was stumped. I generalized my answer, trying to make myself sound like an All American Woman.
When I left the interview, I kept asking myself, “What am I passionate about?” I had absolutely no idea!
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, to immigrant parents from Trinidad and Tobago. Growing up, I always wanted to help people, and I was fascinated with medicine, so becoming a nurse came naturally to me.
I attended Howard University in Washington, DC, and earned a Bachelor of Nursing degree. After graduation, I was searching for a purpose. I knew I wanted more than just going to work and coming home. I went with a friend to visit an Air Force recruiter, and after speaking with him about all the things nurses can do and the places they can go, at that moment, I knew this was my calling.
I spent almost nine years in the Air Force, working in various roles and locations. I loved being an airman and felt I was helping so many people and learned so much about myself, my inner strength, teamwork, and how much I can achieve with hard work.
Before I left the military, I applied for several job opportunities, and I was getting interviews. I purchased a great-looking suit, slicked my hair back in a bun, practiced questions and answers, and walked into interviews knowing I was prepared. I was ready, but the one thing I did not practice or know after spending time in the military was what I was passionate about outside of the Air Force. The question of what am I passionate about seem easy, but at the time, I honestly did not know the answer to that simple question.
I worked for various Fortune 500 companies, and I was the picture of what people thought the ‘Company Woman’ should look like. I dressed well, wore dark colors, and I even thought I had a permanent part in my head because of all the side swoop buns I wore all the time.
One day, I was about to make an appointment with my hairstylist for a chemical relaxer, and then I put down my phone. The previous month when it was applied, I got a chemical burn, and I asked myself, “Why do I keep hurting myself every month?”.
That was the moment I said I was not going to put the chemical relaxer in my hair and wear my hair naturally. To deal with growing out the chemical relaxer in my hair, I put braids in my hair and put the braids in a bun. I thought I looked fabulous! After having the braids in my hair for a few weeks, I took the braids out of my hair and then applied a lot of gel so that I could comb it into a bun.
I went to work, and a manager walked by my desk and noticed I took my braids out. I replied yes, and the manager stated, “Good, now you look professional.” I heard other things about my natural hair, but I always maintained that this is the hair that grows out of my head, and it is so beautiful!
When I went to department stores to find hair accessories, I only found hair accessories for women with straight hair. My hair has a thicker texture and needs other types of accessories to accentuate it. I started making my head wraps, hair combs, ponytail holders, headbands, etc.
I loved the creativity of making my hair accessories and loved even more that people noticed my creations. I became very passionate about hair, different textures, and the needs of the various hair textures. I was so passionate about what I was creating and helping people, that I decided one day I would start my company, Queen of Spades Style, and embrace all hair textures. My mission is to ‘Change the Narrative of what’s Beautiful.’ I make beautiful items for all hair textures, and I also have beautiful accessories that will not irritate the scalp for women with cancer and alopecia.
It took me years to realize what I am very passionate about, and as I get out there, meet people, help people, educate people and talk to people, my passion for Queen of Spades Style continues to grow more every day.
I am Monifa Caines, founder and CEO of Queen of Spades Style, and my passion is you and accentuating your authentic style with bold and bright accessories.