“A passionate beauty mogul taking her family business to new heights.”
Respected for her subtle yet strong leadership and her direct communication style, Marquis Bohannon adds value through her intentional solutions and to-the-point problem solving. Bohannon is a business leader with 15 years of business and sales experience. She teaches women to be confident and fearless leaders in business. She is a beauty expert that has transformed hundreds of women’s beauty through her family’s brand of cosmetics. This 30 year-old business leader is on fire for encouraging women to be their own boss and living to their fullest potential.
A MBA graduate from Hampton University, Marquis’ vision and passion has been integral to fulfilling her destiny of growing the family business, Bovanti, and securing its future. She recently opened her third retail location, Bovanti Cosmetics & Spa, in her hometown, Atlanta, Georgia, with other locations in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina. Marquis has been featured in Upscale Magazine, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and was recently inducted in the inaugural 40 under 40 class at Hampton University. She lives by the motto from Madame C. J. Walker: “Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to get up and make them.”
We welcome a passionate beauty mogul in this week’s ShineHard Conversation.
What was it like growing up with two entrepreneurs as parents?
Marquis: I’ve always been in an entrepreneurial type family. My parents started our brand, Bovanti, 34 years ago. I didn’t start at Bovanti initially. I actually had my own line called MarquisMarquel. Anything I did I had to put my sister’s name with it! It was MarquisMarquel Fashion Club, MarquisMarquel Graphic Design Company. Everything was Marquis and Marquel because I couldn’t do everything by myself. Even if she didn’t do anything, I just had to have her name in it (laughs). Even within all the small businesses, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I wanted to be my own boss. With my parents, I saw what they did being entrepreneurs; being able to write their own paycheck, being able to have multiple locations- that’s what I wanted to do at a very young age. I told my Dad that I wanted to take over Bovanti and he said, “You don’t have to take it over, Marquis. I’m going to give it to you.” When I did the Fashion Club in the fifth grade, I was telling them I would pay them 10 cents to draw designs because I said I’m going to be a big time fashion designer when I grow up. If it looked good, it was 25 cents. If it didn’t look that great but I could possibly use it, 10 cents. That is the type of entrepreneur that I wanted to be- somebody that was known for a great product or service.When I got into the side of cosmetics and transformational beauty, being able to see the difference in motivating someone and giving them confidence through beauty was the road I wanted to take.
When did you realize you had a talent in cosmetics?
Marquis: My mother put me into the business early on at 13 years old. I couldn’t wear makeup but she had us selling the makeup. One person didn’t show up [to work] and she said, “Marquis, I need you to go out there and help me.” She showed me how to put on the lip liner. I’m good at arts and crafts so I knew how to draw and put on the lipstick so it definitely made it easier. I honed the craft of doing the makeup but one thing that I’m great at is sales. It’s not necessarily just doing the makeup… I’m a person that knows how to sell. I can sell ANYTHING. Makeup and cosmetics are one of the things that I like because it transforms a woman and gives them self-confidence.
What did you study at Hampton University?
Marquis: I’m glad you asked. I was actually in the five year MBA program. My mom wanted me to go to Spelman, and I said, “I don’t want to go to Spelman because they don’t have a business program.” I would have had to be in Economics. My dad went to Central and I said, “I don’t want to go to Central.” I did research and one of the girls in my high school said she was going to Hampton and I was like, “I’ve never even heard of Hampton.” I researched Hampton University and found out that they had a five year MBA program and said, “OK, I can get my Master’s of Business Administration.” Ever since then, with me being in the program, it’s really done a lot for my business because I didn’t want to do entrepreneurship- I know entrepreneurship because I live and breathe it. I needed to know the other logistics, and the other systems in order to know that I could take the company to the next level. It absolutely benefited me because you’re working with people, and working with your finances and accounting. Different classes equipped me to be in the position that I am today. Since I am an entrepreneur, I took the opportunity at Hampton to be a prime time to showcase my business and push myself out there. I had to make sure that I could get these ladies to see how I could make them a part of Bovanti Cosmetics. It was like I was putting my business on a test. It was like my own case study going on. I was there every Friday in the Student Center. I’m doing Homecomings. Any type of event, Bovanti was there. I had to make sure my presence was known on campus.
So tell us about Bovanti and the range of services you all provide for your clientele.
Marquis: We have our own line of cosmetics and skincare. We also provide services that include lashes, brows, brow tinting, and microblading. We do spa services that include massages, facials, and back treatments. Anything you need in the beauty industry, besides hair, we can do. We have locations in Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina, and we have our newest location we opened in Cumberland Mall in Atlanta, Georgia which is my hometown.
What’s your day-to-day as the co-owner?
Marquis: Now that I have three locations, there are a lot more responsibilities. Making sure that each location has the inventory, making sure that I have the staff, that I have the rent taking care of…I mean that’s a big deal! I don’t want to work to pay bills. I’m in a position where I can actually work and love what I’m doing. A lot of time when you get into business, you’re fighting to pay this or pay that. Loving what you do makes you wake up in the morning and say, “OK, I love what I do and I can get up and do this again.” If you dread it and the passion is not there, it’s not going to be as successful as you want it to be. People can tell. Customers can tell, as well. If you have the fire and the energy in you and you know that it’s something that you want to do, push through and make it happen.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started Bovanti?
Marquis: I would say knowing how to communicate with people. I think when I first started, it was being able to handle different team members and being younger. When you’re younger, people might not respect you as they need to, but the thing is I have the type of personality that I demand respect when I come in the room. I overcame barriers through my actions. I lead by example. People see what I’m doing, see how I create an environment where I sell and lead, and bring the team together.
Who do you look up to for guidance and inspiration? And why?
Marquis: No one necessarily in the beauty industry but I look up to my parents. They have already set the foundation for us. We are at the threshold where Bovanti is blowing up because our parents laid a strong foundation for us to actually stand on. With that being said, my parents are very strong entrepreneurs. They have been through a lot and they have been through the test of time. A lot of people think they can just go into business, then it will just pop up and be working just like that. It takes a lot more time, energy and dedication and having the right people. I think I have the right people at my locations and I can really say that that they are committed to Bovanti and loyal to our brand and have a vision.
From a leadership perspective, how do you find the right people?
Marquis: Finding the right people is not easy. Not everyone that comes inside the store is going to be committed to the brand. You have to be able to see through and discern the type of people that are going to be for the company and you have to do the interview process, and from there put them on the sales floor.“Are you going to sink or are you going to swim? What are you going to do? You have those people that are hustlers and have the attitude of “I can do this!” and positive energy. People who are not excited about what they are doing or are here just for a paycheck aren’t going to last long. We are creating an environment where they have an entrepreneurial spirit themselves, and they can write their own paycheck here at Bovanti. No other cosmetics company is doing that.
When you reflect on self-education, what’s one book that changed your life as an entrepreneur?
Marquis: I read a lot and some of the things I do or have read are John Maxwell Leadership Bible, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read books from The Magic of Thinking Big…books that are not just business books, but those that get you in the mind of how you think. Different books allow you to open up your mind and see what other people are doing. I’m not just focused on beauty, I’m focused on business.
What is your passion and when did you know?
Marquis: My passion is being an entrepreneur. I have really worked hard on being an entrepreneur. Not just for the cosmetic industry. Whatever industry I would be in [if I weren’t in beauty], I would be an entrepreneur because I want to be my own boss. I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be the person that inspires and encourages people to say, “If she did it, I can do it too.”
What is your greatest fear?
Marquis: I haven’t ever been asked this question before. My greatest fear is that my businesses don’t succeed as I want them to. That’s really why I work so hard. I must work hard to make sure that they are in a position to be successful. This location here in Greensboro is not as big, but this allowed me to work in Four Seasons mall and get to the Charlotte location, which allowed me to get to the Cumberland location. You have to appreciate the process.
What inspires you to succeed?
Marquis: I see people like millionaire and billionaires and think, “If they can do it, I can definitely do it.” I have to make sure that I continue to work hard on what I’m doing but also not be close-minded- to see what else is out there, to be able to brand the business and have multiple locations. I can’t be a millionaire off of one location. I see all these great people and entrepreneurs that inspire me. I go to different conferences. I go to beauty shows. Then I go to the ones that will help me with myself. I’ve been to a lot of business branding ones with Marshawn Evans. I’ve been to one with the Fascination Advantage. That’s how she allowed me to see how I fascinate and what makes me different from everybody else. You need to work on your strengths. You don’t ask Tiger Woods to work on what he’s not good at. You need to work on what you’re great at. I’m great at sales so I’ve been to a lot of sales conferences-learning how to communicate with people, learning how to handle objections and switch a situation around. That’s something I’m great at and I want to do not only with my business but to teach other businesses how to work within sales. Over the course of my life, I have been to over 20 or more conferences that I’ve saved up for.
What separates those who have turned dreams into a reality vs. those who haven’t?
Marquis: They have to act on it. They always might have that, “What if…?What if I fail? What if I don’t have enough money? What if I don’t have enough people to buy my product?” The “What-if” factor keeps you cycling back to not pushing forward with your actual dreams. The people who are successful are the ones who act on their dreams.They continue to go even though they may not be successful in the beginning. The thing is to just keep progressing and moving forward. That’s how you make your dream a reality.
The DNA of Marquis – What are the 3 major attributes to your success?
Marquis: I am a leader, I am courageous, and I am persistent.
Do you have a vision board? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Marquis: I have a vision board I created maybe a year ago. It had a picture of me and my sister and I being a dynamic duo.You have to visualize where you want to be in life. In five years, I see myself having 10 physical Bovanti locations with a large online presence and on the verge of being a millionaire. I have to speak it into existence because of I don’t, nobody else will.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs that want to have their own business?
Marquis: You have to be serious about it because this is nothing to play with. You are incorporating other people into your dream. You have to be honest with yourself and know that it is something you really want to do because you have other people that are following your vision. You have to take the time because it’s not going to happen overnight. You have to keep moving forward and progressing and things will come into place. God will position you where you need to be. You may be in a place where you are able to communicate with somebody, or be in an event…and you’ll just be in the right place at the right time and ask, “Who did this?” and it will be God. You have to give God all the honor and the Glory.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Marquis?