Madame Noire: How did you start the business?
Baroness Monica von Neumann: I always loved candles. I saw room for me in the marketplace. I knew I could form the perfect team to develop the perfect scents and the most luxurious packaging.
Baroness: I am known for always having fresh flowers and candles in my home. Candles was [and] is part of my strategy to my brand, Baroness von Neumann. Candles are the inaugural product of this brand. In a not so great economy, the sales of small luxury goods increase. Candles are the perfect choice in these economic times.
MN: What have been some of the obstacles you’ve faced?
Baroness: Finding trustworthy vendors, realistic and targeted timelines for production and getting people to acknowledge that an African-American Baroness is a tastemaker in a competitive market.
MN: What do enjoy most about your business?
Baroness: I enjoy the creative part the most. I have a nose for scents. It is beyond gratifying to see my vision on store shelves.
MN: Many would think as a Baroness you would either be home relaxing or jet setting. Why did you decide to go into business?
Baroness: I decided to go into business because it was time to get the von Neumann name out there. I am proud of my husband and my family. My husband would be proud that the von Neumann name is attached to a respectful product and our family crest is our brand’s logo.
MN: You support several charities. Why is this important to you?
Baroness: I am very much so involved in philanthropy. March to the Top holds a special place in my heart. They focus on building hospitals and orphanages for AIDS and HIV-affected children. I believe that giving back is so important. [The March to the Top Foundation (M2T) helps underprivileged people of Africa by providing support in health care, education and conservation.]
MN: What’s a typical day is like?
Baroness: I don’t have typical days. Each day is different. Consistently a typical day includes answering emails, daily meetings with my staff and day-to-day operations of my business. I take a strong lead in every decision-making aspect of my business, may it be developing more products, scents and spreading brand exposure. I am busy and I love it.