We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin and Monique Honaman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justin and Monique, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Oscar Wilde said, “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” We couldn’t agree more. After one too many meetings/coffees/dinners/parties with others where we came home exhausted because the conversation was so flat, we decided to leverage our love of really great dialogue and create a series of conversation-starter get-to-know-you card games designed to get people talking, connecting, and relating. Our mantra is “BIG talk, not small talk!” Big conversations are energizing. They bring laughter, tears, reflections, learnings, and dreams. They allow people to reflect on shared past experiences and connect on shared future goals. Everyone has a story, and sharing those stories, experiences and memories is far more interesting than talking about the weather. We launched our first game, Cocktail Farty (where FART stands for Friends Admitting Real Truths). It was such a hit that we quickly created six more concepts: Whine Barrel, Brew-aHa, KegO’Cards, KIC-Start (standing for Kids in Conversation), Kiss’N’Cards (for dating couples), and, most recently, inspired by COVID-19, a game called Spark! (creating inspiration through conversation). Note, there is nothing obscene or risqué (aside from a little potty humor in Cocktail Farty). Instead, the purpose of the games is to drive really great conversations and dialogue that connect people more fully. The most time-consuming part of the process is coming up with the 150 questions per game because the idea is to have all the questions across all the games be as unique as possible. We “test” each question ourselves which can often slow down the process as we get side-tracked answering the questions. One thing is for sure, we never stop learning about each other! Here are a few questions to get you started! “What is the one thing that surprises you the most about your life today?” ~ Cocktail Farty “When was the last time you were really proud of yourself?” ~ Whine Barrel “Whose advice do you almost always listen to? Why? ~ Brew-aHa “What is the weirdest thing you have ever seen someone do?” ~ KegO’Cards “What is the bravest thing you have ever done?” ~ KIC-Start “What’s been the most significant plot twist in your own life?” ~ Kiss’N’Cards “How do you keep a sense of perspective when life gets difficult?” ~ Spark! The whole idea is to teach the art of conversational curiosity where you learn to ask a question, listen with empathy, thoughtfully prepare an answer, respond and share. Our inspiration comes from recognizing the truly wonderful relationships that are made when people take the time to really talk, listen and connect to one another.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Was it easy? Absolutely not. Nobody sees the blood, sweat and tears you put into starting a business. We’ve had people comment on how quickly we started our business. When they see our products get picked up by national retailers like Tommy Bahama, Office Depot or Von Maur, they remark how successful we must be. What they don’t see is the investment of time, money and energy that has gone into starting the business. They don’t hear the countless conversations where we wonder if it’s time to quit or to give it one more year. They don’t see all the failures and mistakes we’ve made (and there have been many!). What we want others to know who are starting their own business is to not give up. Too often we see entrepreneurs jump in with a great idea (or have a great idea and not jump at all), but then not fully commit, get scared, and back out. It is a long haul. Stick with it! You never know what opportunity may be waiting for you around that next corner. We also tell people to pursue their passions and their creativity! In addition to our line of conversation starter card games, we have created a portable ring cleaner called Ringo! “Clean your ring on the go with Ringo!” We’ve also written several books. One of our favorites is a children’s book called, “Bonus Dad! Bonus Mom! A child’s guide to understanding the role of a step-parent.” Justin is also the host of an amazing weekly consumer products entrepreneurship podcast called the “ContenderCast” where his enthusiasm and energy collides with that of his phenomenal guests to make for an entertaining and educational experience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We love living in Atlanta because there is so much to see and do in and around the city. We would spend a few days in the city and visit Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium, go on a tour with Atlanta Bike Tours, walk on the Beltline, and eat at any number of amazing restaurants that have wonderful outdoor/rooftop dining options in midtown. We would then head out to Lake Oconee, one of our favorite places on earth, and spend several days enjoying the lake (boating, kayaking), hiking, and enjoying some peace and tranquility with some good conversation and a nice glass of wine overlooking the lake.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to our two kids for putting up with us working on all of the questions … and testing them out on them! Shoutout to the team at Henderson Shapiro Peck in Roswell, Georgia, for listening to our ideas and translating those concepts into incredibly creative designs.

Website: https://www.contenderbrands.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/contenderbrands/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/contenderbrands/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/contenderbrands
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/contenderbrands
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsXAxgRBKnisYfdj38w_l4g/videos

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