Monica Coleman is the owner of Stanley’s Cigar Lounge, which opened September 10 in South Fulton. She’s been an entrepreneur for the last 20 years and before that, she would coordinate sponsored fashion shows in high school.
Having a marketing background, Coleman has worked with big companies such as the National Basketball Association and MTV, and sees owning a business as an extension of that.
Coleman found the property that would become Stanley’s, named after her grandfather, only 60 days before the grand opening. After competing with over 20 other people and organizations for the location, Coleman’s bid was chosen, leaving her from July 1 to opening night to pull everything together.
She chose to open so quickly to be operating in time for Atlanta Cigar Week. As a mom and an entrepreneur, working the long hours to take care of inspections, certifications and staffing was difficult.
“It’s been a lot,” Coleman said. “But I think when you’re passionate about something… you figure it out.”
Coleman experienced several delays while completing all the requirements necessary to open the lounge. It also wasn’t easy for Coleman to become an owner of a business in a predominantly male industry.
“Being a woman in a predominantly male industry and assumptions about my skill level and capacity to open and stay open, those are all things that weigh on you,” Coleman said.
The previous business that was in the building Coleman now owns used to be a different cigar lounge. Her goal for Stanley’s is to bring back something that had been missing in the community with a feminine touch to create a new experience for patrons.
“I want people to come in and feel cozy,” Coleman said. “I want the environment to feel very sensual and inviting and also a bit upscale.”
Coleman thinks that people often associate having a fancy night out with having to drive into Atlanta, but wants the residents of South Fulton to feel like they can have a nice night out in their own community.
She also hopes to create a safe and educational environment for people to experiment with cigars, especially women. Coleman noted how often in cigar culture, it’s assumed that women only smoke sweet cigars.
“When you really get into the sophistication of how [cigars] are made and how a Dominican cigar is going to give you a different flavor than one from Nicaragua, than one that’s Moroccan,” Coleman said. “There’s so much to learn and there’s so much to explore and I’ve always found that kind of interesting.”
Coleman also wants for Stanley’s to be a supporter of the South Fulton community. She plans on hosting candidates she believes will bring good change, having a scholarship program with schools in the area and featuring desserts from small, minority-owned businesses.
The cigars in lounge’s humidor are also minority-owned brands. Coleman sees Stanley’s simply as “step one” to a longer journey with the possibility of more locations in the future.