Wellness for the Black community with a focus on resilience and joy!
Love and Entreprenuership with Monica Kelley Lapeyrolerie
Carbon caught up with Monica Kelley Lapeyrolerie for a Valentine’s love chat about her nearly 20 year marriage to her husband, Don, who she met in graduate school and later worked with in the same cubicle! Though it took a bit of time to connect romantically, the two, who live in New Orleans, did say, “I do” and the rest is beautiful history!
We talked about not only how they met, but how they’ve maintained their relationship through connection and communication.
We also chatted with Laperyrolerie about her lovely business, The Roaming BookSTAR, which she launched in the summer of 2021.
Monica and Husband, Don
How long have you been married?
It will be 20 years in December.
How did you meet and what was it you liked about each other initially?
We met in graduate school some time in 1997. We had a class together but never interacted. He graduated a couple of years before me and was working for the city. Then. in 1999, after I graduated, I went to work at the same department. In fact, we shared a cubicle.
I wasn’t interested in him at the time, but he said he was always interested in me. (she laughed)
Our relationship changed after I left the department in 2001. How that happened is an even longer story.
I liked his grit and determination that showed through his work. I also liked that he didn’t take any sh*t from some of the people we dealt with daily. Most importantly, I loved how committed he was to his family, particularly his grandfather whom he visited almost daily.
How do you maintain the emotional health of your relationship?
We communicate rather openly, though I know when to hold my tongue. I let him air out his grievances, then we carry on with business as usual. (she laughed)
You two go to a lot of events. What do you think about the importance of couples doing things together?
We share a lot of the same interests, but then we are polar opposites on other things. It’s important to be friends as well as partners.
What do you love most about your husband?
Most importantly, he loves me unconditionally and doesn’t mind telling or showing me that on a regular basis.
In addition to a satisfying marriage, Lapeyrolerie also started a fun business, The Roaming BookSTAR, a mobile/popup bookstore where she sells books and other cool gift items. This entrepreneur who has always wanted her own business, has been hitting the pop-up shop scenes since 2021, supplying customers with great reads and cute, enjoyable selections. She does this while holding down a full-time job and being an on-call associate at a high-end retailer. Lapeyrolerie has found a way balance practicality with passion.
How did you come up with the idea?
When the pandemic began, my feelings towards my job at the time were beginning to change. I was growing more and more disillusioned with it. I was passed over for a promotion that, quite frankly, should have been mine. Then leadership in my department changed and things went downhill from that point on.
There’s nothing more frustrating or aggravating than having someone with less experience than you be your boss and use that authority to “keep you in your place.” So, with all of that, I needed an outlet and an exit strategy for that job.
A friend told me, “Focus on doing something that you love.” One of the things I loved to do during the pandemic was go to popups around the city. A lot of small businesses were born in the pandemic and they were doing popups and markets while the malls were closed. Then, the Black Lives Matter movement really took off and the focus was on supporting Black businesses (which has always been my thing).
I met a lot of business owners during this time and became friends with many, as I was basically following them around town for the popups. I was inspired by them. One day, it occurred to me that I can do the same thing by selling what I love – books. A friend of mine owned a coffee shop where she hosted monthly markets and I asked if I could join the next market. The rest is history.
What’s your full-time role?
I’m an urban planner. Since I left that crappy job in 2022, I now work in a very specialized, niche segment of planning – federal planning. I work specifically for the military.
How do you keep your energy and motivation up to run your business?
Running the Roaming BookSTAR is a passion of mine. It doesn’t really turn a profit, but it brings me much satisfaction to sell books to people who are looking for something different. No one does what I do so that’s motivation enough to keep going.
Does running your business cause stress?
It started as a stress reliever, and it has been. Once it becomes stressful or no longer satisfying, then I can easily walk away from it.
Do you feel empowered by having your own business?
Yes, it’s empowering to be able to control all aspects of your business. I control which events to participate in, the inventory, the prices, the aesthetics…..it’s all my decision.
What are your plans for your business?
I have a million and one ideas floating in my head. Who knows which one I may decide to pursue? Stay tuned!
What would you tell someone else who wants to start a business but is afraid?
Just do it! The only thing holding you back is YOU!
You can find Lapeyrolerie’s business on Instagram at: @the_roaming_bookstar