Funmi Franklin, affectionately known as “Queen,” is a woman that while trying to find the words to describe her, I kept coming back to the word passionate. And I feel weird saying that.
Why? Because I’ve never met her personally yet somehow, I still feel the passion she has for her life’s calling through the few exchanges that we’ve shared. The 41-year-old “happily married” wife, mother and entrepreneur resides in Jackson, Mississippi where she is the beauty and brains behind HATHOR, LLC which is the umbrella company for her two brands – Thick And Proud Sisters (TAPS) and Sisters Increasing Positive Progression, Inc. (SIPPI).
Check out our chat about how she earned her nickname and how she runs multiple businesses and a household below.
JESSICA SIMIEN: Before we start, I have to know where you got the name Queen from. I often see people and hear people refer to you as that.
Funmi “Queen” Franklin: I’m so glad you asked that. I wrote a poem years ago called “I Am Queen.” A friend read it and he started addressing me as Queen. It felt good, so I adapted it. At the time I was meeting a lot of new people so the transition came with ease. Plus, it was easier than having to repeat the pronunciation of my birth name (which I love and cherish), Funmi.
JESSICA SIMIEN: Tell us about Hathor, LLC and TAPS.
FF: TAPS came to me in a dream, the entire idea, plan, everything. That’s how I know it’s ordained by the Creator. I’d been trying to gather women in a way that could restore the fellowship and sisterhood that I’d seen from my mother and her friends for years. I started a group called Sisters Increasing Positive Progression, Inc (SIPPI). At the time it was geared toward professional women. It was a safe place where women could come together and let their hair down to discuss things that didn’t relate to business or careers. We get too focused on that sometimes and we forget to live. But that became a challenge because most of the women were indeed professional and had time limitations. Meetings were difficult to accomplish.
I let it settle for a while but never stopped feeling the draw to bringing women together. So, I began to become uneasy with myself. I started to pray and ask the Creator to direct me. Specifically I asked Him to show me what He would have me to do as I knew this “thing” I was feeling was of Him. He shared with me in my dream that the most difficult challenge I’ve had in my life, aside from dealing with the death of my parents, was learning to love who I am. My size played a huge part in that because I was always teased for not being small. I was never a small kid. So, my family and friends made fun of me. Which lead to self hatred….which led to bad choices in life….which led to who I became. God said to me, in order to follow My charge on your life you must learn to love yourself because I want you to help other women do the same. I didn’t have to ask why or how. He gave me the everything all the way down to the name of the group – much like he had with SIPPI. I brought TAPS and SIPPI together under one umbrella and called it HATHOR, LLC named after the Egyptian goddess of all things feminine.
JESSICA SIMIEN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
FF: I think it’s in my blood. My father was the Principal of a private school, the Black and Proud School, during the 70s and 80s. He taught me to be own-minded. He taught me to be of the people and to be an advocate, even if just by example. From there, I dated people who were entrepreneurs. I suppose they were teaching me as well.
JESSICA SIMIEN: How do you balance working an everyday job, running your businesses and being a wife and mother?
FF: I’ve never really given any thought to it. TAPS doesn’t seem like work until the premiere event. It’s an honor to lead this organization. Being a wife
and mother is my soul’s joy so that doesn’t feel like anything that needs balance. Now, my everyday job does take some concentration but fortunately, I get to be around good people doing great things. So, in short, all of it feeds my soul and has a significant purpose so the effort to balance is demanding.
JESSICA SIMIEN: Your annual TAPS showcase is coming up soon. Can you tell readers about the showcase and how they can be involved?
FF: Each year we take in a different class of women. They have to attend self love and awareness workshops and participate in community events throughout the year. The showcase has become their new introduction to life. So they have the opportunity to strut down the runway and feel beautiful with all the attention on them – many for the first time in their life. It gives them the spark they need to deal with things they have stored away in their mental psyche for years – like hurt, pain, anguish, hatred, disappointment. They can forgive themselves and others and they can begin to live whole lives.
To be involved all the public has to do is come to the event. They can email us for ticket information. Our workshops are free so this event helps fund the workshops as well as the HATHOR Honors Awards that we do, so we welcome all donations and services.
JESSICA SIMIEN: What has been the greatest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
FF: Hard times are guaranteed. Most of the time, the hard times will break your spirit if you don’t have faith in something stronger, higher than you. It’s not that you won’t break down; but, that faith and that passion gives you the power to get back up.
JESSICA SIMIEN: What advice can you give young women who are looking to own their own businesses?
FF: Get a mentor, someone you trust that you can run your thoughts by that can offer guidance. Maybe they have done what you are trying to do or have some connections that will help you. And if this is a black business owner, join the Jackson Black Pages (it’s free) and be sure to attend the free monthly mixers so that you can network with other like-minded individuals who want to succeed and see others do the same.
JESSICA SIMIEN: Other than the model showcase, are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?
FF: I serve on the Jackson Black Pages Steering Committee and we are preparing for the 2ndAnnual Jackson Black Business Expo on February 27, 2016. So, once we get through November 5, all focus goes to the expo. After that, my focus then shifts to the HATHOR Honors Awards. It never stops and I thank The Creator for that.
The TAPS Model Showcase is Thursday, November 5 at the Russell C. Davis Planetarium in Jackson. For ticket information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Queen on Twitter and Instagram @sippiearthqueen and @taps601.