Monique and Eusi Prince are a Toronto couple who give a whole new meaning to the word efficient. With just 24 hours in a day, they manage to do it all. They are the proud parents of ten children ranging from two and a half to 23 years old, and the co-owners All My Son's Hair of Art Studio in Pickering, Ontario, mentors, as well as activists. We sat down with them as the second feature in our Black Canadian Couples In Business series.
How would you describe yourselves?
Eusi: We are a married couple with equal heart, passion, and drive to serve the community.
Monique: We are individuals who have great faith. Individuals, a couple, parents, business owners who truly understand that putting our faith first allows us to do all of these things and wear all of these hats that we were given. Everything that we have, we consider it a gift and an assignment.
How did 'All My Son's' come about?
Monique: All My Son's was a vision that was first written down on paper by my husband. It came through meditation. He wrote down a name 'All My Son's' and said that at some point he would be opening a business. A couple of years down the line, he decided that indeed he will open a barber shop. When he opened up the book, 'All My Son's' was the name that he had written down from before. All My Son's is dedicated to our sons, we have eight boys. At the time the vision was written, we only had four sons. I always tell everyone, be careful what you write down on paper because it truly manifests.
You are the parents of ten children. How have you been able to do this? Where do you get the strength and wisdom from?
Monique: Without compromise, it really is our faith. Just knowing that something greater than ourselves has given us the ability, the gift, has seen us fit, has trusted us with things that we have. We consider our ten children a gift and an assignment given to us by the Lord, and we really lean on each other for strength, coming together as one. I would never be able to raise my children without my husband, and my husband feels the same way. We really do it together as a team. We lean on each other. If I'm dull, he's sharp; you know the whole aspect of iron sharpening iron. We do it as a collective. Our children have the same understanding, that we do it together. It has its challenges, it has its tests but just knowing that we have each other, we have a family unit, we have our faith, it really allows us to be hopeful.
Eusi: I would just say that timelines matter in our family. Order matters. Order is first. As long as there is order and discipline in our household, everything runs according to plan, most of the time. You can't just wake up one day and decide, this is what we're going to do with the kids. You have to communicate. We communicate back and forth with each other whether it's through social media apps, speaking in person, or at the shop. We are always communicating. We communicate at least 20 to 30 times a day just so that we always know exactly what's going on with dinners, lunches, breakfast, work, and outings. It's a consistent system. The system is basically communication at all times. We have to communicate as husband and wife, business partners, and friends. We definitely have to make sure that our communication level is clear and concise.
What have been some of the challenges and victories in terms of business?
Eusi: When you have a vision, you have something that's inside your mind, putting it on paper, putting it on the table for everyone to see, you hope that they go along with the vision. For an apprentice, you hope they learn what is taught. In terms of customer service, sometimes you don't always have customers who are the most cordial people, you have to know how to use diplomacy to defuse situations. Some days you are so up to doing what God has given you and your spirit is up, and then there are some days it's a challenge. The victories are when a lot of customers acknowledge our customer service, our customers become friends, and when our conversations help out those who are in hardship. We are always helping people in their marriages. What they say to us, we keep within the four walls. We are always giving advice and good counsel as best as we can. The victory is that we have helped in some way other than just giving our service.
You've both given back to the community. Could you talk more about that?
Monique: I feel that we are created to receive but more importantly we are created to give. Our idea of giving is giving in any way possible. If you gain a level of knowledge, if you've gone through a season, we give by sharing our experiences. One way of giving for me is a walk initiative I started called 'Sons, stop shooting our sons.' It is based off some of the increase in gun violence in 2018, and the purpose was to bring the community together. It was to show unity and even some healing to those who experienced gun violence or have been affected by gun violence. This is a form of giving for me because we bring them together, we walk, we bbq after, and try to encourage. The walk initiative is a prayer walk where we intercede and stand in the gap through prayer. The component of prayer for the community is very important to me. That's a form of giving. It's so important to give especially when you see the blessings that come our way. It is really important for us to give. The other part of giving is just being a community business. We have a mentorship program called AMS100. With AMS100, parents get discount (half the price) haircuts for their boys as well as mentorship through conversation. There are so many different forms of giving.
Eusi: On many occasions, I've had clients who are married come in and tell me that they are having some issues having children. You always have to listen to the Spirit about what to say because it's a sensitive topic, especially when you have your own. You counsel and wait for that moment to interject and say, 'you know what, you have to believe together. Regardless of what your faith is.' You’re going to have to learn to believe together. They've come back and said 'my wife and I are now expecting a child.' It's a good feeling knowing that you can give that kind of advice and counsel to these families who have everything but without a child, have felt incomplete. You feel good that you've added some sort of healing to them.
What would you say to Black men regarding their importance as a father?
Eusi: Being a Black man and being a father is everything. It's everything. We see that a lot of our black male children have mental health issues. If you look at the root, if you come to the origin of it, it is the issue of our fathers missing. The position of a father is very, very crucial. I see and hear daily news, whether it be social media or people calling me, about murders and crimes being committed. They have different officers being put on the road now to try to minimize the crime rate, but I don't ever hear anything come up about fathers. It is the core of everything. The core of the issue is that the father is missing. If the father is there and he has been called to be the disciplinarian, he is the foundation. As the word (the bible) tells us, the father being the core of the home and the head of the household, the father's presence causes everything to fall into place. This is a form of order. A lot of things that you see in the society today, it's as a result of lack of fathers. It's not that children are born evil. You've never seen a racist baby or a criminal baby, it's learned behaviour. So as long as the father is in the picture and is present, he is able to guide them. That even goes for those fathers who are present but using the excuse that fatherhood is hard for me because 'I didn't know my father,' I myself didn't know my father. I only learned how to be the father that I am out of hurt. I really didn't have an example. I know what I felt like because I too was a child once. I just knew that what I felt, I didn't want my children to feel the same thing. The first thing I can give without cost is just by being there, just my presence alone. It became kinda easy for me. All the advice that I've been giving them is based off the hurt that I experienced so I was able to help them and guide them, and I have continued to do so. There's no expiration date on my fatherhood. I'm always going to be their father no matter what age they are. So I always think of the timelines and when to say things because you can over lecture as well. You always kinda want to give them their privacy. Whatever seed that you plant into them, you want to stand aside and see if it blooms in the right way. This is the advice I would give to any father. Always be consistent, speak to your children and consistently be there because they need to see the example.
When do you find time to recharge? Individual and not as a couple? Because everyone needs their individual time.
Monique: You really have to be purposeful and make the time. It is really important as you just said, as individuals we need to recharge and collect yourself. Just like any device, the phone being a perfect example (that so many people depend on), if it's dead it's just dead, and if you as a human being overexert yourself with just duties and responsibilities, you will get to empty at some point. I don't try to “find the time”, I'm learning and I have learnt over the years to make the time. It's what we have to do. My husband spoke about order and scheduling, it is so important to really look at our day to day lives on paper. We have to put it in the schedule just like you are booking an appointment. You really gotta put in that time for yourself to have lunch or to say you are going to take a moment for something that makes us feel good. For me, I do stuff for myself on Wednesday; I'll go to a study group or a bible study to recharge. It is one of my greatest ways to recharge and collect myself because a lot of times for me as a woman, it's mental exhaustion. Sometimes physically, we can do everything under the sun, it's rewarding for me to see the gratification of my children eating a good meal or my husband having things done for him that he wants me specifically to do for him, and I will be physically tired. But more than anything, it's mentally exhausting. As a result, I really purpose to take myself away and recharge mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I have to make that time.
Eusi: I tell my family, sleep is physical and rest is spiritual. Rest doesn't mean sleep. They are two different things. Rest is having the spirit rested and it be contented whether it be laying down or if it's doing something you enjoy which is not part of a duty. At that point you are resting. If you are a reader, while you are reading you are resting. If you are a person who is into music and listening to the lyrics of music, as you do that, you are resting. If it is going to a gym, going to a movie, going swimming, participating in sports, whatever your choice is, it is resting, and your sleep is physical. For me, I own a recording studio. I'm a songwriter. Songwriting is something that I've put back into my schedule as of recent. I'm writing music again. I strayed away from it. I did it for most of my life before opening the business and as our family grew, after four or five children, I put it down because I wanted to be a good father. I had to make a choice on what I had to focus on. So I put it down and continued to just build my family knowing that when they grow up, I can possibly go back to it, if it is in God's will for me to do so and glory to God that it did happen. Writing is therapy for me. Now I'm just taking that journey and it's something new to me because I'm used to having my family in that time slot. But I have the blessings of my wife and children. It's what I'm doing at the current moment for my spirituality and to rejuvenate so that I can come back into the family setting.
Do you have any words of wisdom that you can give our readers whether it be in business, life, and or family?
Eusi: 1. You are born looking like your parents and you die looking like your decisions. Your decisions in life are everything. My wife and I can easily do what society does, we can be going to parties, we can be using money to buy expensive cars, we can use the money to travel but we made a decision to run our family. We decided that we wanted to run our family first and our business second. It's something that, if you live long enough, you're able to see the fruits of your labour. It's the best decision I think I've ever made in my life. I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have these children or have her as my wife. I don't know what I would be doing right now. Just thinking back to my younger years, I was just running around without any thought process of what I'm going to do or what my decisions were or where they were going to take me. 2. I try to advise everyone that as you age, make sure that you are able to look at your decisions. If you can't stare at your decisions in the face then you are going to have a lot of issues. As we age, we mature. As you are going forward you have to be able to say, 'can I look at what I've done or anything that I've displayed to anyone in my life, can I look at those decisions in the face?' And that's how I've lived my life by making decisions that I can look in the face. 3. Stay humble in all things that you do no matter what you gain. All the glory goes to God. Don't give yourself too much credit. 4. Know that you've been called in an assignment to be able to help others. 5. You have to have a faith based foundation in order for you to be able to walk through this thing called life.
Monique: Consistency and belief equals results. With everything, nothing is overnight. The marriage that we are standing on, that is a process. Don't deny the process. Every good thing is a process. I know with society now, we want overnight results, we want these microwave solutions, these microwave relationships, but those things don't have roots and don't have a foundation. If you understand that good things come with a process, you will be okay. With the process comes some patience, tests, and it comes with time; but you will get the results if you stay consistent.
Read 2463 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 September 2019 13:37
Lucy Oneka is a playwright and journalist. She has covered many stories for Toronto based newspapers such as the East York Observer, the Scarborough Observer, and the Toronto Observer. Lucy’s other passion is music. She is a two time semi-finalist of the prestigious UK Song Writing Contest and recently released her own debut gospel album, “You Are Faithful”.
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