From Pageant Queen to CEO
Boutique owner Roneshia Ray transforms clients with more than just clothing.
As a former beauty-pageant queen, Roneshia Ray knows how it feels to wear a crown. The influential native Houstonian has made her mark on pageant stages across the country—and on countless lives through her advocacy work. Ray, whose accolades include Miss North America International and Miss Black Texas, to name a few, is also the proud owner of The Modern Day Queen Collection, a boutique located in Upper Kirby filled with unique pieces and one-of-a-kind finds.
Viewing her shop as more than just a place to find stylish clothes, Ray also passes out metaphorical crowns to all the “queens” who shop at her store, inspiring them to live their best, most confident lives.
“I had just given up my title as Miss Black America and I knew I wanted to stay in the fashion-pageant industry, but I didn’t necessarily know how,” Ray explains. “I had a closet full of gowns and cocktail dresses, and girls would come to me to rent the gowns. That’s how The Modern Day Queen Collection got started.”
Soon after establishing her brand, Ray saw an opportunity to expand outside of the pageant world. “Pageants aren’t just gowns. People need interview outfits and everyday wear,” she says. “We transitioned into ready-to-wear in the last four years, and it’s really just kind of taken off from there.”
The world of fashion merchandising has always been of interest to Ray, but she started from square one when she decided to open her collection, literally pounding the pavement to make her dreams come true. “I took a flight to LA on a whim. I had one vendor, and I was hop- ing that with that one vendor I could find the rest that I was looking for. I walked 48 blocks and almost 28,000 steps to find the vendors that I needed for my company.” Her determination and people skills paid off. “Once I found them, I built really great relationships and they would send me items that I felt matched my brand.”
The boutique boasts some unique finds, along with designs created by Ray herself, including dresses, tops, and rompers. “The Modern Day Queen Collection is for the queen who is never afraid to be overdressed or stand out in a room,” she says. “Most of the things that we have in the store are extra! It may be just an exaggerated sleeve or fringes, but there’s always something special about the pieces that we choose to put in the store and online.”
The entrepreneur also makes giving back to her community a priority. “We do pop-ups where we open the store to different organizations for a shopping night out. We did one with a breast cancer awareness organization called SurviveHER, for example. They rented out the shop at no charge, hosted an informational event, and then customers were able to shop. We always try to give at least 5 to 10 percent of our proceeds [from those events] back to the organization, as well.”
As a Black lesbian business owner, the impact of Ray’s position is not lost on her. She describes her style as a mix between Diana Ross and the badass fictional TV character Olivia Pope, from the ABC show Scandal.
“I always say I’m a triple minority. My secret weapon, however, is that I can identify across a spectrum of so many things. I know a lot of Black business owners like me who are the first in their family to ever own any type of business. It’s hard, but there’s a sense of pride in knowing that we’re breaking generational curses. We are also setting the example for the younger members of our family,” she notes, thinking of her young nieces and nephews. “If they ever want to own a business but are scared to do so, they shouldn’t be, because their aunt has already done it!”
While Ray wants to make sure her customers walk out of her shop feeling fabulous on the outside, it’s all about the confidence within that motivates her to push the needle even further with her brand. “I absolutely love when people come to the store and they think, ‘Oh, I’ll have to hide this’ or ‘This doesn’t look good on me.’ Then they end up trying on something different that they’d never thought they would’ve and they love it,” she says. “I want people to leave The Modern Day Queen Collection feeling confident, and that they can be that girl or guy on the street—or that queen on the street—that they imagined in their head who’s absolutely fabulous.”
Learn more about The Modern Day Queen Collection at shopmdqc.com.