PreMadonna Thomas, founder, Premadonna’s Cookware
Thanks to food delivery apps, getting a quick meal on the table is easier than ever. But for busy people looking for healthier options, kitchen appliances that make cooking fast and easy are the go-to. Countertop appliances like instant pots, pressure cookers, and air fryers have gained popularity, with dozens of cookware brands providing their own version. But PreMadonna Thomas, saw a gap in the market and filled it with her brand, Premadonna’s Cookware.
Thomas has always loved cooking, but as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur, she didn’t always have time to prepare complicated meals. Although there were options like pressure cookers on the market, none of them seemed to appeal to her tastes. In a $5.8 billion industry where Black women founders are scarce, Thomas rose to the challenge.
“There was nothing in the industry for me…All the pressure cookers were older and traditional. So, I came up with a digital model. I knew that people would adapt to something that was vibrant, unique, and resourceful for all types of working people,” Thomas explained.
Premadonna’s Cookware stands out from the competition with its diverse product line. While many Black- and women-owned culinary brands focus on cookware, appliances, cookbooks, or seasonings, Thomas has successfully taken on the full range. In addition to the pressure cooker, Premadonna’s Cookware offers many other appliances designed for speed and convenience in the kitchen, including air fryers, deep fryers, and blenders. She also offers a wide range of seasonings (endorsed by celebrities like Rihanna and the Kardashians) and a best-selling cookbook.
With every new product she launches, Thomas focuses on fulfilling unmet needs. When she’s developing new ideas, she asks: “What are other brands not offering? What demographics are not being touched? What functional features are not available or accessible?”
Premadonna’s Cookware isn’t the first time the innovative entrepreneur has started a successful business by improving on an existing product. After the birth of her second child, Thomas had been searching for a way to feel confident about her body again. She bought a girdle from a strip mall in Miami but noticed that the small sizes didn’t accommodate curvier bodies. So, Thomas hired a seamstress to improve on the design, coined the term ‘waist trainer’ to appeal to younger women, and launched Waist Gang Society.
The brand grew quickly, gaining endorsement from Kim and Khloe Kardashian. Thomas struggled to keep up with the demand that attention from the Waist Gang Society garnered. “I was understaffed, understocked, and undervalued because I didn’t think I could get to a level I thought of as impossible. But I don’t look at those choices as mistakes; I look at them as lessons,” Thomas said.
She learned quickly from those errors, growing Waist Gang Society to a profitable company, before pivoting to pursue her passion for making quality cookware accessible to everyone. Thomas advocates for passion as a key business principle. For her, passion has inspired a dedication to customer service and brand experience. She has always gone the extra mile to give her customers her best, including rigorously testing every product in her personal kitchen before launch.
“I think that a lot of businesses make mistakes because they’re so anxious to start, and they go with the first sample they get. With my pressure cooker and air fryer, the process took almost six months, and I tested six different models before I chose which one I wanted to go with. It was more costly, but I’m here to provide the best quality,” she explained.
Thomas noted that her careful testing process has helped her prevent the manufacturing defects and delays that can damage brand reputation and customer trust. She’s also extremely careful about the manufacturers she works with. Before launching Premadonna’s Cookware, Thomas searched through Google results, We Chat forums, and books about product sourcing to make sure she was investing in the best vendors.
But Thomas identifies her warehouse as her most important business investment. She upgraded from a 400 sq. foot space to an 8,000 sq. foot warehouse that has allowed her to avoid clutter, keep more inventory in stock, and give her staff a space to work.
“Being able to have the product in hand and somewhere my staff could work from really birthed the success of my brand. That space was a great investment.”
Thomas has learned the importance of pouring into her business, but she’s just as committed to pouring into her community through philanthropy. Raised by a single mother, Thomas grew up seeing the way that the community supported her family through childcare programs and food banks. Now, she’s using her business to give back.
Thomas has already begun to blaze a trail for Black women and girls in cookware with Premadonna, but she’s also working to give them the resources to follow in her footsteps. She is currently planning a program to provide free coaching and training to Black girls interested in culinary arts and business. The program will feature workshops, webinars, and guest speakers from across the industry and will be hosted online in July 2021.
“When I was younger, the community always helped my mom…. I always said that if I had the opportunity, I wanted to do the same for my community. Without my support system and community behind me, I would not be who I am. So, I want this program to help them not just monetize but create something that will create income for their families for generations to come,” Thomas said.
I am the founder of New Girl on the Block, a mentorship platform for millennial women who are dealing with major life and career transitions. I use creative education to