Could you use a little more positivity and optimism in your life right now? Wouldn’t it be a pleasant change of pace to have a discussion that didn’t focus on COVID-19, our economy or politics?!

Justin and Monique Honaman love to curate conversations. In fact, their mantra is “BIG talk, not small talk.” Think about how energized you feel when you have a great conversation with someone … the time passes quickly, you are engaged, you learn something, you laugh together, you empathize, you walk away ready to make change. In contrast, think about those conversations that are lifeless and dull … where you learn nothing, when time slows to painfully slow, and where all you are doing is mentally figuring out your escape plan.

As founders of Contender Brands, the Honamans have made it their mission to create conversation-starter card games designed to generate amazing and impactful conversations. What started as a single idea in 2016 for a game called Cocktail Farty (Friends Admitting Real Truths) has flourished into a collection of seven different conversation-starter card games that include Whine Barrel, KegO’Cards, Brew-Aha, KIC-Start, Kiss’N’Cards and, now, their latest creation, SPARK!

At the beginning of 2020, the Honamans were considering a few different “themes” for the design of their next game. One of those themes was a concept centered on get-to-know-you questions that focused entirely on positive, uplifting, inspiring and motivating content. Nothing snarky, nothing whiny, nothing negative (note, none of their questions contain anything lewd or risqué), family and friend-ready. The idea was to create something that would be equally appropriate as icebreaker, get-to-know-you conversation starters for church or synagogue small groups, business teams, boards, service organizations, as well as your typical family and friends groups.

A chance conversation with a stranger they met in Atlanta in January 2020 nudged them towards creating the “inspiration” game they were considering. When they ran into this person again the following month in New York City, the Honamans followed their own advice that there is always a reason for these types of “coincidences.” They began designing their newest game, and the ideas flowed quickly. “We knew we wanted something lively that would convey light and energy, and the name “SPARK!” took hold … we wanted to spark conversations. We sent our ideas to our design team at Henderson Shapiro Peck in Roswell and they returned with the perfect design leveraging bright colors while maintaining consistency with our packaging format,” said Justin Honaman.

The Honamans were off and running with their design, but they could never have predicted what would happen next. As they were in the process of curating the final 149 questions that would make the cut to be included in the game, the world began to change. COVID-19 hit. The country shut down. People sheltered in place. We stopped going to work. We stopped meeting friends for dinner. Suddenly Zoom was how we connected. We encountered new levels of divisiveness over politics and social injustice.

Never before had there been such a need for an infusion of positivity and inspiration into everyday conversations, and the Honamans put their design on overdrive. At record speed, they finished designing and manufacturing the game.

2020 has been a year that’s pretty much indescribable. We’ve stopped doing so much of what we took for granted like going to the movies or concerts. We aren’t seeing people and having casual conversations in our workplace. Wearing masks, and not seeing people smile, has had the negative impact of us not connecting with one another.  People are getting tired of doing jig saw puzzles and paint by numbers! We are craving more connection, and SPARK! is the perfect answer for getting to know your neighbors, your small groups, your work teams, your families … and perfect for that socially-distanced neighborhood happy hour in the cul-de-sac since we (sadly) won’t be spending so much time watching college football this Fall! The holidays are right around the corner and SPARK! makes a perfect gift.

The time is right for SPARK! Monique Honaman says, “Our inspiration comes from recognizing the truly wonderful relationships that are made when people take the time to really talk, listen and connect to one another.”

Are you ready to SPARK! a great conversation? Here are a few questions to get you started!

  • What is the most adventurous thing you have done in life?
  • Share the most inspirational or miraculous thing you have experienced? What happened?
  • What are the things that make you laugh out loud? Why?
  • When was the last time you got stuck in a rut? How did you get out of it?
  • When was the last time you astonished yourself? What happened?

You can find all 7 games locally at Johns Creek Books and Gifts . They are also available nationally at Tommy Bahama stores or online at Amazon, Goodsey, and Etsy.  You can learn more about Justin and Monique Honaman at contenderbrands.com.

  • Brew-aHa: Brew great conversations. Think about sitting down with a cup of coffee and a good friend to tackle some big conversations.
  • Cocktail Farty: FART – Friends Admitting Real Truths. Conversation-starters with a few “explosive” questions peppered throughout.
  • KegO’Cards: Tap In. Talk out. A little less “therapy” so we don’t scare off any people who get nervous about having a deep conversation!
  • KIC-Start: Teaching kids the art of conversational curiosity (ask, answer, listen, and share); perfect for kids ages 6-16.
  • Kiss’N’Cards: Will you Kiss? Or Dismiss! 150 questions to ask when you are dating!
  • SPARK!: Leveraging inspiration and positivity to create connections through conversation.
  • Whine Barrel: Uncork it, and whine away! These questions get you thinking about so many important things in life!