Pinky Cole, the founder of Slutty Vegan, joins us in the Shade Room to discuss her successful restaurant empire, purchasing an entire block in Atlanta, and more! (Exclusive).
If you live in Atlanta, you’re probably already familiar with Pinky Cole and her enormously successful restaurant empire Slutty Vegan—and now that her business has reached mainstream fame, she’ll be stopping by The Shade Room to tell us all about it!
Pinky Cole has made Slutty Vegan a phenomenon in just four years, landing her on the ‘Forbes Next 1000’ list and the ‘Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ list. We had a one-on-one conversation with her about her career, what’s next, and more.
Cole discussed to us why she selected vegan food to start her business, starting with her first Atlanta store. “I started Slutty Vegan in 2018 after a late-night hankering for vegan comfort cuisine. It occurred to me as I was sitting in my bedroom.
There’s no weird backstory to the concept. I started with a ghost kitchen and discovered that I was solving an issue that other people were experiencing as well. Slutty Vegan is a great way to rethink cuisine, and I was assisting vegan comfort food cravings.
“That was the first Slutty Vegan, and I did it my way, with my blueprint, and I didn’t care what anyone said,” she explained.
You’ll quickly discover that Slutty Vegan restaurants are concentrated in largely Black areas, which Pinky Cole claims is not by chance. “Atlanta has a lot of strong Black cultural connections, and it was incredibly essential to me to give back to the city’s Black community through Slutty Vegan and the Pinky Cole Foundation,” she explained. At Slutty Vegan, there’s a strong sense of belonging. All of our locations are in food deserts or regions where we know we can make a difference in the community.”
She’s following her promise about improving the Atlanta community, as she and her partner Derrick Hayes (who both were covered ‘ESSENCE’ magazine) just purchased a whole block with significant development plans:
“Yes, we are not only restaurateurs, but also business partners committed to affecting positive change in today’s society through our communities. As a result, Derrick and I purchased the block and will continue to do all we can to [provide] neighbors in need. We intend to build community centers for youth, continue to provide jobs, and share our knowledge. We want to share what we’ve learnt with the rest of the community. The Square 1: The Life Experience Endeavor, which began in June 2021, is our most recent initiative. By 2023, Square 1 hopes to have provided life insurance to 25,000 black males who will not have to pay for it. Prudential was one of our partners. This is just one more way we’re leveraging our platforms to give back and make a difference in the communities that support us in everything we do!”
Cole and Hayes have recently been thrust into the national spotlight thanks to a stylish cover feature in ‘ESSENCE,’ and she reveals it was a dream come true! “Being on the cover of ‘ESSENCE’ was always a dream of mine growing up, and now I can say that I not only achieved that objective, but I was able to do so with my life partner.”
We made history by being the first restaurateurs to be featured on the cover during Black History Month. ‘ESSENCE’ usually covers entertainers, but we shattered the internet with our cover, which performed exceptionally well. We want every upcoming generation of young people to believe that they can attain their wildest aspirations. I’m a little rough around the edges from East Baltimore, but I’m the CEO of the world-famous Slutty Vegan!”
Cole says it’s been a fantastic experience because of the enormous response to Slutty Vegan. “I’m ecstatic at how well Slutty Vegan has gone over in the United States and worldwide. I was simply attempting to resolve a problem for myself and the community. When individuals were inspired and motivated by my work, I knew I was on the right track with Slutty Vegan. It’s incredible to have my community look up to me in that way.”
Pinky Cole, on the other hand, isn’t solely focused on her single journey as a successful millennial restaurateur—she hopes that her narrative will encourage others to follow in her footsteps. “Slutty Vegan is something I absolutely believe in,” she said. I want them to eat healthier, exercise more, and think more clearly.
I’ve always wanted to be my own boss since I was a kid. I wanted to make my own possibilities as well as provide opportunities for others. My suggestion is to pick something you love and believe in, regardless of what others say. Also, remember to give back to your community as much as you receive.”
We love seeing so much #BlackGirlMagic on display, and we’re excited to see what Pinky Cole and her Slutty Vegan company come up with next!