At 34, she’s in line to build a billion-dollar vegan food brand after losing 1st restaurant to fire

Abu Mubarik February 23, 2022
Pinky Cole is owner of Slutty Vegan. Photo: Slutty Vegan/FastCompany

It occurred six years ago. Pinky Cole recalls her eatery in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood going up in flames. She watched as a grease fire destroyed her restaurant in 2016. Cole had cashed out her 401K and took a loan from a family friend to open the eatery in 2014.

Her woes were even compounded by the fact that the damage from the fire was not covered by the proper form of insurance. Six years down the line, the Jamaican American is back on her feet with a successful business venture.

Prior to her latest moves, she returned to the world of TV as a producer and casting director for more than two years after the fire. However, in 2018, Cole was ready to enter the business world again with a new startup, according to CNBC Make It.

She ventured into the vegan industry as a side hustle. A vegan for a decade, she named her new venture “Slutty Vegan.” She ran the business for four months in a shared commercial kitchen and was subsequently fired from her day job for focusing too much on her new business.

She then expanded Slutty Vegan to include a food truck, and then to her first brick-and-mortar location in January 2019. Over 1000 people patronized her restaurant when it opened. She is now confident of making Slutty Vegan a billion-dollar brand in the next few years, CNBC Make It reports.

Cole runs her business with some 36 employees and although her physical shop opened in 2019, the infusion of the southern flavors into her dishes makes her food different from other vegan restaurants. “I wanted to negate all these notions that only certain kinds of people can eat vegan food,” Cole says. “The audience is the meat-eater. I love when … they’re pleasantly surprised.”

Cole, whose parents are Jamaican immigrants, hopes to use her vegan restaurant to build generational wealth for her family and others in the Black community.

Beyond making money, the 34-year-old is also a philanthropist. She is the founder of Pinky Cole Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at empowering generations of color to win in life, financially, and in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams. The foundation has paid off student loans.

In fact, Cole has a record for providing free meals to nursing homes. She also assisted with the payment of tuition fees for 30 Clark Atlanta students and was a key figure in the funeral of Nigel Cole by helping to pay for his funeral. Nigel was a 15-year-old gay teen who committed suicide after being bullied constantly.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 23, 2022


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