From her early days in a shared kitchen to a food truck to now owning three locations across Georgia, Aisha “Pinky” Cole has built a multi-million-dollar empire. The serial entrepreneur feeds Atlanta and surrounding cities with her vegan burger joint Slutty Vegan.
Vegans, vegetarians and food lovers alike will wait hours in line for a taste of Slutty Vegan’s plant-based burgers, including the notable Sloppy Toppy or One Night Stand burger. Her clientele includes Atlanta natives, travelers as far as Florida, and a bevy of celebrities from Queen Latifah to Chloe Bailey to Shaquille O’Neal to politicians like U.S. Senator Cory Booker and former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
After welcoming new love, a baby, and opening her fourth Slutty Vegan location in 2021, Pinky Cole is far from being done with breaking barriers in the name of good food.
Atlanta Black Star caught up with the Slutty Vegan CEO, who shared how she manifested her thriving business and discussed a partnership with the online banking platform Varo Bank.
“Well, I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I still got a long way to go, but I think I’m in a really, really good place. I had a great vision for my life and I knew that I was going to be doing a lot of really big things in and around my community, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Cole, who stopped eating meat in 2007, said going vegan was “the best decision I ever made in my life.”
The Clark Atlanta University graduate formerly served as a TV producer on “The Maury Show,” among other series. By 2014, she’d used her business mindset to open a Jamaican restaurant in New York City. Things went south after a grease fire destroyed the building, which prompted Cole to create the vision for Slutty Vegan.
“My life is exactly what I remember as a kid because I’ve always manifested this,” she said. “I knew that I would be great. I knew that I was going to be big. I knew that I was going to change the world and I’m actually doing it now.”
Cole opened the first brick-and-mortar Slutty Vegan location in Atlanta’s Westview neighborhood by January 2019, followed by two more locations the following year with socially distanced lines stretching down the block. While most restaurants struggled to stay open during the pandemic, Cole opened her cocktail lounge, Bar Vegan, a fourth Slutty Vegan location in Duluth, Georgia, and closed on a forthcoming Slutty Vegan location in Columbus, Georgia.
“I tell people the power at the tongue is so real because what you say will become. What you say out of your mouth, you will manifest the good, bad or indifferent. And I just manifested all the good stuff,” Cole explained.
Cole is equally passionate about veganism as she is about serving her community through the Pinky Cole Foundation. After paying rent for struggling local businesses and tuition for dozens of students at Clark Atlanta University, her next step is to help others achieve financial wealth.
“For me, it’s bigger than food. First, I want people to reimagine food in a way that they’ve never done it before. You could just eat good food that so happens to not be food that creates guilt around it,” Cole expressed. “I also want people to learn about entrepreneurship through what I’m building. I want people to understand that you can build an ecosystem around people as long as you have the right resources and tools. So when you see Pinky Cole and Slutty Vegan, it literally is bigger than food.”
To enact more change in her community, the 34-year-old philanthropist partnered with Varo Bank to offer support and financial literacy to other Atlanta entrepreneurs. Prizes for the Varo x Pinky Cole Giveback Sweepstakes include cash, a year of mentorship from Cole and a year of financial coaching from bestselling author and Varo’s personal finance advocate Kevin L. Matthews II.
“When I got involved with Varo, it was just a no-brainer. This is already in alignment with who I am and what I do. I believe in entrepreneurship,” said Cole. “[Varo] is a cool company. It’s an all-digital bank that really wants to foster financial literacy to people who want it. And that’s exactly what I do. So our partnership together was fantastic.”
She added, “We provided 40 entrepreneurs with their own new businesses and new LLCs that they didn’t have to pay for. We paid the bill so that they could jump-start their career, their business, all the things that they want to do and show how much we care about the community and uplifting the community.”
Visit one of Slutty Vegan’s many locations in Georgia and stay tuned for what Pinky Cole has in store next.
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