Pinky Cole, founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan, a vegan burger chain based in Atlanta, Georgia recently made it to Forbes ‘Women Of The Next 1,000’ List. This year’s list highlights ‘small-scale super-achievers defying the odds’ – presenting ‘self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups’ with under US$10 million in revenue or funding.
Featured amongst other women entrepreneurs is Pinky Cole, founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger chain restaurant who made it to the list due to her philanthropy work, conducted through her organization ‘The Pinky Cole Foundation’, a nonprofit that aims to narrow the generational wealth gap.
During the pandemic, Cole’s foundation helped pay the rent of local businesses in Atlanta that were affected due to the lockdowns. Cole also joined forces with Impossible Foods, the food tech famous for its plant-based burgers, to donate thousands of these foods to essential workers including the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation and the Atlanta Police Department last year following which a service that compiles emergency food orders required due to the pandemic called ATLStrong was set up.
Cole said: ” We’re appreciative of our essential workers as they have been spending countless hours to help us push through this pandemic. They’re risking both their lives and time away from their families to make sure our city stays strong in our fight.”
Aside from this, Cole along with Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks owner Derrick Hayes helped out a black family whose father was shot by police, through a car, college scholarships for his children, and life insurance policies.
Commenting her on her philanthropy efforts, Forbes wrote: “In 2020, she partnered with Clark Atlanta University to provide the children of police brutality victim Rayshard Brooks $600,000 in scholarships to the historically Black university. And in January, she teamed up with Steve Harvey and Georgia Power to help more than 100 Atlanta residents with past-due utility bills get services restored and bills made current for the new year.”
While her brand name may seem controversial, Slutty Vegan is not a reference to sex, rather, Cole uses the term to describe ‘the ultimate euphoric experience’ from eating a a plant burger.
Offering menu items with names like ‘Sloppy Toppy,’ ‘One Night Stand,’ ‘Ménage à Trois’ and ‘Hollywood Hooker,’ Slutty vegan’s concept goal is to make plant-based dishes more accessible — and, fundamentally, to break down barriersPinky Cole, Founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan
At HBCU Clark Atlanta University, Cole recently opened two new Slutty Vegan locations in 2020 and is developing a Bar Vegan at Ponce City Market, in addition to working on a vegan cookbook. But life hasn’t always been a smooth sailing for the 33 year-old first-generation American born to Jamaican immigrants. As a child, her father was jailed for drug violations and deported. He was an inspirational figure in her life despite this. Sharing how she inherited her father’s passion for entrepreneurship, selling everything from frozen cups to candy as a child, she said: “I realized growing up that I really like business. My father was an illegal businessman, but nonetheless, he was a businessman, and once he went to prison for 22 years, I adopted his business style, but the legal way.”
In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, Cole, who has been vegan for over a decade, understands that veganism is mostly associated with wealthy white people. “Offering menu items with names like ‘Sloppy Toppy,’ ‘One Night Stand,’ ‘Ménage à Trois’ and ‘Hollywood Hooker,’ Slutty vegan’s concept goal is to make plant-based dishes more accessible — and, fundamentally, to break down barriers.”
She further added that she would like for veganism to be something that becomes a staple in inner-city communities and she wants to help people open up their consciousness and change their mind about vegan food.
A case study in Brazil where a team of researchers delved into a participatory process in climate change mitigation planning found data where women were still left out through policymaking processes were highly participatory and involving different sectors of a local population and according to Myrian Del Vecchio de Lima who has worked with climate change governance, the study stresses how traditional gender roles continue to exist even in policymaking processes.
According to a recent report, women own more than 11 million small businesses in the U.S. and are responsible for nearly US$2 trillion in economic activity every year however several female entrepreneurs are expecting lower revenues due to the pandemic.
However women entrepreneurs are emerging more resilent and continuing to make huge strides for instance, according to a new ranking compiled by the review platform Yelp, Kelley Farm Kitchen, a women-owned vegan restaurant in the U.S. state of West Virginia has been named as the top place to eat this year with Yelp stating: “Searches for women-owned businesses were up 2,739% in 2020, compared to 2019, and mentions of plant-based in reviews were up 26% for the same time period.”
Announcing its new batch of startups joining its accelerator programme as the fifth cohort, the ProVeg Incubator has six food techs working on sustainable solutions ranging from algae-based dairy to vegan chocolate out of which 10 of the 17 entrepreneurs in the group are women, marking the first time ProVeg has welcomed a female-majority cohort.
For women looking at connecting with mission-driven employers in the plant-based field, Vegan Women Summit announced that it will host the VWS Connect event series, the world’s first job networking series aimed at building a diverse workforce in the plant-based field.
To register for the VWS Connect, attendees can sign up here.
Lead image courtesy of Pinky Cole.