Pinky Cole has made some extraordinary moves in business over the last few years. Slutty Vegan, her vegan flagship operation, has grown from a single food truck to multiple brick and mortar locations throughout Atlanta. Her fifth Slutty Vegan opened earlier this week in Athens. She also founded Bar Vegan, an adult venue that provides 100% vegan options.
A recent funding initiative led by her chief revenue officer, Jason Crain, resulted in a $25 million investment; this round of funding gives Slutty Vegan a net worth of over $100 million. Even more remarkable is that much of Cole’s business growth occurred in only four years, and during a pandemic.
Cole has recently marketed a successful brand of vegan food dip, and is set to release a vegan cookbook entitled “Eat Plants, B*tch!” The 34-year-old Cole also plans to expand the Slutty Vegan brand into major cities such as New York City and Baltimore, places where she has formerly resided.
The Clark Atlanta University alum is focused on eventually making Slutty Vegan a billion dollar enterprise. And evidently, she wants others in her community to enjoy the same kind of success.
While serving as the speaker at Clark Atlanta’s 2022 commencement ceremony, Cole teamed up with Varo Bank to award each of the over 800 graduates with their own limited liability company, or LLC. An LLC is an organization that allows an individual to conduct business while simultaneously protecting their personal assets.
“I have partnered with Varo Bank to provide every single graduate in this audience with a new LLC, and a path to entrepreneurship,” Cole said during her commencement speech.
The cost for establishing an LLC is about $500, so this endeavor by Cole and Varo Bank could potentially cost more than $400,000. Students can use the LLC to establish almost any kind of business they desire, but that business must be started within 30 days of the graduation ceremony.
“This is no gimmick,” Cole said during an interview shortly after the graduation ceremony. “I really want people to win through entrepreneurship. That’s how I’ve been able to win and grow my business in four years. And if I can do it, everybody can do it.”
During the commencement speech, Cole talked about persevering despite difficulties she faced while trying to secure employment after graduating from Clark Atlanta with a degree in mass communications. After experiencing several difficulties, Cole relocated to Atlanta undeterred. She used those negative experiences to fuel her passion. $100 million later, Cole has made it clear that the relentless pursuit of a dream will eventually pay off.
“I am telling you this because 13 years later, that same broken and broke little girl now owns and operates not one, but two multi-million dollar businesses in the middle of a pandemic,” Cole told the audience.
Cole has appeared in several national publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Forbes, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine and was recently featured on the front cover of ESSENCE. In May 2019, Pinky established the nonprofit Pinky Cole Foundation, which advocates for empowering individuals of color, their families and their communities.
At the end of Cole’s commencement speech, she shared more advice with the graduates. “Here is the truth: you don’t know what you’re made of until it’s been battle-tested and proven,” Cole said. “You don’t know the grit and tenacity you have until your back is up against the wall.”
She then announced her partnership with Varo Bank, the first all-digital, nationally chartered U.S. consumer bank designed to make financial inclusion and opportunity a reality for all.
“Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner,” Cole said. “Every single graduate will walk away with their own business.”