/  03.31.2022
WATCH

S2 E11 | Pinky Cole & D Hayes

00:58:19

Co-hosts Big Bank, DJ Scream and Baby Jade delivered an extra delicious episode of the “Big Facts” podcast with special guest Aisha Cole (a.k.a Pinky), the founder and CEO of popular vegan restaurant chain Slutty Vegan. She was joined by the CEO of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, D. Hayes. During their interview, the foodie couple talked about running successful businesses and what it’s like living in a household with only one partner who subscribes to a vegan lifestyle.

Pinky revealed that before meeting Hayes, she vowed to never get involved with someone who didn’t share her dietary values as a strict vegan. However, the 34-year-old said that after their encounter, that plan went out the window. “In the household, it’s really cool because I know how to cook for a vegan and a non-vegan, and he don’t impede on my lifestyle. He don’t be like, ‘Why you eating that?’ I eat what I eat, and he eats what he eats, and we respect each other,” Pinky explained. 

Hayes highlighted his lady’s exceptional cooking skills, noting that his health has benefitted from their differing eating habits. “Honestly, since we’ve been together, I’ve been eating a lot different,” he admitted. “But, I’m putting my swag and my seasoning on it and all that just to give it that taste, so it’s not just, you know, vegetables. We’re able to help each other out.”

He continued, “I don’t eat beef as much I used to. I’m more seafood. I love seafood. Anybody that knows me knows I ate seafood my whole life. And, I’m able to give everybody everything they want, whether it’s beef, chicken or salmon. I’m catering to everything.” 

Later, the couple opened up about their humble beginnings as entrepreneurs. Pinky reflected on her full-circle moment, noting that her first-ever radio interview was on the “Big Facts” podcast. She admitted that things weren’t always easy. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur and a hustler. For those that don’t know my story, my father did 22 years in prison. So, I grew up in the prison system. Obviously, I wasn’t behind bars, but I had to go to prison and get swaddled down every single time we went to go see my dad. You only got two hours. So, my mindset was like, ‘This ain’t my life. I ain’t gon’ do this.’”

Elsewhere in the interview, Pinky shared a piece of advice while reflecting on her initial restaurant Pinky’s, in which she sold meat options while maintaining a vegan lifestyle. “I wasn’t being authentic with who I was. I was not living in my truth,” she began. “And this is such a serious conversation for people to understand — especially entrepreneurs that are listening to this. You have literally got to walk in your truth because if you don’t, shit will fall apart, and that’s what happened to it.”

The essential life lessons didn’t stop there. In 2016, Pinky’s Jamaican-American-style eatery in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood went up in flames due to a grease fire. The Baltimore native explained how her lack of experience led to some costly mistakes. She failed to acquire proper insurance for the eatery and when the fire settled, the first-time business owner was left with nothing. 

Pink insisted, “But I’m so glad it happened. I lost my car; it got repoed. I got kicked out of my apartment. I went flat broke, and everything that I touched that used to turn to gold was nothing now. But, I needed all those things to happen because all it was, was very expensive ass school. That expensive school taught me how to be a better entrepreneur, how to be a better leader so that when I created Slutty Vegan, I’m like, ‘I been here. I know what this feels like. I know what to do different.’”

Veganism is still a new concept to many. However, The Vegan Society reported that the lifestyle has been around for thousands of years, with evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products as far back as 2,000 years ago.

“I wanted to positively manipulate my situation by putting food in areas that they probably otherwise would not see them. So, when you think about vegan food, you think about them in rich, white neighborhoods. We putting vegan food in the hood. We putting vegan food in areas that are historic. We making people think about vegan food in ways that they never thought about it before,” Pinky explained. 

The businesswoman continued, “Funny enough, 97 percent of the people that come to Slutty Vegan are not even vegan. They’re meat-eaters. So I’m like, ‘OK, the intention is met.’ Not only do I do that, I have a 70 percent to 30 percent portfolio ratio where I purchase most of my properties, and then I rent the 30 percent of them. The reason I purchase them is because it’s not just about food — I’m building an ecosystem where I’m showing people that you can literally go into these communities and raise the value of these communities just with your presence alone.”

Hayes inserted that their main goal is to lead by example. “They see two other people that look just like them do it, and they got some cash lying around — ‘Let’s go buy some blocks. Let’s go put some money in together and do the same thing.’” He also spoke on the couple’s latest initiative to provide life insurance to 25,000 Black men by December 2023. “If you’re a Black male and your household is making less than $30,000 in income, we [have] $50,000 life insurance policies through Prudential; it’s not a gimmick,”  Hayes said. “We got the ball in our hands. Why not do it? We got the voice.”

Still, balancing multiple businesses in various industries is often stressful. Hayes shared some of the ways he and Pinky balance their personal and professional lives. “The other person gotta be on the same page that you’re on. That’s the only way shit going to work,” he explained. Through supporting each other, Hayes said they have established a system that works for them. 

“If I had an opportunity — and I’m pretty sure if she has an opportunity — if it don’t make sense for the both of us, we don’t move on it because we understand we pushing together. And yeah, we do have our own separate situations and entities, but we know together we are much more powerful,” he insisted. 

Pinky said being a billionaire is a goal she aspires to, “but it don’t have nothing to do with money.” She elaborated, “It’s the idea of impact and creating something that has never been done before from where I’m from. Every single little boy and girl can see me — this regular degular girl from around the way — and say, ‘I can because Pinky Cole did.’” 

Hayes and Pinky didn’t hesitate to stress the hard work and dedication it took to reach their level of success. However, Pinky admitted, “Everybody ain’t designed to be an entrepreneur, and that’s OK.” 

She added, “There are some people in the world that are better support systems than being an entrepreneur. How could I be as successful as I am if I didn’t have my assistant, who just makes sure that my life is in order? She knows how to support people. That’s how the world go ’round. You need people that are soldiers — and not everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, and that’s OK. But, as Pinky Cole, that is my life’s desire: to create the opportunity and to show the world what you can do.” 

As always, if liked what you heard, be sure to stay tuned every week for new episodes of “Big Facts.” Also, don’t forget to watch the latest show above.

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