Transcript: Reinventing Small Business – The Washington Post

by | Sep 19, 2022 | Business

Gift ArticleUnlockThis article is free to access.Why?MS. ABRIL: Hello, and welcome to Washington Post Live. I’m Danielle Abril, tech at work writer for The Washington Post.Today, we’re going to discuss the state of small business in America. A little later, I’ll be joined by the mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, but first, I’d like to start with Pinky Cole. She’s the founder and CEO of Slutty Vegan, a small restaurant chain that specializes in vegan food.Welcome to Washington Post Live, Pinky.MS. COLE: Thank you for having me. So happy to be here.MS. ABRIL: Yeah. And remember we always want to hear from you, our audience. You can share your thoughts and questions for guests on Washington Post Live by tweeting @PostLive.So, Pinky, let’s start off with this company you’ve built. You’ve built it up to be now worth an estimated $100 million. Can you briefly tell us how you started Slutty Vegan, and tell us a little bit about the name.AdvertisementMS. COLE: So, I’m still here trying to figure out how I started Slutty Vegan, and please forgive me. I just had a grand opening yesterday. So, I’ve been screaming all day.But this concept really came out of nowhere. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and about four years ago, I was in my bedroom, and I came up with this idea out of nowhere called “Slutty Vegan.” And I called my friends up, and I said I want to create a concept that is plant‑based, but it has a raunchy, racy flavor but not typically what a vegan restaurant will have. And I want to call it “Slutty Vegan,” and all of my friends, they were like, “Oh, my goodness, Pinky, that’s a really, really good idea.”And do you know when I did that, I didn’t realize I was solving a universal problem, and that was figuring out a way to crack the code of helping people to reimagine food, and when I did that, literally everything went up from there.AdvertisementSo, for the people who don’t know what the business is, it is a 100 percent plant‑based burger joint that was born and bred in the heart of Atlanta, and now we have multiple locations in Atlanta and in several other cities as well.MS. ABRIL: So, you faced some challenges, though, in this process. I understand there was‑‑one of your restaurants lasted two years in the Harlem section of New York. It shut down in 2016. Tell me a little bit about the lessons you learned there.MS. ABRIL: [Laughs] Lessons, so many.So, I had my restaurant from 2014 to 2016, and it was called “Pinky’s Jamaican and American Restaurant,” located in the heart of Harlem. And it was my first opportunity being a restauranteur.Now, half of the time, I did not know what I was doing, right? I went to Google, went to YouTube and learned everything about the restaurant industry, but what I had and what I still have is I got heart, and I’m confident. So, even in the times where I didn’t know what I was doing, I always had confidence.AdvertisementSo, while I had this restaurant, it was seemingly successful. I had lines down the block. People would come. People loved the business, and then I realized that I was putting my blood, sweat, and tears in a business. I knew nothing about restaurant industry. So, the best thing that happened to me, which I didn’t realize at the time, was I had a grease fire, and in that grease fire, everything caught on fire, lost everything because I did not have fire insurance. And because I didn’t have fire insurance, I wasn’t able to salvage all of the items inside of the space. So, I literally went flat broke, lost everything, and left the restaurant industry. But what I learned in that moment is I learned resilience. I learned that even in the hardest of times, you do not give up. You do not throw in the towel. You pick that towel back up, and you keep working because, obviously, whatever happened happened for a reason.I did a commencement speech earlier this year, and I used the acronym FAIL. Failing is not failing at all, but it’s finding aspiration in the losses. So, through that perceived failure, it taught me how to be a better entrepreneur. It taught me how to make sure that I had all the things that I needed in line and be more responsible, and I’m happy that it happened that way. So …

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