Pinky Cole Addresses Employee Lawsuits, Says Slutty Vegan is a ‘Target’

Slutty Vegan is on its way to becoming the next Black billion-dollar business, and yet even the gruesome of challenges are just a testament to the company’s readiness or lack of preparedness.

At BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Disruptor Summit, Selena Hill, BE Deputy Digital Editor and Slutty Vegan founder Aisha “Pinky” Cole took the stage at the Grand Hyatt Tower in Atlanta to discuss the boss lady’s meteoric rise from a Jamaican restaurant owner in Harlem to a multi-million-dollar food empire.

Among many things, Cole kept it real transparent about the lawsuits against her. But her realness about the disputes turned into genuine empowerment directed at the audience. She urged those scaling a business to always stay ready for the move to the multi-million or billion-dollar space.


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During the premier business conference, Cole revealed that her company is “more of a target than we’ve ever been before.” Back in January, Cole took to social media to shut down lawsuit allegations of taking portions of employees’ tips and failure to pay them minimum wage, BE previously reported.

“When sh— happens, we put policy in place,” Cole told the audience, adding how important it is to acknowledge the normalcy behind business problems. The ebbs and flows are real. And so are the “monkey wrenches” that can yank you out of your element when you’re building your reputation and scaling a growing business, according to Cole.

“I had a nine-page profile in the New Yorker. The next day, I was on the cover of Jet Magazine. The very next day I came on after the Golden Globes on the 11 o’clock news because I was getting sued for unpaid wages,” Cole revealed.

She continued: “Imagine having 450 employees and making sure that you’re serving all of their needs. Some people going to slip through the cracks. We might not always get it right, but we do the best we can.”

From wellness checks to maintaining a tight HR team, Cole is learning and leveling up. She is not only a disruptor but a mogul behind 11 restaurant locations, with products in 1400 Targets and more on the way. Cole is also a creator who grew her success after investing in a passion project. Cole shared that building one Slutty Vegan brick-and-mortar cost her $850,000 on a “good day,” and it’s still not about the money with her.

“For about two weeks, I was just in a funk. This ain’t what I built. This ain’t my character. When you are scaling a disruptive business, you have to understand that there is going to be some great, some good, and some bad. But it’s all about the process,” she said.

At another point, Hill asked Cole to explain her change in perspective about being a business owner.  She called her challenges “tests from God,” emphasizing that all businesses have issues.

“There are no friends in business. There is no family in business,” Cole explained.

“I made the biggest mistake of hiring family in business and I will never do that again.  And I love my family. But it also just tells me that [if] you want to build a multi-million dollar company, you have to move like a multi-million dollar company. You have to move like a corporate entity. You have to move like the big conglomerates move. And be very clean in your approach in everything that you do.”

She added: “Luckily, I have an all-star legal team. Luckily, I’ll have an all-star accounting team that protects us every step of the way because I’m moving into the billion-dollar space.”

For those who want to move into the billion-dollar space, Cole highly recommended that you get into consumer package goods.

Watch the full conversation here.