EXCLUSIVE: How This Woman Became the Youngest Black McDonald’s Owner in the U.S.

Jade Colin made headlines earlier this month when The Black Professional broke the news that she held the title of the youngest black owner of a McDonald’s in company history. Colin acquired her franchise after working at her family’s McDonald’s straight out of college and then completing the restaurant chain’s Next Generation program.

We sat down with the 28-year-old CEO to find out how she overcame her challenges to find success—and make history—all before turning 30:

Can you share with us how you were able to successfully own a McDonald’s franchise at the age of 26?

To become anything great in life, you have to reach for the sky, even if you only grab a star. As a McDonald’s owner, in everything I do, I strive for excellence. I spent countless hours working as a restaurant manager. I learned everything about policies and procedures. I woke up every morning analyzing ways to increase sales and transactions, and how to improve the brand’s reputation. I had a great team behind me. I pushed them for greatness and to strive for excellence. When you believe in excellence, success will follow anything you do.

The road to owning your own McDonald’s franchise has not been an easy one. What has it taken for you to make this happen?

Hard work. When I first started working for our organization, I was not paid much. I knew it would be greater later. Nothing in life is easy. As a generation, millennials want things “right now.” However, it does not work that way. You have to put in work, blood, sweat, tears, and even burns by fry grease (lol). Also, after you achieve your goals, the next question is “What’s next?”

You earned your degree in business management, and at one point you considered becoming a CPA! Tell us a little bit about what you learned along the way that helped shape you into the person you are today.

I have been working since I was 14 years old. When I moved back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina at the age of 16, I worked for Smoothie King. It was owned by five partners. They would teach me things I didn’t understand, like the importance of meeting yields on the products, counting inventory, making sure the money is deposited, and more. When I would get home from work I would speak to my parents about opening my own Smoothie King.

My mom would always tell me a career as a CPA would be a great choice. I started taking accounting courses and realized it was not something I really wanted to do. I changed my major to business management. It was then I understood everything the owners of Smoothie King taught me. I went back to Smoothie King and told them I appreciated their lessons.

I then thought that becoming a cosmetologist was my next career move because it was a passion of mine. But, everything changed when I failed my second semester of college and lost my scholarship. I had to write an appeal to the dean to be readmitted back into the school of business but refused to give up. From there, I went to summer school every summer and worked hard to finish strong and graduate. I didn’t give up!

As an entrepreneur, you have witnessed great successes. How do you deal with challenges along the way?

When challenges arise, I face them head-on. I pray and ask God to lead and guide me to handle the challenges the way He sees fit. As an entrepreneur, challenges come daily. Being the boss means you are the leader of the team. Everyone looks to you to see how you will face challenges and adversity. To be successful, you have to know challenges comes with the territory.

You mentioned you rely on your faith, why is this so important for you?

Faith is what keeps me going. Knowing that God will never leave you or forsake you, even when things do not go as you have planned. You have to remember He has already written your story. You have to trust and follow His lead. Know in your heart God is with you. Life will bring ups and downs but God is there every step of the way, whispering in your ear “I am here. Trust me.”

You are a great proponent of financial literacy, you mentioned your mom taught you a few financial lessons early on that really caught your attention.

My parents’ lessons are my foundation. Financial literacy and generational wealth are absent in our community. My parents established early on that knowledge and application in finances were important to be successful in life and business.

You are a great inspiration to many, why is it important for you to help others, especially your employees?

Our communities don’t have many people to look up to. As times change and social media is becoming the platform to make life look “easy,” well it is not. You have to become an expert at something. You have to know the background of how to get where you are trying to go in life. I want to teach young women how to become better. The importance of paying your bills on time, how to handle business, becoming a young professional, holding a conversation, and more. Working in the culture of McDonald’s, I was surprised at what people did and did not know. Most people want to know; they just need someone to encourage them to get them where they desire to go.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

  • Invest while you are young
  • Develop yourself to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself
  • Save your money
  • Stay focused on your goals

For more information about Jade, follow her on Instagram at @_beingjadeashley_.