Photo by: Lexi Scott for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Aisha “Pinky” Cole, the Atlanta restaurant owner of famous Slutty Vegan, surprised over 800 Clark Atlanta University grads with a financial boost to start their own businesses.
According to FOX 5, during the class of 2022’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, Cole gifted the entire class a limited liability company or LLC.
“I have partnered with Varo Bank to provide every single graduate in this audience with a new LLC and a path to entrepreneurship,” the restaurant owner said.
“Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner,” she declared.
She later shared with 11Alive that the LLCs’ cost was over $400,000.
Cole teamed with Varo Bank to give LLCs to Clark Atlanta’s graduating class of 2022, assisting them in establishing a path to entrepreneurship and business ownership. Throughout her speech, Cole urged the graduates never to give up, even when facing failure.
“Pinky Cole had a business and lost everything,” she shared during her speech.
She added, “My car got repo’d, got kicked out of my house, went flat broke, almost lost my mind — and almost four years later, she now owns and operates at $100 million vegan brand. She found aspiration in the losses. You think I was gonna give up because of some failure? Hell no. And neither will you.”
The 34-year-old also motivated the graduating students not to be afraid of failure, as it can be inspiring.
“I’m telling this to you, the class of 2022, that I want you to fail,” she stated. “I want you to fail so hard you become an expert in failure, and you get a Ph.D. in failology. I want you to fail because failing is not failing at all — it is finding aspiration in the losses.”
The Baltimore native started her vegan burger business in 2018 as a delivery service. People made orders for burgers with daring names like the One Night Stand and Ménage à Trois on Instagram.
Her internet burger business grew to include a food truck and late-night pop-ups in and around Atlanta University Center, which houses Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College.
Cole’s first Slutty Vegan restaurant opened in the Westview district of Atlanta in 2019, followed by locations in Jonesboro, the Old Fourth Ward, Duluth, and, most recently, Athens, Georgia.
Locations in Brooklyn, New York, and Birmingham, Alabama, are now being explored.
Congratulations to the graduating class of Clark Atlanta University!