In the two years since launching her first Slutty Vegan location, founder Aisha “Pinky” Cole has amassed a national following. With revenues topping $4 million in the first six months, Cole’s vegan junk food is bringing communities together in four locations and growing.
She’s now using that momentum to move into the CBD space.
Slutty Vegan CBD gummies are available nationwide, offering organic, pectin-based edibles to vegans and meat-eaters alike.
What stands out most among her accolades is her commitment to philanthropic work.
Since launching the business, she has already provided life insurance to 25,000 Black men, paid the tuition of 30 Clark Atlanta students, and founded the Pinky Cole Foundation to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
As a former television producer and casting director, Cole is well versed in the world of entertainment and uses all her experience to leverage a creative, provocative brand strategy that’s paying dividends across the Deep South.
In this interview, Cole explains what inspired her to enter the CBD space and how she’s handling the demands of motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Cannabis & Tech Today: What was happening in your life when you launched the Slutty Vegan brand?
Pinky Cole: I started Slutty Vegan in 2018. It was really just a concept that popped in my brain.
I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to do this thing. I want some vegan food on a late night, and I’m going to just create this little movement.”
At the time I had already had my dream job, I was a casting director. I knew it was going to be a good side hustle, but I had no idea that it would turn into one of the most popular concepts in the country.
C&T Today: What inspired the name Slutty Vegan?
PK: So I said, if I can connect the two of the most pleasurable experiences, and that’s sex
and food — as a television producer, I know what makes people want to pay attention.
I know what bores them. I know what makes them want to change the channel.
If I could create a dialogue around something racy and something that’s been coined as boring and tasteless, if I can merge those two worlds, I knew that I would have something people would pay attention to.
C&T Today: How did this passion for food and branding translate to the CBD space?
PK: First of all, a lot of people around me use medical marijuana, and some people don’t use it medically. So I’ve realized the whole [cannabis] world was a world that I could exist in. I know there are so many health properties.
So to be able to offer a unique product to people in my community that can help them with their pain, can help them with their anxiety, it’s a no brainer. And it’s a game changer.
Especially because we are moving into a space where more people are using CBD and more people are using marijuana. Because Slutty Vegan is such a forward-thinking brand, I knew that it would be right on brand to do something like that.
Even beyond that, when I thought about the vegan and plant-based space, the gummies that we use are whole plant extracts with organic ingredients.
They include a base that doesn’t have animal gelatin in it. People who are plant-based and vegan don’t have to compromise when they try our CBD gummies.
C&T Today: You’re a new mother to a 5-month old, right? Something coming up more often is the use of CBD as a mom-friendly alternative to frequently used relaxants like wine or prescription medications. How do you feel about CBD as a tool in your self-care arsenal?
PK: Well, I love it. I eat my own CBD gummies now when I have a long day at work and I come home and I just want to wind down.
I’m usually very tense because I’m dominating all my meetings. I’m having all my calls. I’m coaching, I’m leading, I’m guiding people, I’m doing so much.
So by the time I get home, I’m just exhausted. So when I take a CBD gummy, it really allows me to take the edge off and I can just chill.
There’s nothing better than being able to come home and take your clothes off and relax. Take a gummy, just chill, sit back, and reflect on the day.
Those are the little things that mean a lot to me, so I recommend it. The working mom has so many pressures on her to be an entrepreneur, to be a leader in the workplace.
Then to come home and be a mom and a homemaker — sometimes we just need some time for ourselves and that’s okay.
C&T Today: How is community engagement part of your strategy for success?
PK: The reason I’m successful is because of the community. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the people who stand in line for two hours a day to support me.
I’m very honored and blessed that I can utilize my platform and resources to create an ecosystem for people to have better opportunities because it’s good karma.
That good karma comes back to me in the form of more customers in my store.
I love helping people. I love giving people opportunities. I love giving them resources to be better and get out of their circumstances. I love helping entrepreneurs.
Just recently I did an activation where I signed up 40 entrepreneurs to get their LLCs. Things like that show me that as long as I continue to foster what the community needs, the community will always take care of me.
This article first appeared in the winter 2021 issue of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here for free.