For Immediate Release
January 21, 2022
Contact Information

Sheila Harris, ESSENCE

(BPRW) ESSENCE Celebrates the Power of Black Love and Business With Its Black History Month Issue Cover Featuring Slutty Vegan CEO+Founder Aisha “Pinky” Cole and Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks CEO+Owner Derrick Hayes

The Atlanta-based “Millionaires Next Door” Share Their Story of Love, Food and Building An Empire; ESSENCE’s January/February 2022 Issue Also Features More Black Power Duos Who Work Together and Are Building Generational Wealth By Keeping it in the Family

(Black PR Wire) NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- ESSENCE’s January/February 2022 Black History Month issue champions the power of Black love and business by featuring power couple Pinky Cole, CEO and Founder of popular vegan fast food chain Slutty Vegan, and Derrick Hayes, CEO and Owner of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks. In the cover story, Hot in the Kitchen, ESSENCE talks to the business owners about everything from food, community, their love for each other, second chances and how they turned their multimillion-dollar businesses into a family affair. Here’s what Pinky and Derrick tell ESSENCE:


  • PINKY COLE ON MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE: “I think that our relationship is symbolic of what the world should look and feel like…It should look and feel like a place where there is no judgment. Just because you might not believe in the things that I believe in, doesn’t mean that we can’t come together in friendship, love and spirituality…”
  • DERRICK HAYES ON HIS ROAD TO SUCCESS, SECOND CHANCES…AND THE FIVE MINUTES THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE (ESSENCE EXCERPT): “…The 34-year-old seems to have it all together now, but that wasn’t always the case. Like many young Black men in inner cities throughout the country, who lack resources and feel there’s no other way to provide for themselves and their families, Hayes once fell into the trap of selling drugs. ‘I got arrested, and I was looking at some time,’ he reveals. Hayes recalls going to court every day thinking that his life was over. ‘I thought, If I get out of this, I’m straightening my life up. I remember before walking into the courtroom when I was supposed to get sentenced, my sister called and prayed for me. That day was the third time the DA didn’t show up. The judge said he would give the DA five minutes and then he would throw the case out,’ he says. Hayes admits those were the longest five minutes of his life, waiting to hear if his sister’s prayers had worked. Those five minutes until the judge hit the gavel and threw his case out also changed his story. The entrepreneur continues to be deeply thankful for his second chance. ‘While I was walking out, the detective who was supposed to testify against me was coming in,’ he remembers, ‘and I realized how close I came to losing my freedom, and now I had to change my life...’”
  • PINKY COLE ON HER RESILIENCY: “Let me tell you something about me…I’m so confident in myself that two things are either going to happen—either you’re going to love me and be inspired, or you’re going to be intimidated…”
  • ACTRESS/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR LENA WAITHE ON WHAT MAKES THE COUPLE UNIQUE: “I think people look at them and see themselves…They inspire others to take their destiny into their own hands. They make it clear that the road was long and difficult, but they continue to wake up every day and get things done. I admire them both a great deal...”

In addition, ESSENCE’s print+digital package features the piece Love, Marriage and Business which highlights more Black power duos who are building generational wealth by keeping it in the family including: Monique & Melvin Rodriguez, Mielle Organics; Kyara Gray & Khalil Uqdah, Charm City Buyers; Ken and Mary Olds, Muggin’ Coffee House; Tim and Kim Lewis, CurlMix; Beatrice Dixon and Simon Gray, The Honeypot Co.; Donna Richardson-Joyner and LaVerne Richardson, Mama LaVerne’s Chicken, Waffles and Pancake Seasoning and Baking Mixes; Yolanda and Rick Williams, Distinct Life; D’Vonne and KeAnna Pickett, The Postman; and Collin, Ryan, and Austin Gill, Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.

ESSENCE’s special Black History Month issue also heralds the power of Black beauty, creativity and resiliency with features including:

  • Chief to Chief: ESSENCE CEO Caroline Wanga launches her inaugural column and speaks with Kith’s chief impact officer Sharifa Murdock on securing Black equity.
  • 8 Women In Tech to Watch: These founders confronted industry biases by launching their own ventures, stepping into leadership positions and creating openings for Blacks in tech.
  • Adrienne Warren Is In Season: The actress, Tony Award winner and Women of the Movement star shines in a stunning fashion spread.
  • ESSENCE Hair Awards: Welcome to ESSENCE’s curated list of products and tools that help your strands shine with advice from top hairstylists.
  • Redemption Song: Attorney Bryan Stevenson hopes the Legacy Museum will be a space for national catharsis and salvation.

ESSENCE’s January/February 2022 issue is on newsstands now. For more on this month’s issue, visit (Cover Photo, Drea Nichole) *Essence Ventures founder and chairman Richelieu Dennis is an investor in Slutty Vegan.

FOR BROADCAST PRODUCERS: **B-ROLL+Q&A is available upon request.

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