Anything can happen at ESSENCE Fest, including a showstopping proposal.
Pinky Cole, the founder and owner of the incredibly popular vegan food chain Slutty Vegan, got the surprise of a lifetime when her partner, fellow entrepreneur and philanthropist Derrick Hayes, popped the question while the two were on stage as speakers on Day 2 of Festival weekend.
The pair, wearing matching ensembles, were sharing their wisdom at the ESSENCE Marketplace event that provides a platform for Black-owned merchants. It was there that Hayes got out of his seat to publicly honor Cole and ask for her hand in marriage. “You’ve had my back for a long time…I want to make it real,” he remarked. It was, of course, a very emotional moment, with Cole in tears. She called it “one of the best days of my life.”
When asked if she was saying yes, Cole responded, “Of course I do! F–k yeah, I do!”
She is currently expecting the couple’s second child. To show his appreciation to and love for her, he put a gorgeous rock on her finger.
It’s fitting that such a moment, this heartwarming proposal, would take place at ESSENCE Festival. The couple were our January/February cover stars where they talked about balancing business and love. While she has built a successful business with vegan food, Hayes is the CEO of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks. Initially, such a difference in the food they serve was seen as a potential problem. But they worried less about their differences in business and more about how they make each other feel.
“To be honest, there was a business concern that I am in the vegan community and he’s not,” she told us in the couple’s cover story. “But what I realize is who cares what people say. Even though we’re different, we can still exist together and still love each other—because we are tapped into each other’s hearts.”
“And,” she added, “whoever’s got something to say about that can kick rocks.”
Congratulations to the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs.!