Pinkey Reddick, a 2004 graduate of H.D. Woodson’s Business and Finance Academy in Ward 7, worked 10 years in a franchise restaurant, learning the ropesIn 2016, she stepped out on faith to start her own business.

These days, she’s flying with heavy-hitter business partners thanks to programs offered through JPMorgan Chase and the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF).

Reddick, who started Pinke‘s E.A.T.S.,, a food service that offers catering-to-go to corporate clients, government agencies, and community organizations, gained access to capital and connections that helped her obtain lucrative contracts through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOFC), a program JPMorgan Chase developed in partnership with Capital Impact Partners, and is also funded by the James and Alice B. Clark Foundation in the greater Washington region.

“I’ve heard her story many times, and each time something different inspires me,” said Harold Pettigrew Jr., CEO (WACIF), who helped Pinkey develop her business plan and connected her to JPMorgan Chase’s EOFC program. He also was raised in Ward 7 and puts his considerable academic and corporate experience toward giving back.

After graduating high school, Reddick thought she wanted to own a hair salon, but while in cosmetology school, she took a restaurant job to make ends meet. It was there where she flourished and was able to move into management and pitched the idea to offer catering to-go.

“I can remember being a teenager, walking around Ward 7 seeing we had no food options besides McDonald’s, Wendy’s and carry-outs,” Reddick said.

Shortly after the restaurant’s upper management used her idea nationwide, she decided she wanted to try to focus on the DMV and launch her own catering business.

If I was going to work 70 hours and get paid for 50, I may as well do it for myself,she said.

Reddick began selling meals from a shared commercial space. During this time, a friend told her that if she wanted to be taken seriously, she needed a business plan. She drew on what she’d learned in the H.D. Woodson academy, and applied to WACIFs Ascend Capital Accelerator.

The Right Partners

“When I entered WACIF’s Ascend program, my business wasn’t profitable,” Reddick said. “When I finished the program, my business was.”

JPMorgan Chase has provided $3.65 million in funding for Washington, D.C., and Baltimore small businesses through the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund. The program is being executed by WACIF, Latino Economic Development Center and Harbor Bank of Maryland.

The EOCF program, in particular, is designed to forge new pathways to entrepreneurship in the region’s underserved communities by pairing low-cost capital with business advisory services to help entrepreneurs of color start and grow businesses, create jobs and build wealth.

The program is working well for Reddick.

WACIF has been supportive and have coached me throughout the entire process,” she said. “Most recently, I was offered a line of credit through the Enterenpeuners of Color Fund.”

Persevering Through the Pandemic

We know that small businesses have been hit particularly hard,” said Dekonti Mends-Cole, vice president of mid-Atlantic global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund seeks to overcome systemic challenges Black and Brown entrepreneurs face inaccessing capital by working with Community Development Financial Institutions to increase access to capital needed to stabilize, grow, and build resilient diverse-owned businesses.”

As part of a $25 million nationwide investment to drive more inclusive regional growth, JPMorgan Chase also invested in Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Community Development (CNHED). That was when Reddick got a call from Stephen Glaude, CEO of CNHED, who asked her if she had capacity to create meals for local hospitals.

Utilizing a commercial kitchen at Metropolitan A.M.E. on M Street to fill her orders, the calls started coming. This included the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, which contracted with Reddick to provide 10,000 meals for the 2020 presidential inauguration.

Pre-pandemic, Reddick had five employees; now she has 26.

“It feels amazing – but it’s stressful,” she said. “It’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of personalities to manage.”

Reddick’s also creating an employee handbook to help.

“I love food. I love the food experience,” she said. “I started with no plan, just selling dinners. I love seeing my business come to life.”

Making Her Grandparents Proud

“Growing up I spent summers with my grandparents,” Reddick said. “In the mornings, me and my granddad would go into the garden and pick vegetables and other things. Then, back home, my grandma and I would make lunch and dinner, and have everything done before the soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ came on.”

Her grandparents and her mother were her primary mentors, she said.

“If my grandmother was alive right now, she’d be, like, ‘Go on, girl!’” she said.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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