Meet the Friends Behind National Black-Owned Pizza Brand Slim & Husky’s

Creating their popular slogan, Pizza Rules Everything Around Me (PREAM), Clint Gray, Derrick Moore and EJ Reed, the men behind the national Black-owned pizza brandSlim & Husky’s—have now upgraded things to Progress Rules Everything Around Me. In just under 6 years, friends-turned-business partners have now expanded to 13 locations across the South, and more are in preparation for.

“We always promised the university to start a business when the time came,” Reed shares. “We took $1,000 a piece in 2009 and started a moving business. We were able to grow and scale that business and then the idea came for Slim & Husky’s around 2014. In January 2017 we sold the moving company and opened our first Slim & Huskey’s in March of that year.”

For the three business owners and former classmates, focusing on their local communities has been one of the drivers of the brand’s success. They plan to hire from within the local community, engage with area politicians as well as artists – whom they often approach to commission artwork for the venues – before opening a new place in a community.

“The trust our management teams have in us has certainly been key to our success. We’ve been able to persevere through good times and even some stumbling blocks, like COVID,” said Derrick “Moe” Moore. . “That, along with our faith in God, has been important. We always say, ‘If we keep working, the rest will fall into place. “”

When you enter one of the brand’s stores, you are usually greeted by the sounds of hip hop playing over the speakers. There are vibrant murals and artwork by black artists covering the walls. By using pizza to connect people to culture, men want to make it clear that it is a manifestation of black culture personified.

“We created this brand and our menu with black culture at the forefront. The three of us grew up in the era of ’90s hip hop, which fueled our love for music in general,” says Gray. “So our menu, from ‘Roni, Roni, Roni’ vegan pizza to ‘Nothing but a V-Thing’, is all influenced by the music we grew up with.”

As one of the few national black-owned pizza brands in the country, we asked Gray, Moore and Reid to share some gems with others looking to build a brand nationally.

Left to right: EJ Reed, Clinton Gray and Derrick Moore of Slim & Husky’s. Image: Courtesy of Sim & Husky’s.

fall in love with sacrifice

Once you start or open a business, it’s a sacrifice. It can take up a lot of your time and energy, often alienating you from those you love. So once you kick things off, Moore says you’ll have to fall in love with that sacrifice and take your brand to the next level.

“It’s not easy,” Moore says. “You invest a lot of time and money, which is a sacrifice, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that.”

Focus on growth from the start

“A lot of companies are gaining momentum quickly, but they don’t have the infrastructure to really scale. We’re creating a plan for other companies to follow,” Reed says. “Really and truly working on your business so you can scale is key. It’s great to have a mom-and-pop operation, but it’s great to be able to have multiple locations as well.”

Find a good mix of people and use great technology

“Look to hire people who are just as entrepreneurial. Ambitious people who can also contribute great ideas and support your vision,” says Gray. “Technologically, it helps to speed things up and get your business to more places faster. The results of the new technology make us a better business overall and have allowed us to grow faster. .”

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