This 36-Year-Old Black CEO Sold $2.3M In Philly Cheesesteaks In Atlanta Last Year

Meet Derrick Hayes, a 36-year-old Philadelphia native and CEO of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, who sold over $2.3 million worth of Philly cheesesteaks in Atlanta just last year alone. He owns five restaurants in the area and is now on a mission to take his iconic sandwiches nationwide, aiming to open 100 franchise locations by 2025.

“I’m a visionary, I’m a dreamer.” Hayes told CNBC. “Franchising is something that I thought about years ago, but I didn’t have the experience or the team to do it.”

Hayes recently started the franchise process, nearly a decade since he started his business. In 2014, he opened a dessert shop at a gas station in Georgia called Big Dave’s Water Ice, which is named after his late father who ignited his entrepreneurial spirit. When he struggled with selling frozen treats, he decided to do cheesesteaks.

Hayes also had a challenging start with Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks but he got his big break when rapper and TV host Eve, a fellow Philadelphian, tried his cheesesteak. Eve raved about it on social media, boosting his business overnight.

In August 2019, Hayes opened his flagship store in downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately, the pandemic temporarily closed it in March 2020, and it was also damaged during the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder. During these challenging times, Pinky Cole, founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based-food franchise, reached out to offer assistance. Their connection in business blossomed into romance, and they are now married with a growing family.

Moreover, Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks has seen remarkable growth, with his flagship Atlanta location generating over $2.3 million in revenue in the past year alone. The brand is expanding, with multiple locations in Georgia, including three inside Mercedes Benz Stadium. There’s also a location in suburban Atlanta, and one is set to open in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Now, Hayes wants to establish Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks in major cities across the country, seeking franchisees who share his vision. Initially, Hayes is seeking franchisees in the food industry, but he aspires to inspire those who may have faced legal issues, lack a college degree, or lack experience to pursue their business dreams.

“I want to deal with people who care about people. The customer is never wrong, we stand on that,” Hayes says. “I want people to feel like it’s theirs. Big Dave’s is not just a restaurant; we stand for the community, for peace, and for culture.”

Learn more about Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks via its official website at


Disney Collaborates With Black-Owned Photography Studio To Reimagine Its White Princess Characters

CreativeSoul, an Atlanta-based Black-owned photography business, has been tapped to collaborate with Disney to launch a special edition artist series that features a beautiful collection of reimagined diverse dolls. All of them are inspired by the original Disney princesses.

The CreativeSoul Doll Collection, which is based on the work of CreativeSoul Photography founders Regis and Kahran Bethencourt, completely reimagines what a classic princess could look like through a diverse new lens.

The dolls, which are inspired by four Disney Princesses — Tiana, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella — have natural hairstyles and dark-colored skin, empowering girls of color that they can be a princess, too. The dolls are adorned with intricate African fabrics and jewelry in bright colors that showcase the vibrant culture.

Aside from that, the collection will also include a series of 5 photographic prints of the models that inspired the dolls, plus one bonus print that features Elsa.

The husband and wife duo behind the collaboration has always pursued initiatives that highlight and celebrate the beauty of diversity uniquely and creatively for more than 13 years.

“Our mission has always been to bring bold inspiring images of people of color to life,” Kahran said.

“We are both excited and proud of this project and hope that through the lens of photography, it will help further empower young girls of color and show they can be a princess too,” added Regis.

Learn more about CreativeSoul Photography via their official website at

Also, be sure to follow them on Instagram @CreativeSoulPhoto


Meet The 36-Year-Old Black Mom Of Two Making $144K A Year As A Truck Driver

Clarissa Rankin, a 36-year-old African American mother from Charlotte, North Carolina, has broken stereotypes working as a professional truck driver. She loves the job so much that she decided to start her own trucking business JC Rankins Transport, which earned over $144,000 last year alone.

Rankin never planned to become a truck driver before. She studied criminal justice and worked as a substitute teacher. She was earning $1,900 per month at that time and it was not enough to support her family.

Her husband, who had worked in the trucking industry, was the one who encourage her to try driving a truck. She immediately fell in love with the job compared to an office job. She even got her truck driving license on her first try, proving everyone wrong.

“People always have this image in their mind of a truck driver being a man with a big old stomach, big old beard and wearing overalls,” she told CNBC. “I love to get that expression on people’s faces like, ‘Can you really drive that?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, I got this honey.'”

However, it was not easy for Rankin to find work for being different in the field. She got turned down many times before getting hired. She was then making nearly $50,000 a year but she felt that it was still not enough.

Rankin decided to start her own trucking business JC Rankins Transport. For 4 years, she has been driving trucks to transport different goods across the East Coast. Besides having freedom with her own schedule, she also earned more than in her previous jobs. Last year, the company brought in $144,208 and took home around $73,000 after the costs. 

Rankin, who currently has 1.8 million followers on TikTok, also makes money from creating content about her trucking life on social media. She earned $36,000 from promotional videos and advertising last year.

Moreover, she is thankful for the support of her husband, who works from home as a videographer and stays with their sons while she’s on the road. Despite other people’s criticism of her choice of work and the challenges she faces as a woman truck driver, she still continues to do what she loves.

She currently has more than 1.8 million followers on TikTok @IAmClarissaRankin