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Slim & Husky’s Founders Banded Together to Create Hip-Hop-Inspired Pizza Concept

Three friends growing up always saw the bigger picture. And today they are taking over the pizza industry.

EJ Reed, Clint Gray and Derrick Moore in North Nashville founded Slim & Husky’s, a hip-hop-inspired pizza company that just expanded to deliver nationally. The pizza chain is ranked 5 out of 101 in The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Pizzas in America. But the close friends didn’t hit the ground running in the pizza industry initially. Nashville-born and bred, Reed, Gray and Moore met around high school before attending HBCU, Tennessee State University, together. They would go on to graduate and secure jobs to establish a working platform.

Having an interest in starting a business for years, the three started a move-in company. The brothers rolled up their sleeves, put $3,000 in the pot between the three of them, started a website and marketed via word of mouth. The three grinded and turned three stacks into a much larger profit before selling the business for seven figures. That money helped start the Black-owned pizza empire today.

“…It was a journey to get to the pizza shop, " Reed, the CEO said. “…We just used our hard work and efforts to build something that will get us to that point.”

While some folks say that starting a business with friends isn’t a good idea, the brothers think that it depends on what kind of friends you have in your corner.

“One of the unique things about us is the type of friendship that we have. You know, built on trust, built on accountability, and built on everyone wanted to hold their own weight,” Reed said. “…For myself, I’m waking up, going at it with two people going just as hard as me so that I know where they’re coming from. I trust their background. … I wouldn’t recommend doing business with friends for everyone, but if you have the right set of friends, it just makes sense. … And as always, one of the most important things I will say is we’ve put friendship as the pinnacle. That’s the most important thing.”

It is true that their relationship holds down the fort for their current business. But when the trio started the move-in company, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. In fact, two weeks into moving items from full-fledged farms and other places, the brothers questioned if being in the business was for the three of them. But after sticking to it for a year or so, the three decided that being in business was the best thing that has happened to them in their lives.

Additionally, the move-in business taught the brothers how to manage accordingly in the pizza industry. When business was picking up, the brothers, who hold MBAs and experience in law, had the task of managing several trucks with several different crew members going out on different move-in jobs. Because of this scenario, the businessmen learned how to manage several different tasks and businesses at one time.

“So it really gave us, what I consider a Ph.D. in operating a business. No matter what type of business it was, issues were coming at us daily, that we had to figure out fast solutions that were going to continue the business and keep us going,” Reed added. “And see, we were able to transition all those lessons into a new concept that has most people walk in your doors (and) now they’re happy…”

The name of the business started from a joke. The brothers always joked about wearing husky clothes back in the day. And one day, they agreed that Slim & Husky’s was the perfect name for the business.

Once the name was agreed upon, the business’ inception was based on art, culture, music, and of course pizza. The first store was built in North Nashville, where the three are from. Gray is the chief marketing officer, while Moore is the chief development officer. A store opening in this neck of the woods was very symbiotic in telling the story of Black culture at its highest level. And it is no surprise the area is home to HBCU Tennessee State University.

Overall, there are 12 locations in Tennessee, California and Georgia, and folks looking to make their own pizza have come to the right place. There are also take-out options, catering services, among many other options. The three have also expanded to have their very own music series called Slim Huskies Unplugged, which is designed to give emerging artists across the country a platform so they can be heard by local record labels.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to have a thriving business. And the three brothers have advice for those who want to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Reed said. “Mistakes are going to happen. It’s inevitable that you’re going to drop the ball from time to time. Pick yourself up, dust off, admit your wrongs and keep it moving. Keep it rolling.”

To keep things rolling, the former HBCU football players host community events, participating in speaking engagements at local schools, nonprofits, small businesses and organizations.

For more information on the pizza business, go to Slim & Husky's - Nashville's Homegrown Pizza Beeria.

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Photo Credit: Slim & Husky’s


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