Urban Girl Mag | Come Through Queen: Ashley Lamothe is the Youngest Black Woman to Open a Chick-Fil-A Franchise
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Come Through Queen: Ashley Lamothe is the Youngest Black Woman to Open a Chick-Fil-A Franchise

I’m sure you’ve read the headlines and saw the viral memes circulating last year of Ashley Lamothe. At just 26 years old she was praised for becoming the youngest black woman to own her very own Chick-Fil-A franchise. This happened about 8 years ago when Lamothe opened up an Los Angeles franchise of the restaurant near USC. The internet made this news viral only last year.

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When I spoke to Ashley she started by quickly clearly things up. The now 34 year old, entrepreneur, mom, and wife who could still visually pass for 26 said “Let me clarify a little bit because there was a lot of information circulating last year and some of it’s true and some of it’s not. So I got selected for my very first Chick-Fil-A franchise when I was 26 and I’m 34 now. at the time i was the youngest black woman to have a franchise. At no point was I the youngest ever and I’m definitely not the youngest now.”

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As mentioned above Lamothe opened her first Chick-Fil-A franchise at the age of 26. The location was across the street from The University of Southern California. This happened just 5 years after graduating from Spelman College with her degree in Economics. “The first one is near USC that’s the one I opened when I was 26. Last year I opened the Down Town LA location”

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The Atlanta, GA native didn’t always have a knack for business ownership . In fact she entered college majoring in theater originally. The one thing Ashley did realize was that she loved working for Chick-Fil-A. She worked for the franchise while in high school, and through out her four years in college, and it was at the location close to Spelman where she was inspired to possibly own her own franchise one day.

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I had to ask Ashley what inspired her to own her very own Chick-Fil-A franchise since it’s not everyday a 26 year old opens their own franchise. This was especially rare when considering all of the hurdles faced by women and even more challenges are faced by black women in the professional world. She said it started from working at the restaurant while in high school and college. “I started working for Chick-Fil-A when I was in high school and I loved it. I had a lot of friends that worked there and it really just felt like a family. So when I went off the college I’d decided I was going to keep my job. I would go to school and work because I liked it so much.”

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Ashley had the spark of interest after a conversation with her then boss while in college. Her boss planted the seed with a short conversation that grew into reality.  “While I was at Spelman the franchisee that I was working for at the time asked me if [owning a Chick-Fil-A] was something I’d ever considered. He basically said ‘You’ve been with me for a few years now and I really think you have the skill set to do this. I think with the right game plan and a lot of hard work you can have your own Chick-Fil-A if this is something that you’re interested in’. That conversation just totally changed the trajectory of my life. I’d liked the idea of being my own boss. With his help I was able to get into one of the pipeline programs that Chick-Fil-A has for aspiring franchisees and ultimately got selected out of that program.” 

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News went viral around 2018 of her being the youngest black woman to open her own Chick-Fil-A franchise. Although it had been 8 years since the opening of her first location Ashley opened her second location in downtown LA and news of this spread like wild fire. She made history and said she never thought anything of it while it was happening. “It was never really a thought in my mind that I was breaking history. I was just doing something that I loved and I happened to be really young at the time. I felt like I had a lot to prove and I really wanted to make a name for myself. I never really considered how big of a deal it was until last year when a lot of people just started talking about how awesome it was and how cool it was and how inspiring it was learning about me and the restaurant.” 

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Before you rush to you nearest franchise with hopes of opening your own Ashley reassured us that getting selected to open your own Chick-Fil-A is not easy, in fact it’s pretty challenging.

” Chick-Fil-A only opens a small number of new restaurants every year… They open maybe 70 restaurants or so each year… When you take into consideration the number of people in the pipeline that program…there are just so many restaurants to go around and they get thousands of applicants each year. So t is really hard to get selected.”

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She went on to say “Our franchise model is very different from your traditional franchise. The franchise fee for Chick-Fil-A is $10,000. We’re also a privately owned company…. Once you open a franchise you split 50% with Chick-Fil-A forever.”

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Besides being the owner of two Chick-Fil-A franchises Ashley is also a new mom to a 3 month old baby girl. I had to ask how she balances it all and what advice can she lend to other working mommas out there? “...it’s really hard… I would like to say I’ve found some sort of balance but that hasn’t happened yet and I’m not really sure that it ever does. I do have help… and I also have the luxury of making my own schedule so that’s definitely a plus. Every day I wake up I have to give myself grace… and whatever doesn’t get don I can try again tomorrow…there’s a lot of allowing myself the freedom and flexibility to do what I can… I try to be as intentionally as I can about my time.”

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For all of the Urban Girl Bosses out there looking to open your own franchise Ashley insits on doing your research first before exploring the possibilities. “You’ve gotta do your research… My recommendation is to always do your research so that you know what it is that you’re saying you’re asking for…Then seek out help from people that are in that industry and who you can get to mentor you.”

 

 

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