At age 26, Spelman alumnus and Metro Atlantan Ashley Derby became one of the youngest franchise owners of a Chick-fil-A, when she opened a prime location near the University of Southern California (USC) in 2011. She also became the youngest Black female franchise owner in the company’s history.
Now Derby will continue to make history as she opens Chick-fil-A’s first downtown Los Angeles location this Fall. And we’re talking prime real estate here. Positioned at the busy financial district’s intersection of South Figueroa and 7th (an area often used as b-roll footage in films set in Los Angeles), the location will be 6,500 square feet and occupy two stories.
Leading the new downtown LA location will be old hat for Derby. She’s been a team member with Chick-fil-A since she was 15 years old. An since those earlier days in which she used her earnings to purchase her first car, she has learned every facet of operating a Chick-fil-A location from “squeezing lemons to taking orders in the drive-thru, you name it” as she recounted in Chick-fil-A promotional video.
As the company proved a good fit for her, Derby continued the job as director on the leadership team during her college years at Spelman and even went as far as to switch her major to an economic focus to better prepare for a future with the restaurant chain. She moved to Los Angeles at Chick-fil-A’s request and even attended a series of management and development programs for the organization.
All of that preparation culminated with the opening of Derby’s USC location. Coupled with her hard work and dedication, it was no wonder that Derby received the company’s Symbol of Success—an honor bestowed on Chick-fil-A operators whose businesses earn high sales growth.
What do you think about Ashley's accomplishment? How can we encourage others within the Black community to open franchises?
Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.