Shanika Robinson (BBA ’15) watched her family create and grow their Jamaican-owned bakery business into one of the nation’s fastest-growing franchises.
But Robinson got her own taste of entrepreneurship as a Terry student. The lessons she learned through the entrepreneurship certificate are proving invaluable, now that she has joined Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill in a management role and created a summer camp that encourages girls to build businesses.
“One thing I loved about Terry, and the experience I think that resonated with me the most, was being part of the Entrepreneurship Program,” she said. “I was able to step out of my comfort zone and start a business.”
With a healthy dessert business and a glass monogramming venture in college, she followed in the footsteps of her mother, a Jamaican immigrant. Jacqueline Robinson, her 10 siblings and extended family developed Golden Krust in 1989, based on their father’s little bakery in Jamaica.
Fueled by the popularity of its Jamaican-style meat and vegetable patties baked inside a pastry shell in a variety of flavors, Golden Krust now operates more than 120 franchise restaurants in nine states. It’s the largest Caribbean franchise in the U.S. and plans to expand domestically as well as in Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Its products also are sold at supermarkets and retail stores.
Robinson, a magna cum laude graduate who was president of Terry’s International Business Society, oversees her mother’s Golden Krust stores in Conyers, Stone Mountain and Lithonia. They recently bought a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in metro Atlanta that will serve as the distribution center for the 10 locations in Georgia.
“Our family has never gotten comfortable or content with anything. They always see more opportunity for us,” she said. “What’s driving them is their legacy, which is us. They want to be able to show us that we can do whatever it is that we want to do to leave something behind.”
From an early age, Robinson had a mind for business. When golf balls from a nearby course ended up in her family’s yard, she collected them, cleaned them and then sold them. But she is also community oriented. She won the 2015 UGA NAACP Outstanding Community Service Award for mentoring children on trips to Kenya, Guatemala and China, as well as in Athens-Clarke County.
Now, Robinson hopes to create a legacy with Generation Z. In summer 2016, she launched an entrepreneurship summer camp for girls, ages 7–14, through her Conyers-based organization, Girls Building Businesses. She wants to dismantle at a young age the misconception that women, especially minority females, cannot be their own boss.
The 18 summer campers developed a business idea and hand-crafted products to sell at the end of the two-week camp. Robinson hopes to expand the camp size next summer in terms of length and the number of campers.
“My passion in life is to teach young girls about entrepreneurship, just to allow them to know they can do what they, in fact, love to do,” she said.