“My children are my greatest motivator followed by achieving the Golden Krust vision…” – A Conversation with Jackie Hawthorne co-founder of Golden Krust

Jackie Hawthorne Robinson

Jacqueline Hawthorne Robinson, astute businesswoman and visionary leader, is one of the co-founders of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery, the largest and most respected Black business chain in the USA. Jacqueline was among the siblings as they met with her brother, Lowell Hawthorne, in 1989 to cast the vision for what has become the Golden Krust empire. She is a humanitarian at heart who has received several awards for her service to the community. She the proud mother of four beautiful adult children and a member of the Springfield Baptist Church.  Jacqueline is a Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation, Inc., 2019 Captains of Industry Honorees. She will receive this honor at the 2nd Annual Captains of Industry Awards & Gala on Saturday, June 29th at the magnificent Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, 75 14th Street, NE at 6 p.m.

Q: What is your connection to Jamaica?
A. I was born in Jamaica to Jamaica parents. I attended both primary and high schools there.

Q: Are you a businessperson or entrepreneur or both?
A. I consider myself both a businessperson and entrepreneur. A businessperson because my sibling and I undertook to transfer the skillsets and recipes from the bakery our parent owned when we emigrated to the United States. While this was an unoriginal business idea, the risks we took to develop and market Jamaican style Patties and to break into the frozen food industry and to become the first franchisor of Caribbean themed restaurants, in my view, make me an entrepreneur.

Q: What was your profession before you co-founded Golden Krust ?
Before co-founding Golden Krust, I worked in Banking and Social services.

Q: Who or what motivated you and your brother to start Golden Krust?
There were numerous motivating factors but my parents Mavis & Ephraim Hawthorne were the principal ones. A yearning to expand the vision for the business they started in Jamaica over 50 years ago and to accomplish this feat in their lifetime.

Q: Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
Financial challenges were far-reaching. We could not provide the collateral needed even if we found a banking institution willing to loan money to a group/family which had never done business in the United States before. We had no established connections willing to invest, neither could we find references who could vouch for us.

Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big three break”, whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “big break ” yet?
Over the 30 years, we have been in business, our big breaks came in installments. Being granted the franchise license in 1996, getting to the 100th restaurant milestone 2005, establishing vendor relations with ‘big box’ supermarket/grocery chains and being awarded the FEMA contract to feed the hurricane Maria victims in 2017, in Atlanta Georgia. These were among the ‘breaks we enjoyed.

Jackie Hawthorne Robinson - Golden Krust

Jackie Hawthorne Robinson

Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Finding qualified permanent employees in my market.

Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
My children are my greatest motivator followed by achieving the Golden Krust vision (taking the taste of the Caribbean to the world) and my philanthropic pursuits.

Q. Do you have any hobbies?
When I am not at work I am gardening. I love to experience the miracle of life as I watch my plants develop.

Q: Seven-day, six-night, all-expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Jamaica, West Indies

Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is
I love to watch Soap Opera on television at the end of a hectic day.

Q: My favorite Jamaican food
Jamaican curry makes everything taste better. Curry goat with boiled green bananas still my favorite.

About the author

Xavier Murphy