Let's Talk Womxn helped Chicago's female food entrepreneurs survive pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rohini Dey, owner of Vermilion restaurant, founded Let's Talk Womxn in 2020 with 10 women in Chicago's food and beverage industry trying to keep their businesses afloat. They supported each other, shared information and experiences, and cross-promoted their business.

"As opposed to just reaching our 10,000, 20,000 followers on an Instagram account, combine that with 25 women and now you've got 500,000 followers," Dey said.

Tigist Reda, who owns Demera in Uptown, said Let's Talk Womxn has been an important part of how her restaurant survived the pandemic, along with her loyal customers.

"We just needed each other, personally and business-wise. Like, there is enough business for everyone," she said.

"It just seemed like a no-brainer to just come together and talk," she added. "Humans in general should be supportive of one another, but women, we just have so many layers to deal with."

Dey has launched Let's Talk Womxn in 13 cities and states: Chicago, Atlanta, the greater New York City area, Milwaukee, Boston, Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Miami, Minneapolis, Kentucky and Phoenix. She's about to add a 14th. Together, there are more than 600 women now talking across the country.

She chose to spell "Womxn" with an "x" to symbolize the unknown possibilities of their work together.

"It's been hugely gratifying because it's brought us together, very tightly knit, and the fabric between us is fundamentally transformed," Dey said.

What was born from desperate, uncertain times during the pandemic now serves as a source of strength for female business owners to band together.
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