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Rohini Dey of Let’s Talk Womxn on Hustling, Camaraderie, & Taking Action

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By Sophie Brochu
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On March 8th, Let’s Talk Womxn will throw a nation-wide bash in honor of International Women’s Day. In thirteen different cities, women restaurateurs will come together to host collaborative dinners, panels, and parties intended not only to celebrate, but to lift up women in the restaurant industry. We caught up with Rohini Dey, owner of Chicago’s Vermilion, to discuss Let’s Talk Womxn, the action-led movement she founded in 2020.

The Fundamentals

“Let’s Talk is based on getting to know each other as women, women owners, and women in business. It’s a way to showcase women, to earn revenue through joint events, to get visibility, and to stay top of mind. That’s the crux. We also do a lot of mentoring for one another behind the scenes.”

 

What’s Being Talked About

“We discuss everything. How do I negotiate with my landlord, for example? And then ten of us will say, ‘This is what I’ve done. This is how you should do a pitch. Shall I forward to you my email on how I vouched it to my leaser?’ That’s one example. Or it might be on grants. ‘Hey, have you applied yet?’ Or it might be publishing an op-ed together. Or talking about staffing. We’ve helped each other so much. ‘Does LinkedIn work? Are you boosting Facebook? How are you doing this? Do you have extra staff? I need people on this night, that night.’ Or even with vendors. ‘Are you using Restaurant Depot? Where are you getting your stuff from these days? What’s working out?’ We share prices and invoices.”

 

On the growth of Let’s Talk Womxn

“It’s broadened to include a lot more non-restaurateurs such as cafes, bakeries, bars, distilleries, spice shops—all entrepreneurs in food and drink. There are thirteen robust cities and well over 600 women entrepreneurs participating. And we’re adding Detroit in a couple of weeks.”

 

What it takes to be part of Let’s Talk

“You’ve got to have real costs, real expenses, and skin in the game to be helpful.”

 

How to Hustle 

“No bullshit, there is no bureaucracy. There’s no filter, per se. We have co-hosts in each city, but we deliberately do not call them leaders because we are all equal. Anyone can lead an initiative. Everybody’s a peer and we are hustling all of the time to get stuff done.”

 

What’s Good 

“Everyone puts their best foot forward and I’m strongly of the belief that just because you are celebrated or renowned doesn’t necessarily mean your food is better.”

 

Creating Camaraderie 

“What we are doing is action oriented. We focus on the goals of our collective businesses. I don’t know whether to call it friendship or camaraderie or a bond, whatever it is, it’s gratifying. We trust in each other.”

 

Setting the Tone

“Whenever we have a Zoom, I set the tone right up front for honesty and just being straight up. There’s no massive agenda. There’s no corporate speak. No coaching words. No mincing. You should see the language we all use, some of us more than others. Women have cried. Women have shared triumphs. We celebrate each other. We swarm all over each other to help.”

 

International Women’s Day (March 8th)

“It’s a nation-wide celebration across various cities. Think collaborative dinners, panels, cocktails. But it’s not just for women. This is for everyone. Shame on men if they don’t come.”

 

Reserve your spot in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Philly or order a collaborative to-go meal in Boston.

Don't miss the party

TaggedWomen's History Month


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