CHICAGO — Vermillion Restaurant has a loyal following for both it’s creative cuisine and trendy vibe. But, it’s owner, Rohini Dey, is undoubtedly the secret sauce.
“When I entered restaurants, it stunned me how few women actually owned their own businesses and I strongly believe that power comes from that ownership,” Dey said.
Dey, who has been uplifting and inspiring women in Chicago for years, set out during the pandemic to find more women in the restaurant business and let them know they weren’t alone.
“She pulled about 20 of us together to say hey, we need to stand up for ourselves, there’s strengths in numbers and we can make it through this,” Restaurant Owner Julia Shell said.
20 soon became 30, and then 40 women started meeting to discuss ideas and band together as women restaurateurs.
“It proved to be such a magical moment for us,” Dey said. “Not just the catharsis of it but the whole alchemy of being related on a very different level and that’s when I realized I stumbled on something that was sorely needed.”
It was the beginning of what’s now known as “Let’s Talk Womxn,” a group of female restaurateurs sharing resources, support, and success.
“We all think she’s fantastic,” Shell said. “I don’t see how you can’t because she’s just a force of nature. She really is”
“Together we have grown this group to now over 80 of us in Chicago,” Dey said. “All women owners and still growing rampantly.”
This action led movement, now nationwide and 600 plus women strong, has resulted in gatherings like this one in 14 cities.
“It speaks to the culture of women supporting women, having a voice, empowering yourself through other women and having a support system,” Dey said.
Highlighting the food and sage advice of other female restaurant owners.
“Let’s Talk Womxn has really given me access to so many incredible female founders in the city of Chicago,” Jennifer Chan, founder of Banato, said.
Opening doors and changing the landscape for new entrepreneurs like Jennifer Chan.
“We’re not competing against each other,” Chan said. “We’re here to lift each other up and I’m so grateful to have so much advice from amazing mentors from this organization.”
Rohini Dey weaves through the crown she single handedly built, no longer marginalized but a powerhouse of women with one collective voice.
“We give each other the courage to do things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise,” Dey said.
Success can be measured many different ways. For Dey, it’s how many women you carry with you on the way up.
For information on Vermillion Restaurant, click here.
For more information on Let’s Talk Womxn, click here.
Watch Rohini Dey’s full Remarkable Women feature in the video player above.
March is Women’s History Month and Nexstar and WGN are recognizing the great contributions women have made in our community. Throughout the month, four finalists for the 2023 Woman of the Year award will be highlighted.