A group of Milwaukee-area women restaurateurs are working together to celebrate International Women’s Day. Let’s talk about women is a national movement that started in Chicago in 2020. Today, the movement has 13 chapters across the country, and one of them is right here in Milwaukee.
the Chapter Let’s Talk About Womxn Milwaukee hosts a dinner on March 8 on International Women’s Day with various women-owned vendors. Ultimately, they want to make the food and restaurant industry fair for everyone in Milwaukee.
“It’s a collaboration of women restaurateurs to build combined economic power. It’s not an organization, it’s not an entity. It’s a movement led by women business owners as peers, all three of us were approached to co-host,” Spandet begins.
The three decided to lead this program in Milwaukee after the pandemic began, Moreno adds. She says the idea of collaborating with other reputable women with similar values, morals and ideology was exciting.
“Everything we do is very intentional. A big thing that’s important to the three of us is also to focus on black and brown women’s businesses. That’s our intention for the group,” Moreno says.
Milwaukee’s landscape is heavily male-dominated, making it a tough space to be a female restaurateur right now, Spandet says. Working in Milwaukee kitchens all her life, she says she struggled with the male-dominated culture and sometimes even embraced it.
Spandet used his down payment for a new home and invested it in his business. And while going through the loan process and doing her own research, she saw a gender gap.
“I have noticed that women are generally offered smaller loans with higher interest rates. Historically, women also reinvest over 40% more in our communities than our male counterparts, so we are offered less , but we are investing more in our communities,” she says.
Ignatiev continues that initially, the camaraderie of national women restaurateurs is what really convinced them to join the group.
She says she envisions the group of restorers preventing the formation of toxic environments in the city. It’s important to improve and address sexual harassment policies and what landlords are able to provide their employees to make decisions about fair spaces, Ignatiev says.
“I feel like if our economic power is used to make these decisions to make this a fair space for women, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter if you’re from a community that doesn’t receive don’t have the funds, we’re going to be able to make those decisions,” she said.
One of the first steps in creating equitable spaces for women in Milwaukee is to organize a celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8.
Twenty women dining establishment owners here in Milwaukee will come together to talk and celebrate with ticket holders. The event means coming together as women while celebrating Milwaukee’s diversity, Ignatiev says.
With Black History Month, Women’s History Month and Pride Month being so close, it can be a great time to raise awareness about diversity in Milwaukee, Spandet says.
Still, she says, it’s important to support our women in business 365 days a year and keep that front and center.
“Let’s support our black businesses every day and keep them at the forefront of our brands. Same with all of our minority businesses as a community and then we need to come together and lift each other up and raise each other’s voices every day of the year,” says Spandet.