By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Feb 17, 2022 at 7:01 PM

Get ready to celebrate International Women’s Day as you've never done before.

Let’s Talk Womxn Milwaukee, a new local movement spear-headed by a group of female business owners in the food and beverage industry, is hosting its inaugural event on March 8 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The celebration, which, will take place at the Story Hill Firehouse at 407 N. Hawley Rd., will feature amazing food from 20 female-owned food businesses, live music from Roxie Beane, ambiance and plants from Maranta Plant Shop and entertainment from DJ LoLo.

“We’ve been very intentional in terms of this event,” says Lupe Moreno, Let’s Talk Womxn co-host and co-owner of Modern Maki. “We wanted to put forward a true representation of Milwaukee, including brown and black businesses. We also wanted to invite people who are supportive of our mission to come out, hang out with awesome women and eat great food.”

Every attendee will be welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine and Happy Joy candy floss, and Boone & Crockett will be providing a cocktail or mocktail for each attendee during the event.

Participating food businesses will include 

Tickets for the event are $60 per person and can be purchased online. Each ticket includes passed appetizers, a family style buffet and desserts. Vegan and gluten-free options will be available, along with a cash bar. Masks are required for all attendees, and all proceeds from the event will support the participating woman-owned businesses.

The debut event is co-hosted by Jess Ignatiev of Heirloom MKE, Dana Spandet of Flour Girl & Flame, Lupe Moreno of Modern Maki and Alexa Alfaro of Meat on the Street with sponsorship from Visit Milwaukee and CashDrop, which will be matching the profits from the event. Siege Photography is also lending support to the event.

What’s Let’s Talk Womxn?

Inspired by the action-led movement of the same name which was founded in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic (and has now spread to 13 cities around the nation), Let’s Talk Womxn MKE was organized with the goal of supporting female entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

“We came together around common moral and ethical goals,” says Let’s Talk Womxn co-host Jess Ignatiev of Heirloom MKE. "We all run our businesses in a transparent way, and we care about the decisions that we make and how they impact other businesses and our community. We’re intentional about who we work with and we all want to support, uplift and advocate for other female-owned businesses, including those owned by black, brown and LGBTQ+ women.”

And that support is needed. Despite the fact that there are 114% more female entrepreneurs in the U.S. today than there were 20 years ago, and woman-owned businesses historically invest up to 40% more in their communities than those owned by white males, there are still large disparities in the funding and support available for women workers and business owners.

For that reason, Chef Dana Spandet, Let’s Talk Womxn co-host and co-owner of Flour Girl & Flame says the initiative is also about creating awareness and evoking change.

“For me – especially starting a business in 2020 – it’s become evident how little has changed," says Spandet. "There 140,000 women who left the workforce during the pandemic, due to a variety of challenges, including childcare.

"And, as I looked into ways to get funding for my business, I met with all the issues that women typically do. We’re offered smaller loans with significantly higher interest rates than men. And it’s time for people to become aware and realize how deep the inequities are that still exist in our world.”

Be a force for good

Are you a female business owner in food and beverage who feels passionately about supporting, uplifting and advocating for other businesses and giving back to the community?  You are invited to join the movement. Currently, Let’s Talk Womxn is comprised of nearly 30 local woman-owned businesses. But more are welcome. Your commitment to the organization includes attendance at monthly meetings, currently held either virtually or in person.  To find out more or get connected, email ltwmke@gmail.com

Interested in sponsoring the inaugural Let’s Talk Womxn event? Or future events? Email ltwmke@gmail.com (serious inquiries only).

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.