Women's Entrepreneurship Day | Kitchen Chat

Without optimism, you can’t be an entrepreneur.” Cynthia Rowley

November 19th is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. It’s an honor to be Chicago’s Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO) founded by Wendy Diamond in 2013. WEDO is a non-governmental volunteer organization and global initiative celebrated in 144 countries and universities and colleges worldwide with the mission to empower women in business and alleviate poverty. The WEDO movement accelerates and educates the world on the importance of why it’s pivotal to empower women in business globally. WEDO convenes Business Leaders, Change Makers, Government Officials and Civil Society to collaborate and find solutions in critical areas of entrepreneurship eco-systems, education and policy creation to empower women in business. When women are elevated financially, communities, states, and countries prosper, and this builds a global blueprint to alleviate and eradicate poverty. WEDO’s achievements this past year include funding 500 Syrian refugee girls to attend high school in Jordan. In New York at the United Nations, the WED Summit sponsored 75 students from Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, Lalela, Rethink Academy, The Young Women’s Leadership School in Astoria, Yale, George Washington University, and Northeastern University

Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations in 2018.
Celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations in 2018.

I am honored to be Chicago’s Ambassador for WEDO. Usually, my Kitchen Chat co-host Chef Jaime Laurita and I celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in the beautiful Viking/Middleby Residential Showroom in Chicago with a party to recognize Chicago women entrepreneurs who make an impact in the community. Proceeds from these events benefit a Chicago charity. In 2018, it it was Project Style and last year it was Wings. Here are some special photos of past celebrations.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2019 in Chicago’s Middleby Residential Showroom with Dorian Hunter, winner of MasterChef Season 10

Celebrating some amazing women entrepreneurs in Chicago at the Middleby Residential Showroom in 2019, including Randy Fifield, Sheila King, Alice Benjamin, Victoria Watkins and Kathryn Sullivan Alvera. All proceeds benefited Wings.

Celebrating some amazing women entrepreneurs at Chicago’s Middleby Residential Showroom in 2018, including Jessica La Grange, Maria Pinto, Holly Hunt and Chef Carrie Nahabedian. Jane Moss, Treasurer of Viking traveled from the Mississippi headquarters to honor these businesswomen.

During this time of the pandemic, Chef Jaime and I are virtually celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. I interviewed three Chicago women entrepreneurs including Cynthia Rowley, Donna Mondi and Rebecca Darr who share their insights into Creativity in Chaos: Redefining the Art of Business during these challenging times. I hope their words will be an encouragement to you as you navigate your way during these times. If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Please connect with WEDO, a wonderful resource to find inspiration and tangible take-aways. The WEDO Virtual Summit is free this year. Usually it takes place at the United Nations.

Here are the Top Three Tips for Women Entrepreneurs from three honorees in Chicago:

1.) CYNTHIA ROWLEY, award winning fashion designer

Cynthia Rowley with her daughter, Kit Keenan in the Middleby Residential NYC Showroom

“Tenacity is key. If someone says “no,” figure it out another way. Being an entrepreneur is based on optimism because you are starting something and you’re willing to do what it takes to build it and grow it with the hope that it actually will become what you dream it will be. Without optimism, you can’t be an entrepreneur”

2. DONNA MONDI, ASID, NCIDQ,founder and president of Donna Mondi Interior Design

“Having a great network of women has helped me to maintain focus and stay positive. Make sure you understand all the inner workings of your business.”


” I have found myself at various times listening to the naysayers, the people who can’t see the vision and therefore decide that it can’t be done. And I have learned that the best thing to do is walk away from those people and surround myself with the people who see the vision and believe in the possibilities and get behind them. I think persistence is the most important thing that it takes. Some days you will feel like you are dragging a freight train behind you, but at the end of the day, if you know in your heart that is that right place to go, don’t give up.”

To honor the women entrepreneurs in your life today, please consider donating to Wings and help women and children get a second chance in life after fleeing from domestic violence. As Rebecca says in her video interview, calls to the domestic violence helpline in Illinois have surged over 70% in 2020 as compared to 2019. Women need our help! Here is a link to donate.

Thank you, Cynthia Rowley, Donna Mondi and Rebecca Darr for being such great inspirations to women in Chicago and beyond. We celebrate you today along with all of the other women entrepreneurs. Thank you, Chef Jaime Laurita for being my co-host on Kitchen Chat and for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Thank you, Viking/Middleby Residential for supporting these special WEDO events in your showroom. And thank you, dear foodie friends for being a special part of the Kitchen Chat journey. Your encouragement and friendship means so much to me. Please always stay optimistic, persistent and surround yourself with a great network of women (and men) who can see your vision and help you navigate the entrepreneurial path.

Happy Women’s Entrepreneurship Day!

Savor the day!