The Duo Behind Detroit’s Folk on Creating a Positive Environment for Women in Food

As part of our Taste Makers series, Sarah Welch of Marrow sits down with Folk’s Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes for an intimate conversation
(From left) Rohan Foulkes, Sarah Welch, and Kiki Louya pictured at Marrow

This spring, news broke that Sarah Welch and Ping Ho would partner up with Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes, the duos behind Detroit’s Marrow and Folk respectively, to establish Nest Egg LLC. The ultimate archetype of partnership, the hospitality group will encompass all of the restaurateurs’ current and future endeavors. Listen in as the now partners’ talk on the commonalities that led them to each other. 

Sarah Welch: Let’s tackle how you two met — a lot of people think you’ve known each other for a long time.

Rohani Foulkes: No, we had the same idea for a local market in Detroit. We were looking at all the same places, meeting all the same people, and a few people got us confused. One day, a woman said, “Hey, do you know this other woman who’s doing the same thing?” So, I reached out on Facebook. 

SW: Did you share similar struggles in the industry?

Kiki Louya: When we first met, we cried for hours, because we had similar experiences in the industry, and we’re passionate about creating a positive environment, as opposed to what we experienced, which was abuse — sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal. I couldn’t have the same conversation with a guy, because he wouldn’t have had the same experience. Ninety percent of the restaurants I’ve worked for have been male-dominated. It made me decide to leave the industry and then come back. It took a long time for me to find my confidence.

RF: As a young mother who got pregnant while in the industry to another staff member and was treated very poorly in that situation, it occurred to me that I couldn’t stay in the industry at the time. And that was just one incident of many. But the really beautiful part of it is that I’m now surrounded by women in food — very strong, uplifting, empowering women.

SW: Are you now seeing a change in women in the food industry?

KL: Yes and no. Women enter the workforce at the same pace as dudes, but we’ve always had to find ways to balance all these other responsibilities. I call it slashing. Like chef/owner/HR specialist/accountant/mom/wife — because you do wear all the hats.

— As told to Ashley Winn 

Take a Bite

Folk, 1701 Trumbull Ave., Detroit,; Marrow, 8044 Kercheval Ave., Detroit,