Alumni Spotlight Archive
Chef Zee Bhimani uses his Triton education to cook up successful business
When Triton College student Zee Bhimani was pursuing Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management degrees in Triton's Hospitality Industry Administration program, he searched for an affordable source for chef uniforms he needed for class. In the process, he discovered a profitable market and hasn’t looked back since. Bhimani of Des Plaines, assisted by a friend, began selling chef uniforms at reasonable prices through their business, Zee's Apparel, LLC, which also offers custom screen printing, embroidery and promotional products. The business has received praise from customers for the products’ affordability and quality.
Bhimani's line of work catches people off guard at times, he said. "It's odd to people when I tell them I have an apparel company once they learn about my background in Culinary Arts at Triton. (But) working in my family’s restaurants growing up, I became very passionate about food, marketing, sales and graphic design, and I figured out how to tie all of it into this business."
What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
Sacrificing my social life was difficult when starting up my own business. I was – and still am sometimes – putting in 12 to 14 hours a day; but in the grand scheme, it was worth it. And now that I’ve been in business for three years, I don’t regret anything.
What has served as a source of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
When someone says "you can't," it inspires me. It gives me more motivation to push harder and chase my dreams. My parents are also an inspiration because growing up and watching them struggle financially has made me realize that I have the ability to help them and make a change.
What would you describe as your strong suit?
I am very driven and motivated to become successful. Once I set a goal, I pursue it until I get it. I really believe that nothing can stop me. I also feel that I am a people person, as I always enjoy networking and meeting new people.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
Triton gave me a solid foundation to continue my career in hospitality and allowed me to pursue my passion. Although I have left cooking professionally temporarily, I am active within the industry with organizations, such as the American Culinary Federation, and I have recently picked up a bartending job on the weekends. This allows me to still stay involved with the industry I love so much and allows me to manage my businesses. Triton has also taught me leadership skills and opened me up to making lifelong friends.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
It may sound like a cliché but work hard, dedicate yourself and be persistent. It's that simple.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students? Don't be afraid to follow your dreams. Don't be content with what's presented to you in life; go after what you want. The only person that can stop you is you!
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to continue to expand my business with the intention of making it a nationally recognized company.
To learn more about Zee's Apparel, please visit zeesapparel.com.
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