For our latest “You Lucky Dog” ejournal series entry—which highlights owners and the beloved canine companions that they saved from shelters—we chat with Jena Gambaccini, 28, of fashion blog ChiCityFashion, whose two adorable mixed breed pups (pictured here on the Harper Sofa in Performance Felt-Ash) were adopted from Chicago-based animal rescue facility PAWS. We get the story behind her furry friends Lennox (the white Boxer mix) and Laz (the black Shepherd mix), where she looks for fashion inspiration, and her current career moves (hint: one involves a clothing line by an E! Television star).
Ok, first things first. How did you find these adorable dogs and decide to adopt them?
It all started with Laz. My now fiance, Micky (pictured below), and I got him Memorial Day weekend 3 years ago, after wanting to get a dog for a long time. We went into PAWS that weekend because we heard that they had just rescued 60 dogs from Oklahoma. We walked all around, but weren’t finding what we were looking for. We decided to do one more lap around the shelter, and saw this dog that was named Micky too (but with an “e”). I guess he had been out on a walk or something, because we didn’t see him the first time around. He was perfect, 10 months old, and really sweet. I named him Laz because my favorite designer is Proenza Schouler, and the designers’ first names are Jack and Lazaro. So that’s what I wanted to name my dogs. Then, almost exactly a year later, I was volunteering at PAWS and met Lennox. I had been wanting to foster a dog and had been trying to convince Micky for months. Once I told him about Lennox, he agreed. It’s funny, because we fostered him for a month, and I was ready to bring him back, but it was Micky who wanted to keep him! We ended up keeping his name because he’s not a Jack, he’s a Lennox (plus he’s deaf so he doesn’t know his name anyway)!
Why did you decide on a shelter dog? As opposed to, say, a breeder?
Most importantly, you are saving a life. And I think mixed breed dogs are cooler, more unique. Everyone I know has gotten a golden doodle recently! Some people think that it’s easier to train a dog from the beginning, but I have no desire to train a young puppy right now. PAWS specifically is a great organization because it is a no-kill shelter, and they treat the animals extremely well. We sleep with over 100 pounds of dog in our queen-size bed and we wouldn’t have it any other way…and yes, they are allowed on the sofa too!
VERY lucky dogs indeed. Let’s talk shop. What do you have going on these days career-wise?
Well, my blog, ChiCityFashion, will celebrate seven years this December, and I’ve been at it full-time for almost four years. For the last year, I’ve been doing a podcast called Fashion Friends on iTunes, where I host a different guest each episode and we discuss the latest fashion news and their position in the fashion industry (as well as other stylish topics). There were very few fashion podcasts when I started, so I wanted to bring something different to the table. It’s been really fun. I have an @chicityfashion Instagram account that has steadily grown to 23,000 followers. And, for just under a year, I’ve been working with Giuliana Rancic on her clothing line, G by Giuliana, as the creative director.
It’s always interesting why a blogger begins and what the impetus behind the blog was. Do tell.
Subconsciously, I was always interested in fashion. I wasn’t walking around at five years old saying, “I want to be a fashion designer,” but I loved playing dress-up as a little girl, and my Barbies had pretty extensive wardrobes. I will say that I was always creative, and once I discovered that there were other outlets for my fashion interests, like blogging, I decided to pursue it. It was in college—my senior year at Miami of Ohio—and at that point I didn’t really think it was a “cool” things to do. There wasn’t a big creative community where I went to school. But after three months of blogging, I got invited to a show at New York Fashion Week, so I had to start explaining myself to my friends. For a few years after college, I worked in social media and marketing for an online designer consignment company. Once I started to grow ChiCityFashion, brands began approaching me for paid content. As I began getting more and more partnerships, I was making more money than my day job… And, because I had zero free time between my job, events (for both my job and my blog), blogging and my partnerships, I had to decide between one or the other—so I decided to pursue ChiCityFashion full-time.
So you spread your fashion wings in small town Oxford, Ohio? What was the response?
What I wore was a little more avant-garde than your typical “college student look” at the time, although I wore many regrettable trends that we have the early to mid 2000s to thank! I was in a sorority, and when I went out, everyone would ask me, “Oh, do you have a formal tonight?” because I was typically more dressed up than everyone else. I used to think that I had to wear a dress and heels to be fashionable, but now I like to put together casual looks and have fun with it.