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2011 June 10

Chic Sites: Melissa Skoog Dunagan's OnMyPlate.com

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(NEW YORK) The New York fashion world lost one of its finest last August, when veteran publicist and consultant Melissa Skoog Dunagan decamped for the Windy City. Now representing Chicago institutions such as the Chicago History Museum's Costume Collection, North Shore style emporium neapolitan collection, and national fashion brand L.K. Bennett, Dunagan has also managed to find time to launch OnMyPlate.com, a stylish amalgamation of two of The Daily's favorite pursuits: food and fashion. We rang her up at her lakefront apartment (that's so large, compared with Manhattan standards, it's almost embarrassing) for the skinny on her delicious new enterprise. ASHLEY BAKER

We had no idea you're such a foodie! 
I first learned how to cook about ten years ago, when I was working at Banana Republic in San Francisco. My friend Rachel taught me how to cook my first meal, and I fell in love. Immediately, I started investigating markets, cookbooks, tabletop, and ingredients. I've always wanted to merge the things I love—fashion, food, and home entertaining—into a single project. The idea for On My Plate came together around the holidays [in late 2010], and I built the site earlier this year. It just launched a few weeks ago, in May.  

What's the concept?
I started out my career in editorial at Vogue and then Marie Claire, and then I was a buyer for Banana Republic, so the majority of my career has been product-oriented. I've really missed that side over the years, so the site was a great way for me to combine my professional background with my personal interests in food, fashion, and home entertaining. 
Essentially, I take readers inside the kitchens and cabinets of interesting subjects who area also somehow linked to fashion. So far, I've featured Meggan Crum, Roxanne Lowit, Angel Chang, Darrell Hartman, and Jessie Randall

Who did you work with on the site's design? 
Offshoot Design, a Chicago firm, built the site, and I work with a local graphic designer on my posts. The illustrations are by Chesley McLaren, who has done beautiful work for Chanel, Christian LaCroix, Prada, and Henri Bendel, among others.  

How do you hope to grow the site and its audience?
I would love to introduce and sell product by 2012. The idea for the site is to gain my own voice, so readers understand my taste and vision before I introduce products.

How do you stay on top of the market?
Right now, it's mostly featuring things I love—and there are a lot of those! I frequent a lot of boutiques to check out what they're carrying—Tabula Tua in Chicago, John Derian in New York, and then find things on the web that are the same or comparable. I'm going to be attending [trade show] Maison & Objet in September in Paris.

What is the most notable difference between Chicago and New York?
The water culture here in Chicago—I never realized how alive the lakeshore is during the summer. Now, I live across the street from a beach, and it really feels like one. 




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