Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Dynamic Duo: CheekyChicago.com's Jessica Zweig & Erica Bethe Levin

Everyone loves fashionable collaborations - Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Opening Ceremony's Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, Emma Watson and Burberry, Kate Moss and TopShop, Tom Ford and Colin Firth - and few duos represent our city better than CheekyChicago.com co-founders, Erica Bethe Levin and Jessica Zweig. This stylish set keeps it real by keeping Chicago current on everything from fêtes and fashion to restaurant reviews and dating tips.

Luxe File Chicago caught up with the pair who dished on a score of topics ranging from favorite curse word to their definition of the Cheeky Guy.

Erica Bethe Levin
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, CheekyChicago.com
Correspondent, NBC's new digital channel, Chicago Non-Stop
Contributor, NBCChicago.com
Contributor, Jetsetter.com

Where you met Jessica: We met while we were both working at the Lincoln Park Athletic Club in Chicago.

Who would you love to interview: Oprah Winfrey

Best party you've attended this year: NAHA's 10-year anniversary party

Favorite shopping website: I honestly don't do any online shopping.

Characteristic you admire most in men: A sense of humor, chivalry (it should not be dead), and motivation

Characteristic you admire least in men: Dissatisfaction

Define the Cheeky Guy: Respectable, well-mannered, in-the-know and treats a Cheeky girl the way she deserves to be treated.

Cheeky Girl ♥s Cheeky Guy: Erica & her boyfriend

Who you love to Twitter: I don't think I love Twitter at all.

Blog you frequent the most: Does Facebook count?

Play celebrity matchmaker. Perfect Hollywood pop tart couple: Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman

What's your favorite swear word: Definitely the "F" word

Rahm Emanuel. Happy or sad: Happy

What do you like most about Jessica: I love that she drives me to the airport when I go out of town. (Just kidding!) Jessica always has my back and is a perfect shoulder to lean on.

Typical day at the office: There is no typical day at the office! I work from home, or remotely, so I spend a lot of time out with clients and in meetings. While my main job is editing, days range from selling advertising to potential clients and meeting with potential partners, restaurant groups, and other online outlets to writing articles about food, wine, theatre, and books.

Achievements I am most proud of: I was recently inducted into Northwestern University's Council of One Hundred, a group of 100 female Northwestern alums around the country who are succeeding in business and entrepreneurship. I am the youngest member ever to be inducted.

Projects I am working on: I am working full-time on CheekyChicago.com - it's quite a project all on its own!

Work uniform: If I'm working from home, sweats or PJs work just fine. I opt for casual/business attire for daytime meetings but when I have a dinner or evening event, I get all dressed up.

Where I go for inspiration: I am truly inspired by really good food and theatre. I am also inspired by love, which is cheesy but true.

Favorite charities: Augie's Quest. My dear friend, Anne Marie Schlekeway, recently passed away from ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a debilitating and devastating disease with no cure. It attacks your muscles and nerves leaving you completely paralyzed - only your brain knows what's going on. I have made it a personal mission to fight against ALS for the rest of my life in honor of Anne Marie.

Former ALS activist and founder of Kiss My ALS,
Anne Marie Schlekeway

Favorite store or boutique in Chicago: Although it's not Chicago-specific, I do most of my shopping at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. I also love Intermix and Lululemon and am a big fan of SARCA on Wabash.

Favorite restaurant in Chicago: This is an easy one - NAHA! I am Chef Carrie Nahabedian's biggest fan. She is a female James Beard Award-winning, Michelin Star-earning chef. Her food is inventive, beautiful and delicious. I also love Quartino, Avec, Purple Pig, Sunda, Riccardo Trattoria and Terragusto.

Favorite travel destination: Manhattan. I've been going there 1-4 times a year since I was a kid. I went with my boyfriend in November for my birthday and we ate at thirteen restaurants. We want to make it a yearly tradition!

Who I most admire: My mentor, Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a fellow Northwestern Council of 100 council member. She was the editor at Glamour magazine for seventeen years and travels around the country speaking about office politics and women in the workplace.

Three words that most describe me: Organized, dork, loyal and fun. (Sorry, I had to use four!)

My celebrity crush: Always has been, and always will be, Robert Downey Jr. But I have to say, and this may sound like a weird one, I saw John Leguizamo's one-man show a few weeks ago in Chicago and I now have a strange celebrity crush on him, too. The boy can dance!

Actor, comedian & Cheeky heartthrob,
John Leguizamo

Most decadent thing I have ever purchased: My green sequined Christian Louboutins

Favorite indulgence: An 18-ounce filet mignon or a chocolate cupcake with buttercream icing

Favorite songs on my iPod: I have very quirky taste in music. My favorite songs on my iPod would be any showtune, anything by Billy Joel, Elton John or Queen.

Books I am reading: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Guiltiest pleasure: "The Bachelor", ""The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor Pad"

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook. All that tweeting kind of scares me.

I stay home to watch: See "Guiltiest pleasure".

One thing about me that no one knows: Even though I have the most social job in the world, I am a total homebody.

My hidden talent: I can play a mean piano.

Signature cocktail: Steve Carrow at NAHA makes the most amazing cocktail called the Grosella with Don Julio tequila, cassis, agave nectar and lemon juice.

Liquid Love: NAHA's Grosella cocktail

Words of wisdom: Tom Cruise's character in Vanilla Sky says, "Without the bitter, baby, the sweet ain't as sweet." It helps me get through those tough days.

I can't get through a day without: Cheese

The worst advice I was ever given: You can't start your own business.

Why I love doing what I do: I get to do what I love for a living. I get to write about the city of Chicago. What could be better than writing about Chicago and all of the history, art and culture it encompasses? Not to mention, it is the most rewarding and amazing feeling when I get to meet the women at Cheeky events who read the website and appreciate it.

Advice for anyone pursuing a career in media: You have to put in your time, but eventually it will pay off.

Luxe File Chicago has dedicated its site to the “love of living luxuriously”. Finish this sentence, “When it comes to living luxuriously, always…”: Wear an amazing pair of heels.

Jessica Zweig
Co-Founder and Director of Sales & Marketing, CheekyChicago.com
Correspondent, NBC's new digital channel, Chicago Non-Stop
Contributor, UrbanDaddy.com
Special Event Ambassador, Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

How CheekyChicago.com came about: Erica and I bonded over our shared passion for exploring Chicago through restaurants and going out. One day we were talking about this great restaurant Erica had tried and I said, "Erica, we should start a food blog or something." It was like a lightbulb went off. From there, the idea kept growing and in a few days, we had come up with the concept of CheekyChicago.com. Nine months later, we were a website.

Who you would love to interview: Lady Gaga

Cheeky songstress, Lady Gaga

Best party you have attended this year: Aside from the Top Ten Cheeky Chicks party at Sunda, I have to say that the VitaminWater party at the W Lakeshore in December, with Lupe Fiasco and Makeshift Prodigy, was the hottest party I've been to in the past year.

Favorite shopping website: RueLaLa or Gilt

Characteristic you admire most in men: Kindness, maturity and confidence

Characteristic you admire least in men: Arrogance, Peter Pan-ism (guys who never want to grow up) and lack of style.

Define the Cheeky Guy: He's down-to-earth, kind and has a good heart. But he's also super social and in-the-know, but without being pretentious. He can appreciate a fabulous restaurant or hot party as much as he likes laying low, watching a movie and ordering take out.

Who you love to Twitter: Ha! I love to Twitter in general. I definitely tweet at my friends and local Chicago writers including: @JamesGoeke @Mr_Laws @Stacy_Levy @JLynnePR @AmandaPuck @KelliZink and @AriBendersky

Twitter Tweeters: Jessica & Jason Laws

Blog you visit the most: I'm a huge fan of UrbanDaddy.com, even though it's not a couple.

Play celebrity matchmaker. Perfect Hollywood pop tart couple: Mila Kulis and Jake Gyllenhaal

Favorite swear word: I fucking love the word "Fuck".

Rahm Emanuel. Happy or sad: Happy

One thing about Erica you envy: Her cooking skills! Erica is an incredibly loyal and good friend. It's not something I envy per se, but something I really value and admire.

Typical day at the office: There really is no typical day at Cheeky. I work from home so as soon as I make my pot of coffee, I am at the computer for at least a few hours answering emails, making calls. I try to consolidate my meetings to just a few days a week, as I can have as many as five in one day.

Achievements I am most proud of: Our 80-page business plan; Cheeky's 2-year anniversary event that drew almost six hundred people; and anytime a random girl comes up to me and tells me she reads our website and loves it.

Projects I am working on: Our BIG fashion show, “The Cheeky People of Style”, next week at Bloomingdales; our April “Women and Whiskey” event; and a May event launching a restaurant opening with a cross-branded writing competition to send our next food writer to San Francisco.

Work uniform: Days without meetings, I like to wear yoga pants and my Lululemon hoodie. Days with meetings, I opt for leggings, boots, a cute top and my BCBG crop blazer and lots of accessories.

Uniform Du Jour: Lululemon yoga pants and hoodie

Where I go for inspiration: I go to a yoga class. A good restaurant for a good glass a wine with a good friend. W Magazine. Alone time.

Favorite charities: Vital Bridges and the Human Rights Campaign. I am very passionate about gay rights. I think it’s a disgrace that we don’t have equal rights for the gay community when it comes to marriage in this country. Many of my friends are gay and it’s something that is very dear to my heart.

Favorite store or boutique in Chicago: Sofia on Oak Street

Favorite restaurant in Chicago: Sunda, Dorado in Lincoln Square and Girl and the Goat

Favorite travel destination: Anywhere in Europe, especially France.

Who I most admire: My parents. They are hard-working, ethical, and loving people who know how to have a good time!

Three words that best describe me: Passionate, social and loyal

My celebrity crush: David Duchovny

Most decadent thing I have ever purchased: My upcoming trip to Vegas and my House of Harlow lace stiletto booties from Sofia.

Favorite indulgence: Cheese

Favorite songs on my iPod: All of the Lights by Kanye West; Hang with Me by Robyn; Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Book I am reading: Does CS magazine count?

CS magazine, March 2011 issue

Guiltiest pleasure: Bravo TV's The Real Housewives series

Facebook or Twitter: Such a tough call! If I had to choose, I would have to say Twitter.

I stay home to watch: Top Chef, Californication, Dexter and Real Time With Bill Maher

One thing about me that no one knows: I am terribly, terribly tone deaf.

My hidden talent: I make a mean peanut butter banana bread.

Signature cocktail: Dirty Martini, extra dirty with blue cheese olives

Words of Wisdom: Believe in yourself and the rest will follow.

I can’t get through a day without: Coffee. And talking to Erica at least 5 times a day.

Tale of Two Glamazons: Business partners and BFFs,
Jessica and Erica

The worst advice I was ever given: There’s not enough to go around. (There is.)

Why I love doing what I do: I wake up every day pursuing this thing that I created. I love Cheeky more than anything in the world. It literally feels like my baby and I get to spend all day with it.

Advice for anyone pursuing a career in Media: Don’t let your lack of knowledge deter you. “Fake it until you make it.” Believe in yourself and exude that belief and passion every single day with sincerity and people will want to work with you. People will believe in you, too.

Luxe File Chicago has dedicated its site to the “love of living luxuriously”. Finish this sentence, “When it comes to living luxuriously, always…”: Indulge. Life’s too short.

Photo credits: Grosella cocktail by NAHA bartender Steve Carrow. Michael Zajakowski/Chicago

Lululemon yoga pants and hoodie courtesy of Bucklette.com

CS magazine cover by Jack Perno

Posted by Kerry Shorr

No comments:

Post a Comment