Meet Mandy Lancia, our queen behind the scenes. If you’ve ever wondered who Martha is lovingly looking at on Mondays here’s your chance to get to know one of our favorite dog loving humans. It is a treat to have her around.

Growing up with a small business in the family has given Mandy a wealth of experiences to draw from and a spirit of resourcefulness. We are in awe of how good she makes us look. Her social media voice is simple, playful, and elegant. Her timing is chef’s kiss! Her photographs are beautiful and haunted with emotion. Quiet and comforting they stand still in a busy world. Mandy knows how to keep the plates spinning. Strategy is her middle name, orchestration is her game, and sleep is her favorite way to recharge.

We adore Mandy! She loves to bring people (and dogs!) together and nourish them. It's more be our friend than be our guest. Sit down. Relax. Let’s find out how she got started and what she’s cooking up these days! 

Hi Mandy! What was your favorite activity as a child?
I was obsessed with dogs as a child. Honestly, I still am. I would study encyclopedias of dog breeds from around the world. I also subscribed to dog magazines from a very young age.

Then when I was seven, I was surprised with a puppy for my birthday who became my best friend. Her name was Penny Lane, and we were inseparable. I threw many birthday parties for her and invited all of the neighborhood dogs. Their owners would drop them off in my backyard, and I had games and treats set up for the afternoon. I guess this was my first experience in event planning.

You take the dreamiest photos! How did you get into photography?
Thank you! I had a blog in high school, and think it just spiraled from there. I became the editor of my high school yearbook and newspaper, and when photos were needed, I would jump in.

Instagram was just getting popular when I started college. I began doing marketing for a local plant shop in Boston, so I was taking pictures daily for our social media and website. From there, I started photographing for other small businesses, and that’s still what I love to do today.

You are so wonderful at creating community and nourishing  friendships? What are your top three guiding principles?

  1. Trust your gut. I value my intuition, and when I don’t listen to it, things go awry.
  2. Be yourself. You attract people into your life because of the person that you are. There’s no need to change that when meeting someone new.
  3. Learn and listen. Take what you’ve learned about someone over time, and apply that to your relationship. We all love feeling seen and heard.

You are such a supporter and champion of small businesses, how did your love of small business begin?
My mom and grandma are entrepreneurs! Together they opened an antique and home shop when I was seven. I would work there after school and on weekends, which taught me about respect, responsibility, and dedication. But more importantly, it taught me about community. They opened as one 1200 sq ft store, and quickly expanded to take over their whole building, each unit having a different theme. A concept shop before it was trendy.

They were constantly hosting events, partnering with artists, and finding new ways to interact with their customers. And I was there every step of the way. Though they closed their shop after a decade, my mom now has another store of her own, running it in the memory of my grandmother.

You are a fabulous chef! How did you get into cooking?
Really just out of necessity. No one in my family cooks, so I was never taught or handed down recipes. I started cooking in college because I needed sustenance, but it didn’t bring me joy then like it does now.

Once I moved to Chicago and began making new friends, I wanted to host people, which meant cooking more often. I began hosting a cookbook club with a friend of mine, and that’s really what inspired my creativity. Everyone that attended was supposed to bring one dish, but I would always find myself cooking multiple because I was so intrigued to learn more. 

My mom was a busy single mom running her own business, so we were never sitting down at the table together. I loved the idea that I could make something that people could gather around. Now cooking is my creative outlet.

Tell us about the Glossary and your Twice Nourished dinner series?
The Glossary came about right after I graduated from college. I moved to Chicago and wanted a way to meet more creative women in the city. I began interviewing entrepreneurs, artists, and makers to feature online. If you can’t tell by now, I love an event/community gathering. I began hosting workshops, panels, field trips, and roundtables here in Chicago, and then as the community grew, I began hosting events and interviewing women around the world. I loved starting something that I wasn’t the center of. The Glossary was solely focused on the stories and experiences of others.

One of the event series that really took off was called Twice Nourished. I ran it with Chelsea, my same cookbook club friend, and it was structured off of those collaborative dinners. However, instead of everyone bringing a dish to eat, they would bring a skillset to share. Chef, florist, ceramicist, musician, photographer, etc… Each Twice Nourished dinner was entirely unique and completely collaborative. 

I loved both of these ventures, but unfortunately, they were lost in the pandemic. While I have no plans of starting them back up right now, I hold them super close to my heart and appreciate each and every person who was a part of the community.

Tell us about your newest venture Trails End Dinners?

I’m a girl with a passion for passion projects. I need something to pour my creativity into outside of work. 

I lost both my stepfather and grandmother during the height of the pandemic. During that time, my mom, grandpa, aunt, and I began watching The Lost Kitchen. It was a bright part of our day while handling funeral arrangements. My mom and I started thinking we could do something like this at her property, which was a historical renovation project that her and my stepdad had been working on for years. He unfortunately never got to see it finished, but we wanted a way to share it with our friends and family. 

So in 2022, we launched Trails End Dinners!

It combines our love of gathering, event planning, and cooking/eating into one monthly dinner party! Located at Trails End, we host 14 guests each month for a farm-fresh, vegetarian, five-course meal. It’s an escape from the city. Somewhere where you can truly relax and be taken care of. You’ll even make a new friend or two. 

What's Mandy Loving?

I love all of our gift bundles! I had such a fun time curating and photographing them. There's a little something for everyone. Fun for kids, bundles for travel, and something a little fancy and sophisticated for home.

Mandy's Picks