A Chat with Victoria Nones- Founder of SIT Social: A Dog Lounge

1. Tell me a little bit about what type of service SIT Social : A Dog Lounge provides.

The best way to describe SIT Social is that we are a small batch pet care service provider by day (dog daycare in our dog lounge, retail, and more) and a pet focused event space by night (doggie singles night, paint your pet’s portrait class, petworking, and more).

2. Tell me about yourself and your background.

My life, its experiences, and the themes consists of three things I’m passionate about – performing/comedy/singing, empowering/inspiring/educating women, and dogs, dogs, dogs! I grew up very immersed in musical theater and originally broadway was my dream. Over time that grew into wanting to write, produce, direct, and perform in my own material which is why I moved to Chicago to study at The Second City. While in Chicago, I wanted to do a job I loved (spend time with animals), so I started SIT – originally a home based dog walking and in home pet sitting business. SIT rapidly grew as I continued to perform, teach, learn, and immerse myself in the Chicago comedy scene. Over time I realized that I also had a deep passion for entrepreneurship and business. I’ve been fortunate to be a speaker and teacher at several conferences including the Yale Women In Leadership Conference, the Caterpillar International Women’s Conference, International Women’s Day at Accenture, National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and more. Outside of SIT, I founded and volunteer run a non profit for women in the comedy industry to build a professional network, and I just launched a tech startup for comedy. In a nutshell – I’m an entrepreneur, musical comedian, and dog mom.

3. How did you come up with the name SIT? Is it an acronym?

Actually, from a trademark perspective, I didn’t know it at the time but SIT was probably the worst name I could have chosen. Haha. I chose it because it was simple and short. I knew I wanted my website, name, and vibe to feel very succinct and to the point because people are busy these days – and that was really the method behind the madness. SIT works well for “sit” as in, “sit down, fido” but also  for pet SITting. It is not an acronym and I wish I could say there were more meaning behind it – but basically just wanted something simple and easy to remember. When we opened up our space as an expansion of my home based business last year – I decided to dub it “SIT Social: A Dog Lounge” – I wanted the space to feel like a dog’s living room.

4. SIT started as a petsitting service. How did it evolve to a dog a lounge and event space?

It started with a vision of offering a small batch space that redefined “daycare”. I looked around at the options for daycare in Chicago for dogs – and I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be the Whole Foods of dog daycare and not the Wal Mart of dog daycare. That is , I didn’t want a warehouse with hundreds of dogs running around in their own filth for a low price. The true push to open our space last year was really about the demand from clients. We kept getting calls from people wanting doggie daycare and they were going to get that service somewhere – so why not with us? In addition, as a creative person and performer, and former event planner – it felt natural for me to combine my event and stage producing experience with pets. At the end of the day, I love creating events and bringing pet people together. The pet focused events are the highlight of my week. In fact, we just had someone rent our space and host a “Doggie wedding” this past Sunday at the dog lounge.
Pics on our instagram. I have a pretty fun life!

5. What has been the most popular event so far at SIT Social?

The Paint Your Pet’s Portrait class is definitely a highlight and very popular. It is BYOB and it’s a fun and zen experience. We were actually just featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune for our class. It’s definitely a unique experience – 3 hours of instruction and your artistic muse/inspiration is your beloved fur child.

6. Where do you see SIT Social in ten years?

I would love to franchise this business model and see locations pop up all over the city so that each neighborhood has its own “hub”.

7. Do you need to have a dog to rent your space for an event?

Dogs are not required but are always welcome. We love being able to offer an intimate space for dog birthday parties, work get togethers with co-workers and their pets, and of course – any other event one can think of. 

8. Does SIT Social have a motto?

Originally for SIT it was “One Girl. One Mission. Happy Pets.” We also had a tagline inspired by client feedback that was “We’re Fun. We’re Flexible. We’re Family.” But nowadays – with the event side included – I would say another motto is – “Bringing People and Pets Together.” and “Building a community of pet lovers.”

9. What sets you apart from other doggie event spaces?

I don’t really know of any spaces in Chicago that are dedicated to strictly pet focused events. In addition, some daycares do offer rentals, but again, these are for large warehouse type spaces with unappealing aesthetics for an event. Our space looks and feels like a dog’s living room. Everything from the chandeliers, to the tufted benches, to the water fountains, and the dog murals on our walls. The black hardwood flooring and the low ambient lighting sets the stage for a more homey event venue. I would encourage anyone looking for a space to check out our photos or come visit us in person!

10.  How can dog lovers get more information about SIT Social and it’s rates?

Great question! Everything as far as rates is transparent and listed on our website. We have our space available for private rentals for up to 20 humans and 10-15 doggies depending on size. The hourly rental is $60/hr. We have awesome upgrades including custom pupcakes or dog birthday cakes (edible for dogs) or our E-Photo booth with customizable branding that can be setup for your guests to take cute photos with their pooches. We hope to see your awesome Chicago Urban Pets clients celebrate their dog’s next birthday with us, or bring a group out for paint your pet night. We also love giving back and are happy to work with and host fundraisers for local rescues.

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