When life took Crystal Gentilello halfway around the world to Italy, she found inspiration in the most surprising place: herself. It was there, living amidst the rich culture and storied history of cities like Rome and Perugia that Crystal, in her early twenties at the time, discovered the key to life’s next chapter—belief in her own strength and bravery.
After spending three years living abroad, Crystal returned to the States, where she traded one city for the next, putting down roots in every corner of the U.S. All told, this 28-year-old globetrotter has lived in ten cities—everywhere from San Diego, Houston, and Miami to Las Vegas, Seattle, and Boston.
Along her journey, Crystal moved to Chicago, where she harnessed the lesson she learned in Italy and, together with blogger Anne Sage, created her dream job, launching the digital lifestyle magazine, Rue. Creating Rue required a leap of faith: it wasn’t until two months into their partnership that Crystal met her San Franciscan co-founder at a photoshoot in New York City. Now well over a year since their first issue hit virtual newsstands, Crystal has made yet another move, this time finding her heart and home in San Francisco.
At the helm of one of the most recognized online glossies, Crystal—along with a list of talented writers, designers, and photographers—has made her way into the hearts of countless Rue readers. With each issue, she and her team promise enough inspiration and direction to enable any reader to create her most stylish life. We were thrilled when the magazine maven welcomed The Everygirl into her home—and agreed to share the journey that led her across the world, and ultimately to living the life she loves.
Full name: Crystal Gentilello
Current title/company: Co-founder & Editor in Chief of Rue Magazine
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University with a double major in English and Italian
Current city: San Francisco
Previous cities you’ve lived in:
Before finding my beloved San Francisco, I was a bit of a modern day nomad, spending time in San Diego, Houston, Miami, Las Vegas, Seattle, Boston, Perugia (Italy), Rome (Italy), Chicago, and at long last, San Francisco!
What is the most valuable lesson that you learned while living abroad? How much time did you spend in Italy?
Living abroad in Italy for three years is one of my proudest accomplishments. When you pluck yourself from all that is familiar, comfortable, and representative of “home,” you are forced to dig deep, find your strength, and confront who you really are. The most valuable lesson I learned through it all is that my strength and my courage will carry me far.
You moved from Seattle to Boston to Rome to Chicago and now San Francisco. When and how long did you live in each city? What prompted all of the moves?
Well, I spent the majority of my childhood in Seattle, which was a beautiful, wonderful place to grow up. But I always had lofty dreams of going to the East Coast for college, so I applied to schools soley in Boston and New York City. I was curious to experience a new part of the country and to meet people from different places. After receiving my offers, I chose Tufts and had a fantastic time going to college in Boston. (NYU was a close second choice.) I moved to Rome upon graduation after a year abroad in Perugia changed my life forever. While there, I fell in love with the language and the culture, and I promised myself I’d go back and live there after graduating. That’s exactly what I did. I had such open-minded and supportive parents. After two amazing years in Rome, I accepted a job in publishing in Chicago and eventually moved to San Francisco three years later after starting Rue to be closer to my cofounder, Anne.
When making plans to move to San Francisco, did you consider any other cities?
I really wanted to move to New York City at first, but when I really thought about it and was honest with myself, that wasn’t the life I wanted. I wanted to live in a city I was in love with that was beautiful and felt like home. San Francisco was that place for me, and I’ve been completely enamored with my city ever since arriving!
How did you go about meeting people and making friends?
I was lucky enough to already know quite a few people in San Francisco before moving here so the transition was quite easy. Plus, people in San Francisco are incredibly open, warm, and welcoming. I’ve found it easier to make friends here than any other city I’ve lived.
How has your most recent move to San Francisco affected your career aspirations? Did any of your past moves significantly affect your career path?
Growing Rue in San Francisco has been a total joy. Because we are in the mecca of start-ups, what we’re doing is nurtured and embraced in this city. I’ve found that it’s also who you meet and the networking you do largely affects your career path, not just where you are located.
What was the most challenging aspect of your move?
Honestly, it has all been pretty magical. I got here and everything just clicked, both in my personal and professional life.
What is your favorite thing about living in San Francisco? Least favorite thing?
There’s a subtle sophistication about San Francisco, and I love that about this city. It’s hip, forward-thinking, and always stimulating, but it’s not a flashy city. Least favorite thing? I don’t have one yet!
What advice would you have for anyone considering relocating to a new city?
Go where your heart is calling you to go and where you feel most alive. Not where you think you “should” go.
What inspired you to start Rue?
I wanted to create my dream job instead of waiting for someone to give the opportunity to me.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting Rue? The most rewarding experience?
In retrospect, I’ve loved every moment about starting Rue, even the challenging times. When you start your own business, the learning curve is steep. But that’s what I love: you’re forced to step up to the plate and grow in ways you wouldn’t normally be forced to grow.
What are the greatest challenges of running your own business? Do you ever miss the stability of working for someone else?
Running your own business is not made for the weak of heart. You have to have faith and strength when others doubt you or what you’re doing. As well, you have to find a way to be profitable. It can look glamourous at times (and yes, we are incredibly fortuanate at Rue), but at the end of the day, it’s about the bottom line. If it’s not, then you’ll quickly go out of business. At times I do miss the stability of a corporate job, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change it for the world. All the ups and downs are more than worth it.
What is one thing you now know that you wish you knew going into the process launching Rue?
That all the stretching and growing would ultimately make me a stronger, happier woman. So power through those moments with a smile on your face.
Describe your average work day or week (in terms of hours, travel, e-mail, calls, working with co-workers/designers, etc.):
I wake up at about 7am and go to the gym to work out for 45 minutes. I get home, shower, then hop on my laptop to begin the work day. I usually have a few conference calls scheduled each day and spend my time on editorial work, the business side of Rue, and talking with the our staff and contributors. In the evenings I like to unplug and give undivided attention to my personal life (my relationship, my friends, my family, etc.). But of course, when you have your own business you have to be on call 24 hours and sometimes there’s no way around that.
What advice do you have for girls looking to make it in online media?
Grow your online presence through various social media channels (twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram), and network network network!
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Truly believe that you can accomplish your anything you put your mind to, because you can! The only one between you and your success, is yourself.