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Denny Balmaceda: A Menswear Blogger + Stylist in Jersey City

by Alexis Spoden
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Jersey City local Denny Balmaceda was sharing pictures of his outfits long before the influencer phenomenon began. He started taking photos as just a hobby, not realizing what it could become. He now has over 75k followers on Instagram and a successful blog {DennyBalmaceda.com} which he runs from his home office in Jersey City. Denny shares with us his story on how he turned his passions into a successful, self-made career, rather by accident. Keep reading to learn more about Denny Balmaceda, a Jersey City menswear bloggers + stylist and how he crafts looks from vintage + thrifted finds.

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How It All Started

Denny moved from the Philippines to Bayonne, NJ when he was around eight years old. Growing up, Denny always had an interest in fashion and would wear eclectic outfits even if they didn’t quite make sense for the occasion. 

“I would wear a suit during gym,” he said, explaining that he always just wore clothing that made him happy, rather than what was cool or on-trend.

After high school, Denny did not go to college, so he began working for a travel agency in Jersey City. That same year, he got his first digital camera {a Nikon Coolpix} and little did he know at the time, it was the start to his career. 

“I would take pictures of myself during my lunch break,” he remembers, and then would just upload them to his Facebook albums because he didn’t know where else to post them. His style was very eclectic, and sometimes flamboyant, channeling stars such as Elton John circa the 1970s. “People would always either compliment me [on my outfits] or make fun of me,” he recalls. 

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Denny was about 19 years old at this point and still did not know what he wanted to with his life. “All of my friends were off to college doing what they loved,” he explained, but he felt lost. He turned to photography and fashion as a creative outlet during hard times. “This camera helped me fall in love with something new to take my mind off things,” he said. Ironically he was already pursuing his calling even if he did not know it at the time. 

Denny eventually left the travel agency to work for Another Man’s Treasure in Jersey City when it was just a small shop on Grove Street. This marked “the next evolution of my career,” Denny explains, “because it is when I heavily got involved in vintage.” The owners of Another Man’s Treasure, Meika and Warren Franz, became Denny’s mentors, teaching him the ins and outs of the vintage industry. He would post most of his vintage and thrifted looks on platforms such as Lookbook.nu and Tumblr, which is where he gained most of his following because Instagram at the time was just getting started. Then in 2011, he officially launched his blog, Look Rich Shop Cheap

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The Evolution of His Blog

Look Rich Shop Cheap was a blog dedicated to showcasing thrifted outfits that emulated high-end, designer looks. For example, Denny would show how he re-created a $2,000 Alexander Wang look for only $100 using thrifted finds.

Due to the success of the blog and the desire to grow it further, Denny began working with a social media agency, and eventually re-named his blog from Look Rich Shop Cheap to just his name, Denny Balmaceda. As his blog and following continued to grow, Denny began to get noticed by brands. He would be invited to Fashion Week, and the term “Influencer” started to become heavily used. Also during the early stages of blogging, Denny dipped his toes in freelance styling, doing work for album covers, Nylon magazine, and artists such as Wyclef Jean. There was not as much creative freedom working for other people and brands so he stopped after about a year to focus on his own brand. Around 2015, Denny was able to quit his job at Another Man’s Treasure to pursue his blog full time.

A Typical Day for Denny

“No day is typical,” Denny points out, but there are some consistencies. He usually wakes up around 11:00AM {unless he has early meetings}, feeds his cats, answers emails, creates content, edits photos, then heads into the city to shoot. He recently just got a studio space in the basement of Mana Contemporary in Jersey City where he also does many of his photoshoots.

Read More: A Day in the Life of Jersey City Blogger Caitlyn Warakomski

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What Inspires Him

Movies, television, and music. Denny created the hashtag #SCENEStobeSEEN, which he uses on posts about outfits that are inspired by certain movie scenes, or television stars. 

“I hate the word influencer,” Denny explains, “I feel like everyone has an influence and it shouldn’t just be reserved for certain people.” For example, Denny is inspired by music and movies, then his followers are inspired by him, and so on and so forth. It is truly a circle of inspiration. 

On the Highlights of His Career

“There are so many,” Denny explains. “Every opportunity I get is a highlight for me. I never thought I would be the face of a hair brand, or work with my favorite brands, travel all over the world, meet my heroes, and meet people that would eventually become my best friends. Blogging saved my life.”

His Advice for Other Bloggers 

Denny is a huge advocate for authenticity. He explains that it should not just be about the number of likes or followers, and it is OK to turn down money or deals if a product is not right for your brand. He preaches, “Be yourself, be real, and love yourself because it feels so much better when all of your dreams come true.”

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On His Goals for This Year

“I want to delve into acting eventually, and I am working on writing a movie,” Denny revealed, which fits in perfectly with his brand considering his entire Instagram feed emulates scenes from old movies. “I want to leave a legacy of something in pop culture that people will remember.” 

Of course, his fulfilling job + working towards his goals don’t come without their own set of difficulties. “The hardest part of my job is where to go from here,” Denny admits. He has his dream job, but there is always pressure to stay relevant in the blogging industry. Denny is always thinking about “what’s next,” and looks forward to what the next chapter in his career will bring.

Be sure to keep up with Denny’s #SCENEStobeSEEN on Instagram @denny623, and on www.dennybalmaceda.com

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