LC opens up about pivoting from reality TV star to successful businesswoman — and why, as a mom, she decided to move back where it all began.
Lauren Conrad is now a multi-hyphenate, but you probably still remember her as a teen queen in the early aughts on reality TV hit Laguna Beach. She went on to front its spinoff series, The Hills, before deciding to leave the small screen and pivot in a big way.
Using her notoriety and platform, Conrad became a New York Times best-selling author, launched retail lines in partnership with Kohl's, and, in 2013, co-founded The Little Market, a nonprofit, online fair-trade shop that economically and socially supports women artisans and their families in underserved communities worldwide. The organization just hit a milestone — creating 1.25 million hours of work for its participating artisans in 25 countries.
While promoting a partnership with Planet Oat Oatmilk, which is offering a limited-time pop-up experience for consumers in various cities this summer, Conrad tells Scary Mommy that of course she's proud to have accomplished all that she has — but it's her family's well-being that's her top priority.
And that, in part, is what brought her back to the idyllic coastal California town where she first found fame.
"Big picture, when I think of what I'm proud of, it's of my family and being able to find normalcy for us," she tells us over Zoom. "We're pretty settled down; we don't live in LA, and [my kids] aren't really experiencing any of the stuff that I had for the last 15 years. So, I feel like they live a pretty normal life. 'Normal' in that they're so lucky."
Conrad, 36, and her husband, musician William Tell, are raising their boys — Liam, nearly 5, and Charlie, 2 — in Laguna Beach, where she grew up and filmed the MTV reality show. For her, it's not weird to be back home; more so calming.
"I feel really lucky to have grown up where I did, and I'm excited for them to experience some of the things I did," she says. "But yeah, it is a funny thing, right? Going back to your hometown. You go to drop your kids off at school, and you run into someone you haven't seen in, like, 10 years, and you're like, 'Oh, you're in this school? So, you made a tiny person?"
Not everyone is fortunate enough to grow up near the beach, but with the allure of screens these days, Conrad knows how vital it is for her own kids to embrace the outdoors and learn to respect their environment.
"I do think that growing up in Southern California, and near the beach, I was outside all the time — just like, 'Go play, be back when the street lights go on.' And it's nice to have kids that are active and spending a lot of time outside," she says of her sons. "I also think there is something about growing up on a beach, like, understanding the importance of taking care of it. That is your playground; that is where you spend your time. So I love that for them."
Conrad says her boys are "still too little" to know who she is and what she does for a living. Still, she knows one day they'll discover her MTV archives. Her hope is that they recognize the hard work she put in after her time on TV wrapped to make her fashion designer dreams come true.
"It's fun," she says of running multiple businesses. "I'm also fortunate because, in a lot of these businesses, I get to play the role that I choose. I'm on the creative side, right? I do our photo shoots and help with product development. So that's just fun for me. And then with Kohl's, obviously, that's been such a long relationship. The most recent launch was Little Co., my kids' line, and we expanded into home decor. So that's kind of my focus over at that business right now."
Conrad continues, "I'm in a pretty good place. I feel like, for years, it was always, 'What's the next step? What are we doing next?' And so I'm slowing down a little bit and focusing on what I have and trying to have growth there, as opposed to starting another business."
She is also trying to find some time for herself amidst all the chaos of work and motherhood. During the pandemic, Conrad took up gardening so she could have "20 or 30 minutes by myself in the yard," and now she's getting back into tennis.
"I'm working on it," she says of embracing solo time. "I think I do a pretty good job. I'm trying to make it more of a priority, even if it's a hobby, to do something just for me."
As Conrad spoke with Scary Mommy, she was in New York for the Planet Oat pop-up and planning to slip on some sweatpants and watch a movie in her hotel room before flying back to California the following day.
"My husband is with the kids, so I always feel better when one of us is with them. When we both leave them, I feel a little bad. It's hard to do," she admits of having alone time, "but so important."