Mogul in the Making: Lauren Conrad Takes Us Inside Her LA Office

Marni Golden
Mogul in the Making: Lauren Conrad Takes Us Inside Her LA Office
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It’s fair to say that Lauren Conrad is one smart cookie.

She’s managed to do the unthinkable: parlay reality TV fame and tabloid headlines into a bona fide empire, complete with two clothing lines (Paper Crown and LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s), a beauty book, a website, and a second fictional book series under her belt. Through it all, Conrad has also managed to stay true to the core sensibilities that made her so popular when she first burst onto the scene in MTV’s “Laguna Beach”—she’s approachable, no nonsense, and possesses a kind of self-awareness and sophistication that seems beyond her 26 years. She really does seem like the kind of chic, down-to-earth gal you’d want for a friend.

So how does the budding mogul get it all done? Conrad let us spend an afternoon in her offices to get an inside look at her process. The Paper Crown offices, as it happens, are located in the low-key college town of Westwood, Los Angeles, and upon entry, there’s no mistaking that it’s Conrad’s place. The decor is flirty, chic and includes an array of countless design sketches, mood boards, ladylike trinkets and racks of clothing.

Conrad apologized for the chaos, saying that earlier that day she’d had a fitting for a breast cancer event. The fitting, however, was not for herself but for a handful of survivors she was dressing in custom-made looks. Such an amazing feat isn’t something you would probably expect from an alumnus of MTV’s reality show circuit, but Conrad has made a thriving career out of keeping people guessing.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Conrad at work (clad in Paper Crown’s holiday collection, of course!), and read on to hear what the burgeoning mogul has to say about design, splurges, New Year’s essentials, and how she’s managed a steady rise to the top.

StyleCaster News: Tell us a little about Paper Crown — what’s behind the name? What’s your inspiration for it?

Lauren Conrad: We thought of a lot of different names. We wanted something a little bit feminine, a little bit whimsical but not too young. I was talking about when I was younger and the idea of “dress up” and how much fun it was. When I used to go to my grandma’s house, I would put on dress up clothes. We had construction paper there, and we would make crowns. I love the idea of creating your own glamour out of something that was pretty simple, so it made sense for the name.

Your clothes are reflective of your own personal style — clean, feminine and modern. Who are your style icons?

There’s not one person that I say I want to look like. When we’re pulling up photos for inspiration, we tend to pull photos from years and years ago. We’re more likely to pull a photo of Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot as opposed to something off a website from today.

The photographer, Steve, who’s a good friend of yours, thinks you’re akin to a modern day Martha Stewart with all of your endeavors (only cuter and younger, of course). It’s actually kind of on point! Did you ever see this happening?

I think the thing is that I’ve been very fortunate in my career. There’s not a business or a master plan as far as I’m concerned. I take it week by week, and I don’t think you ever expect to be able to do the next thing. At the moment, I think we’re really lucky. I get to do a lot of things that I really love. I work really hard, and it’s important I enjoy doing all of them.

We’re sure most girls would swoon over your closet! Can you tell us a recent splurge?

My mom was a great bargain hunter, which I love because it kind of taught me how to dress high and low. I love wearing designer pieces with something I found at Target. But I recently splurged on a Goyard leather carry on. You don’t have to check it, and you can wear it at the airport with a T-shirt and jeans and it still looks great because it pulls the whole outfit together!

What are some of your favorite local hangouts?

I love my salon. My hairstylist Kristin Ess opened up her own little studio. It’s fun. She’s fantastic, is a close friend, and is thankfully very flexible with my schedule. I’ll be working all week, and I’ll come in at like 7 at night. My hair takes seven hours, so sometimes we’ll order take out and drink champagne. We also like to fool around a bit, so it probably takes a lot longer than it should!

Wait, seven hours?! Explain please!

Well, I usually wear extensions!

Are you planning to wear anything from your holiday collection on New Year’s Eve?

I’m actually going to wear the little black strapless dress that I wore in our shoot and that top hat! I wear it every year on New Year’s Eve. And shoes, well, for most of the night!

Photography by Steve Erle with equipment courtesy of Siren Studios

Hair by Kristin Ess

Makeup by Amy Nadine

All clothes by Paper Crown

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Get a behind-the-scenes peek at Lauren Conrad at work in her office, donning Paper Crown's upcoming holiday collection!

Photo: Steve Erle/

Everything in Conrad's office telegraphs her brand of youthful sophistication—take, for example, the soft pink walls and glittery leather that bears the company's name. 

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad's more than a designer and a beauty maven—she's also an author! Here, two of her books sit in her office.

Photo: Steve Erle/

The name "Paper Crown" has a rather sentimental story, according to Conrad. "When I used to go to my grandma's house, I would put on dress-up clothes," she says. "We had construction paper there, and we would make crowns. I love the idea of creating your own glamour out of something that was pretty simple."

Photo: Steve Erle/

At left, Conrad wears Paper Crown's London Coat in tan, from the Fall 2012 collection. At right, inspiration snippets are pinned to an artful bird cage.

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad loves her Chanel perfume. Here, several bottles are artfully arranged on a mirrored tray, along with her precious tiara. 

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad is known for her flawless looks when it comes to beauty, and she revealed to us that her often-imitated hairstyles take up to seven hours to perfect in the salon! 

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad's design sketches for a potential upcoming collection.

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad's sweet tooth, manifested in a tray of pink taffy.

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad's style icons are more old-fashioned than contemporary. "We're more likely to pull a photo of Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot as opposed to something off a website from today," she says.

Photo: Steve Erle/

Conrad in her signature New Year's top hat and the party dress she plans to wear to ring in 2013. To the right is her mood board, a hodgepodge of her inspirational images for upcoming collections.

Photo: Steve Erle/

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