It’s hard not to love Lauren Conrad. One of MTV‘s original reality stars, she was the sweet girl next door (in the beachfront mansion). We have had the chance to watch her go from the sometimes-desperate high school girl to modern day mogul. Conrad’s story is very different from many of her reality costars. Instead of trying to break into acting or losing herself in fame, she has leveraged her reality TV attention to grow her fashion, writing, and blogging careers. She dropped her pregnancy announcement just as we rang in 2017, and it seems LC’s life is about to get even better. We dug through interviews with Conrad and her reality friends throughout the years to see her transformation.
She admits she was a bit spoiled
It’s safe to say Conrad may have been the cutest little kid ever. Born February 1st, 1986 in Newport Beach, California, Lauren Conrad was the ultimate California girl. She had blonde locks from the beginning, and she was probably just too adorable to say no to. “I was a little towhead. I was the first baby in the family,” she told Allure. “My dad had a bunch of brothers and sisters, and I was a little spoiled. I was a little bit of a brat, but I’m glad I looked sweet.”
By the time she reached school, Conrad was already coming into her own fashion sense. And she has no trouble finding the humor in her nineties looks. When she shared this throwback Thursday look, she captioned it, “#tbt to when I rocked gold scrunchies and acid washed overalls like no ones business”
She even styled herself as a kid (and the results are adorable/hilarious)
It’s clear that Conrad was always a little fashionista. In an interview with Elle, she shared that she’s always wanted to go into the fashion industry. When she shared some of her favorite school pictures featuring blunt bangs and floral dresses, she told Yahoo, “I styled both my outfits and hair for all three of these photo days. Pretty funny, huh?”
Conrad also occasionally shares some childhood pics on Instagram. “On a scale of 1 to 10 How jealous are you of my kitchen scissor bangs,” she captioned her sweet look.
She went from ‘normal’ rich teen to reality star
In 2004 the world met Lauren Conrad along with her high school buds Stephen Colletti, Kristin Cavallari, and Lo Bosworth on MTV’s Laguna Beach. The teens were thrust into the public sphere as one of the first reality shows. They even preceded other franchises like Bravo’s The Real Housewives. Conrad sported the typical Orange County tan and blonde hair. “That’s Orange County hair. It’s really bleached and straight,” she told Allure. “And a lot of sun on my skin. Now I’m always wearing sunscreen.“
As crazy as filming a reality show must be, Conrad came across as a normal teenager. A normal teen living in a mansion on the beach, but still a normal teen. She laughed and gossiped with her girlfriends, while pining after that unrequited love.
She even skipped the occasional class. “When you get into senior year, it’s a lot harder to go to school,” Lauren told MTV in an interview. She shared that she sometimes drove to school and parked her car before deciding to turn around and hit the beach.
Cast member and friend Dieter Schmitz told Time in 2014 that Conrad is as sweet as she seemed on the show. “Lauren’s one of my best friends. She hasn’t changed at all since we were kids,” he shared. “She’s still the same, kind person I knew growing up. We still see each other occasionally, and she hasn’t changed a bit.”
Team LC versus team Kristin
As sweet as Conrad seemed on Laguna Beach, she became caught up in one of reality television’s greatest rivalries. She was firmly planted in a love triangle with costars Stephen Colletti and Kristin Cavallari, and we, the audience, were forced to choose: team LC or team Kristin?
I was team LC all the way. Cavallari seemed to revel in the role of mean girl on the show, and Conrad always seemed genuinely heartbroken over the situation. Years later, Cavallari spoke with Buzzfeed about the drama. “I think because of the show, the rivalry between Lauren and I sort of escalated. We were never friends. We just weren’t,” she shared. “I didn’t hate her before MTV came and the way it sort of turned into. And that’s because I felt like she was trying to steal my boyfriend.”
Conrad did have some cringeworthy moments on the reality show as she pursued a boy who was clearly into Cavallari. Let’s just be glad we don’t all have to relive our high school squabbles and heartbreaks on an MTV reality show.
The girl who chose her boyfriend over Paris
In 2006 Conrad left Laguna Beach behind for new beginnings. Not only was she attending a new fashion school, but she had a new internship at Teen Vogue and a new MTV reality series. Unlike on Laguna Beach, Conrad was no longer just one of many cast members in her new show The Hills. This was her own show documenting her transformation. And just like Laguna Beach, Conrad was still the lovable girl next door making plenty of honest mistakes, especially in the love department. “Even though I know how it all ends, it was a little difficult watching my younger self struggle — I was in way over my head!” she wrote in her blog recently. Who could forget yelling at their television screen when Conrad decided to pass up the chance to go to Paris with Teen Vogue in favor of spending the summer with her loser boyfriend?
Her friendship with Heidi Montag deteriorated before our eyes
Throughout The Hills, Conrad seemed to really come into her own. She turned things around at work after skipping Paris and continued to take advantage of every opportunity. She ditched the boyfriend and nurtured new friendships. She also struggled with an old friendship. Conrad’s relationship with friend and roommate Heidi Montag deteriorated before our eyes when Montag starting dating now-husband Spencer Pratt.
When asked about the conflict, the probably not-at-all jealous or bitter Montag had nothing nice to say about her former friend. “I spent years pretending to like her for a living,” Montag told Us Weekly. “It was literally my job to deal with her, and it wasn’t pleasant… I had nothing to do with her problems. I even tried to help her. The fact is, she lied about me and tried to destroy my life, yet I was the one painted as the villain so the show could have her as the good guy.”
She finally moved on — outside the spotlight
After Heidi Montag moved out of the apartment on the show, their friend Audrina Patridge moved in among rumors that she didn’t even like or get along with Conrad. When Conrad announced that she was leaving The Hills, it was sad for fans, but obviously a great career move. She told MTV that she was ready to leave the drama behind. It also freed up her time to focus on her true love: fashion.
By 2009, Conrad launched her fashion line at Kohls, which features romantic, flowy fabrics and fashion forward looks. She has even collaborated with Disney for special lines inspired by the classic movies like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Swoon!
This was also the year that Conrad worked on transforming her body and even posed in a bikini. “I don’t usually take bikini photos,” she told Allure. “It was at a point in my life where I was focused on getting fit, and I worked really hard to get there. I was proud of being in shape, so I didn’t have a problem with it.”
She wrote a bestselling ‘novel’ that we suspect has more than a grain of truth
After finishing The Hills and launching her own full-fledged fashion line, Conrad decided to add another title to her career — author. In 2010 Conrad became a #1 New York Times bestselling author with her young adult novel, L.A. Candy. The book was about a nineteen-year-old girl living in L.A. who is approached about doing a reality show. In the novel, the main character Jane gets caught up in the free designer clothes and invites to Hollywood premieres, only to find out that fame means everyone wants something from you. This book seemed to Conrad’s chance to set the record straight after experiencing the drama of a (perhaps scripted) reality show.
She almost did another reality show
As busy as she was in 2011, Conrad was actually ready to jump back into the reality scene. MTV announced that they had been planning to reunite with Conrad for a reality series following her life in fashion and design, but EW reported that the deal fell through. “We decided not to go ahead with the show,” David Janollari, EVP, Head of Programming for MTV told EW. “She did do a pilot. There were talks about whether we could somehow manage to put together a special based on that footage but that’s also a big question mark based on her interest in that and the finances. We love her! We would love her on our network!”
The show had planned to be a documentary of Conrad’s life and business. Cancelling the show had to have been quite the blow, but the sweet girl-next-door decided to stand up for herself. In a statement by the now more assertive Conrad, she didn’t hold back her disappointment with the network. She released a statement saying that MTV had agreed to do the show, but felt it was too “high brow” for their audience. Conrad commented, “We delivered the show that we sold and are sorry MTV didn’t feel their viewers were savvy enough to appreciate it.”
She became a legit savvy entrepreneur
2011 was also the year that Conrad claimed her status as a serious business owner. Proving that she was not just your average reality star, she shared her business cred with Forbes and immediately addressed any skeptics. “Many of you are probably wondering why you should take a person like me seriously as an entrepreneur,” she wrote. “I run two clothing lines, two web sites and a book franchise on top of directly managing my brand and endorsement deals.” Mic drop.
The confident Conrad explained that she was not merely a reality star starting a fashion line, but a serious entrepreneur whose life was documented as she came up in the fashion industry. She admitted that her reality status helped her launch her brand, but noted that “a successful enterprise can’t just run on fame.” Conrad shared business tips such as how to truly engage with your audience and the power of connection. In this article she owned her success and made no apologies. Quite a shift from the quiet teen waiting for Stephen Colletti to call her back!
We’ve seen her fashion career evolve
Lauren’s fashion career has changed a lot, considering it started in that closet at Teen Vogue! Conrad interned from 2005 to 2006 and credits the experience with helping her make important connections in the fashion world. “It was less about the work I was doing and more about being exposed to the industry and the inner workings of a magazine,” she told Teen Vogue. “I really loved the shoots.”
Now that she is the one calling the shots, Conrad still stays true to herself and her style. “I almost always want to wear everything I design,” she told Teen Vogue. Conrad shared that she starts each collection with a story that inspires her. And the hardest part about a booming career in the fashion industry? “The hardest part is balance — making sure you devote time to the people in your life as well as your projects.”
She doesn’t sacrifice her personal life for her career
It’s clear that Conrad at least made some time for her personal life, because in 2014 she wed longtime boyfriend William Tell. That was also the year Tell graduated from law school. A happy Conrad shared a picture of the couple on graduation day captioning it, “This guy graduated from law school today! So proud! #esquire.” Tell told US Weekly that Conrad helped him get through the sometimes grueling workloads of being a law student. “She’s extremely supportive of me being in law school, which is funny because I mostly come home and want to forget about it or to talk about what I’m doing at work,” he joked.
But the best part about that year? “My favorite moment from 2014 was no doubt the day I married my best friend,” Conrad wrote in her blog. “Our wedding was a dream, and William and I were over the moon with happiness to be celebrating with our closest friends and family.” Another great part of 2014? Throwing down $8.5 million for her dream mansion in Laguna Beach.
What she said about turning 30
Like any young woman, Conrad took some pause as her 30th birthday approached in 2015. Unlike most other 30 year-old women, though, she was also preparing to show her first collection at New York Fashion Week. In an interview with Glamour, she talked about evolving her style as she entered her new phase of life. “I was trying [on a tulle skirt] and was like, ‘I gotta hurry up and wear this before I turn 30!'” Conrad laughed. “I probably won’t actually follow that rule though.”
She gives back in a big way
With all of the fame and success, one thing hasn’t changed: Conrad still has a huge heart, and she’s putting it to good use. In 2016, Forbes profiled her non-profit venture The Little Market. The Little Market‘s mission is to “build sustainable partnerships with artisans around the world, by connecting them with customers through an online marketplace and to empower women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families.”
After having the chance to travel with her best friend and business partner Hannah Skvarla, Conrad was struck by the lack of independence many women around the world have. “We had the incredible opportunity to visit organizations in Tanzania and Uganda that were working with female artisans and entrepreneurs who were struggling to make ends meet.” In October 2013, the friends started The Little Market.
Her next chapter: motherhood
On New Years Eve of 2016, Conrad made all moms jump with glee by announcing that she was joining their tribe. Conrad and her husband are expecting their first baby in 2017, and she seems thrilled. In her photo caption on Instagram, she wrote, “”Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2017 is going to be the best year yet…” We agree LC!