Nestled above an AT&T store in Union Square, Kellogg's opened a brand-new cereal café in mid-December. With paintings of Tony the Tiger on the wall and a LaCroix vending machine in the corner, the NYC spot juxtaposes pieces of your childhood with a millennial-savvy playground. That's why, even though it may sound incredibly random, Lauren Conrad partnering with Kellogg's to promote their cereal café actually makes a lot of sense. Especially when I have the chance to chat with her, first and foremost seeking her tips for capturing the perfect food Instagram. (FYI, Kellogg's venue has a literal Instagram station, complete with little toys and bright lights for your snapshots. Because, of course.)
"I think it's choosing only to photograph beautiful foods. I think a lot of people document every meal," explains Conrad, whose favorite cereal is Rice Krispies. "If you made something or if you're at a restaurant and it's especially beautiful, I think that's when you 'gram it."
That advice seems to embody the 31-year-old's public persona to a T — her Instagram is expertly curated, major news about her personal life is revealed in thoughtful blog posts, and her clothing line is for "designed for a chic, effortless lifestyle," per its description on Kohl's site. Ultimately, she's in control of her image; as she should be.
"I think that if you have something you really love and you can somehow make that your job, it's amazing."
And if you're anything like me, you likely grew up glued to your couch, watching the latest drama unfold between Conrad, then known as L.C., and her MTV castmates. Some of us (cough, cough, raises hand) even took it a step further, trying to emulate her style in our personal wardrobes. Whether that meant side bangs and thick headbands, or effortless beachy waves and sundresses.
Well, since leaving behind her reality TV days — and yes, she really wants to leave them behind — she's become more of an influencer in the fashion and social media spheres. Her "personal brand," if you want to call it that, evokes a sense of nostalgia for your high school days, but also a level of aspirational effervescence. It's why I can't help but ask her advice for other women who want to start their own businesses.
"I think that if you have something you really love and you can somehow make that your job, it's amazing," Conrad says. "Because if you love what you do, it doesn't feel like work. You don't mind being busy, you wake up everyday excited to do that. And I feel like that's the best feeling."
As for her previous jobs, when I ask whether she'd do a Hills reunion, she gives a nod to last year's 10-year anniversary special. ("It was amazing, I got to see a lot of the crew that I had worked with years ago, and some of the producers.") As for Laguna Beach, she admits more reunions happen off-screen, saying, "I mean I see a lot of them pretty often. Not on television necessarily, but we do a reunion that way."
"Honestly I think that I was more challenged because I was on reality television than being a woman, you know?"
Even if it may be hard for fans to hear, of course, it makes sense she's trying to move past that side of her life. This becomes all the more clear when I ask if she'd ever return to the world of reality television, she says, "I don't have any plans to. I did it for a while. I think that especially now having a family it might be a little difficult."
Given how frequently the subject's been in the spotlight lately, I also ask if she regularly faces sexism in the business world. "I personally don't feel like I face a lot of aspects of sexism, but I work in the fashion industry and there are a lot of females in that industry," Conrad replies. "So I think that it's sort of unique to me and others that work within that industry."
She does extend sympathy, adding, "I think a lot of women have to deal with that on a daily basis and I feel so fortunate to not have to experience a lot of it. Honestly I think that I was more challenged because I was on reality television than being a woman, you know?"
As for her life right now, Conrad seems focused on family. When asked about her son Liam's first Christmas, she explains, "He's a little tiny to take part in a lot of it, but I think really having children around during the holiday season just makes it that much more special." She acknowledges how with kids, you make new traditions, "whether it's visiting Santa or you know, just making Christmas morning really special."
Still, she embraces a funny truth: "Right now he'll probably just want to play with wrapping paper." But sometimes, the most memorable moments are the ones you can't plan — whether that's a single black mascara tear or a baby playing with gift wrap instead of actual toys. And even if Conrad's trying to leave behind her MTV days, there's no doubt those same fans are eager to see whatever she does — or posts in a perfectly filtered Instagram — next.