Social Media Star: Pinterest tastemaker Lauren Zwanziger on design school, travel and fashion favourites

Lauren Zwanziger

Lauren Zwanziger

Each Friday, we’ll be profiling one of our favourite movers and shakers on social media. From the pop-up power of Pinterest to the beautifully crafted images on Instagram, we’re learning the tricks of the trade from the ladies that do it best (and most stylishly, of course).

It’s hard to imagine that a just-out-of-college Pinterest user would make headline news, but that was the case for Lauren Zwanziger. She’s become a local legend in her hometown of Nashville thanks to her dreamy photos and enviable inspiration boards. Pinning since 2010, this budding fashion designer credits Pinterest not only for her virtual fame, but also a confidence booster for her work.

As a recent graduate of O’More College of Design and a tastemaker on the Pinterest marketing website HelloSociety, Zwanziger has connected with many brands as well as the international community through her pins. Boasting a following of 4.9 million, it’s needless to say that Pinterest has been a life changer for the 21 year-old.

We’re catching up with this social media star to find out how she pinned her way to the top.

When did you join Pinterest? What motivated it initially?
I joined Pinterest back in late 2010. I was a sophomore in college at the time and had heard about it from some of my classmates. It is probably the most helpful tool as a design student. For the first time, I found a website that helped me to create inspiration and concept boards. That’s huge because we’re essentially required to create one for every project that we do. Needless to say, I was on it a lot!

It’s amazing how your local news station acknowledged your Pinterest stardom and even featured you. How has Pinterest changed your life?
It’s great to feel supported by my hometown. Nashville is such a creative city with so much talent, so it’s exciting to feel embraced by that community. But the most exciting part is that Pinterest has not only connected me with my local community, but with an international community. I’ve been able to connect with followers from all around the world. As a young designer, fresh out of college, there’s no better reassurance than to know that your aesthetic is liked by so many! It has given me the confidence to pursue larger goals than I thought I could at only 21.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to start working with a company called HelloSociety as a Pinterest tastemaker. Working with them has exposed me to some interesting brands that fit my style. For example, HelloSociety introduced me to brands like Bourbon & Boots, which is a great Southern company.

What inspired you to start designing clothes? Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
I don’t think there was a time in my life where I didn’t want to design! It’s one of those desires that just feels so natural, like it was always there. I was also lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me to be creative and to pursue it as a profession. My parents also introduced me to my love of travel which is what I think got me into fashion design. I was able to travel around Europe at a young age, and I think those experiences can change a person. After being exposed to all of this amazing culture and design I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

Are there any designers you look up to or inspired by? 
There are too many! I have always been a huge fan of feminine lines like Valentino and Chloé. I’m comfortable in very feminine clothing, so that aesthetic is one that I naturally gravitate toward. Those designers just understand how to dress a woman so she feels like a woman. There’s also a part of my style that tends to be very boyish, so Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler are definite favorites. They’re both so innovative. Every season they just blow me away.

With such a huge following on Pinterest, are there any challenges?
My following on Pinterest built up really fast, so at first I was a bit nervous to pin anything! After being somewhat afraid of my account for about a month, I decided enough was enough – I just needed to pin things I like and not worry about the response. I think it helps to put the number of followers out of mind, it helps me relax and keep my pins looking like my aesthetic and not like I’m catering to anyone else.

You have one board dedicated to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Is she your style icon? What do you admire her most about?
She is definitely my go-to source for outfit inspiration. I think my favorite thing about her is that she’s great at looking both put-together and laid-back at the same time. That’s not always easy to do. I think our outfit essentials are the same. Things like leather pants, wide brim hats, and boots. It’s sort of bohemian, but not too literal. It’s a look that’s a bit cleaner, more minimal. My favorite kinds of outfits are ones that ride the line between feminine and boyish, like mixing lace tops with leather pants and boots, Rosie’s so great at that.

Is there a story behind your senior project American Landscape?
At my college, O’More College of Design, we have to present a collection as our senior project. The concept you pick is extremely important, as it needs to sum you up as a designer. I’m pretty conceptual so I usually end up telling some kind of story with the work that I do. I created my “American Landscape” board based off of a series of conversations I had with my dad, who lives in England. Last summer while visiting, I was frustrated about not coming up with my collection’s concept yet, so we went for a walk. I couldn’t believe that I was in Europe, yet I wasn’t being hit by inspiration – it seemed like such a waste! This led to us discussing how sometimes we can get it into our heads and think that we have to travel far to find inspiration – when really, inspiration was in your backyard the whole time. I loved this idea, so I decided to base my collection off of this concept of “home” and what my “backyard” looks like.

How does Pinterest play a part in your designs? Do you use it to find inspirations? Has it helped expose your designs?
Pinterest was monumental in helping me find inspiration for my designs. As I mentioned earlier, I use it for just about every project that I do. It’s much easier than trying to Google search for images – that becomes exhausting! Even blogs can be somewhat limiting when I’m looking for inspiration.
So far, Pinterest has been great for just getting my aesthetic out there. I haven’t used it yet for showcasing designs because I want to be very careful about how I present them. Introducing my work to nearly five million followers is exciting, but also intimidating. I want to make sure I do it right!

How would you describe your style? Is it aesthetically different from your designs or do you design based on how you dress?
My style tends to evolve, sometimes from one season to the next! I think I’ll always be a bit girly, but I usually introduce a new element to my look to mix it up. Right now I’m big on pairing menswear inspired pieces with feminine ones. I can’t just wear a dress; I have to pair it with heavy boots and a leather jacket. Otherwise it seems too girly! I definitely design with the same mentality. I will mix two styles to come up with something more complex. It helps keep things from looking generic.

Besides pinning and designing clothes, what do you do during your spare time?
I spend a lot of time working with technology, whether I’m on my laptop, phone, or shooting with my camera. So, during my down time I like to take a break and do something outdoorsy. Tennessee is so incredibly beautiful that I could spend all day outside! Any free time I have, I want to spend hiking in the woods or canoeing in the river. My beagle puppy, Banjo, always comes along! It’s great to remove myself from work and get my mind moving in a polar opposite direction.

If you weren’t designing clothes, what would you want to be doing?
That’s a tough question because it really is what I’ve always wanted to do! If I did anything else I think it would be something to do with nutrition. I fully believe that food is medicine. In my down time I’ll research the benefits of eating certain foods and natural remedies to certain symptoms. By no means am I 100 per cent organic and healthy all of the time! I believe in balance. Most of my meals are healthy so I don’t feel guilty indulging in things like ice cream once in a while. I’m so grateful that my parents instilled in me the “you are what you eat” mentality. It’s something I would wish to share with more people.

Are there any sites you find yourself drawn to for Pinterest inspiration?
There are certain blogs that I check with every week. For outfit inspiration, blogs like Song of Style and Sincerely, Jules are great. I love following them on Instagram too. For home inspiration I usually check in with Lonny Magazine, they’re incredible and so diverse.

Now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?
I’m excited about some projects I have in the works! I plan on launching a lifestyle, travel and style blog that will be coming out soon! It will definitely embody my aesthetic on Pinterest. Pinterest has shown me the types images and stories I want to share with my followers. I think blogging is the most natural transition from pinning; the two of them just go hand in hand. I enjoy sharing what I love with my followers. Now I want to share with them what I do, what I wear, and where I go!

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