In 2011, Lauren McPhillips became an instant beloved member of our Contiki family when she started in PR in our Toronto office. 5 years later and in her latest role as #girlboss, she’s continuing to kick ass and carve a name for herself in the blogging world – still in her classic black aesthetic – and we couldn’t be more proud of our girl.
At TRL she’s writing, she’s inspiring, and she’s continuing to slay our social feeds. Check out what she’s doing now, and how she paved her own way to the inspiration that is This Renegade Love:
In your own words, what do you do, and why do you do it?
I’m a writer and a photographer for my website This Renegade Love – it’s an online space that inspires readers with content on travel, career, style, wellness and giving back. I also profile ‘Renegades’ in the Toronto community – people who have quit their nine-to-five to start their own business, travel the world or start a charity program.
What are all of the components that comprise TRL?
The website (www.thisrenegadelove.com) is the heart of This Renegade Love because it’s where I share my writing (and sometimes rants), but Instagram is definitely the channel that gets me the most brand awareness – it’s also the social channel I spend the most time on. That being said, most of my social traffic comes from Facebook just because content is so easily shareable.
How did you make the decision to quit your job and go at it alone?
That was a tough one. I was living in the UK at the time, and even though I loved the people I worked with, I wasn’t happy with the role I had and the work I was doing. I really craved that creativity and my role didn’t really have that, so I quit – which, yes, was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
It was actually my boyfriend that convinced me to leave, because the thought of not having a full-time job terrified me. I was also worried what people would think, and felt a lot of pressure to make my site perfect, as though I had something to prove. You quickly get over those apprehensions though, and the amount of support I received from family, friends and old colleagues was incredible.
Tell us about the process of coming up with a name/ logo? What else did you consider?
Well, I worked on the branding with a designer from the States that I found through Pinterest – Angela from Saffron Avenue. It was a three-month collaborative process that included logo, web design and overall aesthetic, and I was thrilled with how it all turned out. I wanted the logo to be simple, but also something I wouldn’t get sick of in a few years’ time.
As for the name, I actually got it from a song! It’s called ‘Summertime’ by the band Rural Alberta Advantage, and it has a line that goes, “And when we’re middle-aged, you’ll tell me I loved you like a renegade”… and boom – the wheels started turning. I already knew what I wanted my site to be about (ordinary people doing extraordinary things), and that word ‘renegade’ just perfectly summed up my vision.
What’s your ideal workspace? Your bed? Starbucks?
I wish it was bed! I work from home and have a nice, inspiring little office space in my condo, but everyone needs a break sometimes. I’ll usually spend a few hours a day at a coffeeshop in Toronto just for a break in scenery (and to stay caffeinated).
Toronto also has these great rentable office spaces called ‘Breather’. They’re all around the city and you can rent them by the hour – super peaceful and beautiful spaces that just inspire creativity.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of TRL and Lauren.
Here’s one thing I quickly learned about this job – there’s no such thing as a typical day! So I’ll take you through my plans for tomorrow…
After waking up (and checking email – I’m such a slave to it and I hate that habit), I’ll either get my exercise out of the way or get straight into work-mode and tackle my inbox. Mid-morning I’m meeting up with a fellow blogger for coffee, then will plug into my headphones and do some writing over a latte (extra hot, always).
I have a lunch meeting with the PR team from Fairmont Hotels, after which I’ll head home to shoot a few photos for upcoming posts, then hail a cab to take me uptown to an event for Virgin America at night. Then it’s home for some couch time with my boyfriend with a glass of wine, and I’ll usually spend a little bit of time finishing off the day’s to-do list.
What are the best and worst things about being your own boss?
The best thing, by far, is the freedom – freedom of time, freedom of creativity, freedom of choice. If I want to launch a new column on my site, I do it. If I want to do a spin class mid-morning , I do it. And if I want to host a social media seminar, I just do it. There’s no red-tape, no hierarchy of approvals – I’m free to run my business however I choose.
That being said, the hardest thing (by far) is the self-doubt that comes hand-in-hand with being your own boss. When you start your own business, it’s just you. And so you get inside your head, make excuses for why things won’t work, and doubt your voice and vision. I’ve come to learn that if you let that self-doubt win, you’ll never propel forward and never see your brand grow (I still struggle with it, though).
What do you wish you’d known before you’d started TRL?
I wish that I would have known that running your own business is a balancing act. That there will be bad days. There will be days where you wonder why the hell you’re doing this, why you gave up a steady salary, why writer’s block is the worst possible curse for someone who makes a living off of writing and why it’s happening to you. But then those bad days are outweighed by the good – the days when you get reader e-mails saying how much your recent post spoke to them, the days when the words just flow out of you, the days when you meet new people who inspire you to grow and challenge your creativity. Trying to balance those days can drive you mad, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Who are your #girlboss icons?
Garance Dore is my girl crush/idol/muse every day. She’s like, the OG fashion blogger, but has a writing style unlike any other blogger out there – she speaks from the heart and it’s so incredibly genuine. I got the chance to interview her as a Renegade for my site when she did her book tour, and she is exactly the same in person as she presents herself online, which is what I aspire to be like as well.
Do you have any suggestions for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
If you’re looking to make a living from being a blogger or content creator, the most important thing is to be yourself – just have a distinct point of view and a unique way to tell your story. There are millions of other bloggers out there trying to do the same thing, so having an original and authentic voice and vision is what will set you apart from the rest.
Also, just be nice to people. This industry is small, and the last thing you want is to gain a reputation for being an entitled brat who’s difficult to work with.
What’s next for you/ TRL? What’s on your vision board?
So many things I want to do with TRL! I want to expand it to be a full lifestyle brand, offering everything that people might need to release their inner renegade – seminars, networking events, shirts + paper goods, web courses, you name it.
In the next year, I’m also planning to grow a branding studio alongside my blog – a consulting business that will help other bloggers and small business create their brand identity. Some people have fantastic ideas, but don’t know how to execute them as a ‘brand’ – aesthetic, tone-of-voice, marketing, PR – so the studio will give those fantastic ideas some direction.
And then, of course, travel as much as I can – exploring the world is my main source of creative inspiration!