YouTube Star LaurDIY on Building a Business From Scratch

LaurDIY "fell into YouTube kind of by accident" and three years later, she's one of the most popular content creators in Canada. Sound like a dream? Find out how her passion and personality made it happen


(Photo: LaurDIY)

Lauren Riihimaki is adorable, an adjective I don’t usually use for grown women, but in this case, it’s totally accurate. Not only is she small, sweet and bubbly, but the 21-year old St. Catharines, Ont. native is literally adored by millions of fans. Lauren, aka LaurDIY, is that newly minted type of stara wildly popular YouTube creator with over 2 million subscribers and 96 million views. Her specialty is DIY errrythang from clothes and accessories to beauty and decor. She vlogs about prom, back to school, her morning routine and even her breakup.  One more sign she’s big time? LaurDIY’s fans have a nickname: #prettylittlelaurs.

We sat down with Lauren on a sunny day (she was wearing a black strappy tank, jean cut-offs and a silver dangly choker necklace that she admitted she didn’t DIY, for once) to chat about her crafty beginnings and her Sparkle Shop partnership with Starbucks Canada.

Let’s start at the beginning. Were you born a craft-lover?
The running joke in my family is that LaurDIY has been a thing forever. I grew up an only child and I was always asking my parents, take me to the craft store, buy a craft kit, let’s do crafts!

What was your first foray into YouTube; what drew you to it as a medium?
I fell into YouTube kind of by accident. [In 2012] I started a blog, just as a creative outlet and break from university. I was doing DIY tutorials using photos and text blurbs on a WordPress website and eventually I was like, Oh, I should use video as a medium to show what I’m doing. It would be more interactive and make it easier to see what’s going on. I didn’t realize YouTube was a platform where you had subscribers and people posted weekly content. I was only using it to post a video and then embed the URL into my blog! So I eventually realized that you can monetize your content and post weekly content and I made the transition [away from blogging].


(Photo: LaurDIY)

Did you learn all the YouTube business stuff on your own?
It was definitely a learning curve. The YouTube community in Toronto is pretty small, I didn’t even meet another Toronto YouTuber until a year and a half in. So everything was just me learning by myself for the longest time.

When did you realize, Oh wow, this is becoming big? Do you remember a moment?
When you hit your first 1000, your first 25,000, 50,000, 100,000, you just like, How far is this going to go? This is crazy! You think about 1000 people making a conscious decision to want to see your content, that’s an insane amount of people. I feel like every milestone, I’m like, Oh my God, this is so many people!

What was one of the first big videos that really took off?
One of my first three, actually. There was this shirt, it was a skull back shirt, I had wanted to make it and was looking for tutorials and there was nothing online. So, kind of strategically, I thought I would make this one of my better videos because I know people are searching for it so I want to try and fill that gap. That video’s still up and it’s really awkward and so bad! [Note: we disagree! See it below]

Walk me through making a video.
The video idea can come from anywhere, people requesting it or just seasonal stuff. Back to school is huge right now. The DIY I usually film by myself just on a tripod in my condo, and then I have a cinematographer who films the B-roll. [That’s the footage between steps, the background footage]. And then I do all the editing, producing, uploading, all that stuff. I do all my social media myself, too.

So this is your full-time job now?
Yes, I just graduated in April with a Bachelor of Technology from Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University.  YouTube is full-time hours when you’re making one video a week. And then full-time school on top of that, it’s about making priorities and figuring out how to time manage.


(Photo: LaurDIY)

Let’s talk about Starbucks and the Sparkle Shop Events. How did that happen?
Starbucks approached me and wanted to collaborate on celebrating the launch of two new drinks in Vancouver and Toronto, the Teavana Sparkling Tea Juices. We wanted to create a collaborative video, still very DIY-centric around glitter and sparkle tying to the bubbliness of the drinks. So I did some fun summer DIYs that tied it all together.

Do you have a favourite?
I do, it’s the Teavana Sparkling Tea Juice in Passion Tango + Pineapple. The red one!

Moving on to fashion: how would you describe your style?
Everyone tells me I dress like a California person, that’s always what I get. A little bit edgy, but also a little bit girly.

What’s on your fall shopping list?
For me, I always go back to the same things in fall: layering, leather moto jackets, flannels, boyfriend jeans, laced heeled booties, stuff like that. And beanies, too. I miss beanie season so much! I’m sick of this dry shampoo, where’s my beanie? [laughs]

Now that you’ve had a few months to be fully immersed in your channel, what’s next?
This is such a hard question to answer! I just want to keep making content that people want to see. It’s hard to know what’s coming next because you never know how things can change. And it can happen so fast.

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