Do it yourself. For Canadian-born, L.A.-based content creator, podcaster and Craftopia TV host Lauren Riihimaki, it’s not just a buzz phrase. Also known as LaurDIY, the 28-year-old has run one of You Tube’s top channels for over 8 years now, showcasing her energy, humor, and inventive, handmade projects. It’s led to partnerships with brands such as Disney, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks, and earned her a Streamy Award for Best Lifestyle Channel. From apparel and accessories to stationery and jewelry (available at Target and Walmart) Riihimaki has made her mark, and merchandised it too, one glitter gluestick at a time.
Last year, the craft queen expanded her profile as host and executive producer of HBO Max’s colorful crafting contest for kids. Now in its second season (which just debuted on Oct. 7) the show has moved on to adult “craftestants” going head to head, and hand to hand, conceiving and building everything from wigs and dog costumes to prosthetics and pumpkins, just in time for Halloween (you can watch all four episodes now). The show will return on Nov. 18 with four more episodes themed for the holidays and Christmas.
If she wasn’t busy enough with the show, Riihimaki has also naturally progressed into podcasting with Wild ‘Til 9 (with boyfriend Jeremy Lewis), a top-rated comedy pod that was a hit pretty much immediately thanks to her loyal following. So what is the secret to this creative queen’s success? She spills the beads with LA Weekly here.
LA WEEKLY: What first inspired you to start crafting?
LAUREN RIIKIMAKI: I was desperately looking for a creative outlet in my freshman year of university. I’ve been crafty from as early on as I can remember and have always found joy in creating something entirely custom. Sports and different hobbies have come and gone throughout my life, but creating in some form or another has stayed consistent. I started a DIY channel to escape the mundane schoolwork I faced and definitely did not expect to find an audience to the extent that I have.
What are your favorite things to make?
Multi-media artwork is top of my list right now. I go through phases of different interests in the DIY space, but being able to combine different mediums onto one canvas has been a freeing process of creation. Beaded bracelets and phone charms that have a “2000’s aesthetic” have been making a huge comeback, so that’s been a fun nostalgic DIY project I’ve also enjoyed.
What do you recommend to fans who might not be crafty but want to make stuff?
There are no rules to crafting! The best part about DIY and creating is that there isn’t a how-to guide on how to build/paint/sew/create something perfect. “Perfect” can be whatever you want it to be and that’s the beauty of literally doing it yourself. I find that new crafters put a lot of pressure on themselves to make picture-perfect Pinterest art. Opt for starting small (or go big, it’s your project!), find some inspiration and go with the flow. You can have as much or as little of a plan as you’d like.
Tell us about your life in L.A. and how affects your outlook on life and your creations?
I love LA. Similar to Toronto, I find that LA has different pockets of culture and community within the city. The diversity that this creates has always made me feel like there’s room to grow and that I’ll always have the freedom to be entirely myself. Inspiration is everywhere and people from all walks of life come to this city to blossom. I think that translates to any kind of creative process as your exposure to new experiences continues to grow.
How did you translate your love of creating into a successful business in terms of the podcast and your licensing empire?
Licensing was a no brainer in terms of finding collaborative partners to expand the capabilities of what the brand could grow into. I had incredible partners like Mattel that helped land in-store placement in Targets and Walmart Canada’s across North America and it was a powerful joining of forces. The podcast is a new creative endeavor that I started with my co-host Jeremy Lewis to have authentic and raw, long form conversations. My content has been consistently focused around creativity, while pivoting the target age demographic, and a podcast on more mature topics made sense as a next step. It’s an extension of my brand on a new platform that allows for new content and conversation opportunities.
What’s it like having an HBO Max show?
Hosting and executive producing an HBO Max show is truly an unmatched level of excitement. I think a platform like HBO Max is an exciting opportunity for digital creators like myself and the powerhouses of traditional media giants like Warner, to come together for a new content experience. The production process has been a whirlwind of fast paced fun and learning, and it’s interesting to revel in the differences of how content comes together. I’m privileged to have landed a production team that recognizes and capitalizes on the expertise I have around DIY and the digital space.
What can viewers expect as the show evolves with adult competitors?
Higher stakes, bigger projects and a sassier cast! The contestants have DIY/craft backgrounds that have landed them in highly coveted expert jobs in their industries. They craft and create professionally and we’re tasking them with some extreme and extraordinary challenges. It’s also a lot easier to give ~productive feedback with a little sass~ to a 35 year old versus a 13 year old. It’s wildly inspiring and a whole lot of fun.
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