An accident changed her life, but she didn’t let it stop her and I’ll tell ya: there is SO much more to her story. While a part of her story comes from a scary place and she managed to turn her mess into her message. My friend, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy is a staple in fashion. She spent time interning in wardrobe for the CW’s Gossip Girl, the Michael Kors showroom, and reporting for New York, Paris, and Montreal Fashion Weeks. She’s published two books and along with Bethany Hamilton launched a yearly retreat for girls who have lost a limb. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, she has a foundation, a dry shampoo line, and a booming blog.
Lauren and I are talking ALL the things: her accident, how she pressed onward, what it is *really* like having such a deeply personal brand, why she is so committed to giving back, how she juggles it all and how YOU can learn from her!
She interned on CW’s Gossip Girl, and at the Michael Kor’s showroom, and then Lauren reported for Fashion Week in New York, Paris and Milan for several years, bringing news of trends and upcoming styles to her audience before fashion blogging was a big thing. She launched her own online magazine called Lolo, and it was starting to gain traction, just four months before the accident changed her world. Lauren was hit by a plane propeller, and as a result she lost her left hand and left eye, and injured her head. The accident came just as her life and her business was reaching an exciting time… But she put everything on pause. She stepped back from everything career related and took time to heal, recover, and reflect.
Lauren’s accident became national news. Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! and others covered the story, and through all the press Giuliana Rancic reached out to Lauren. G, as Lauren calls her, shared her own health journey and wanted Lauren to know that her dreams and her future weren’t over, that there was so much life ahead of her despite the accident. At the time, Giuliana was hosting on E! with Jason Kennedy and introduced him to Lauren… And the two clearly hit it off because now they’re married!
Through healing and reflecting, Lauren begin to find her path and purpose post accident. It seems as if she hasn’t slowed down since — Just one month after her accident, she met Bethany Hamilton, who famously survived a shark attack but lost an arm. The pair bonded and eventually went on to found a retreat called Beautifully Flawed for girls who have lost limbs. Starting the retreat opened her eyes to the struggles of prosthetics and dealing with insurance, which lead to the start of the Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation. To only add to her long list of accomplishments, she created a dry shampoo line with her best friend AND rebranded and relaunched her blog.
Coping with Tragedy in the Public Eye
The story of Lauren’s accident went national the very same night it happened. While her parents were wrapped up in taking care of Lauren and making the right decisions for surgery and coping with the shock of the accident, they were also facing a wave of media attention as well as letters, gifts, and prayers from people all over the world. After recovering in the hospital for three weeks, and after resuming normal life after her long recovery, strangers would approach her and talk to her about the accident. Lauren’s parents finally told her about the national media coverage and slowly showed her the interviews and videos.
Lauren felt she didn’t have the capacity to deal with the national attention her story received because she was still processing what had happened. Paparazzi flew to Dallas to take her pictures outside of the rehab and training facility. She realized through all of the attention that the accident happened for a reason, and she had a responsibility to share her story to bring other people hope.
The piece of wisdom that helped her the most at the beginning was that she could just be herself. Everyday tasks took her much longer, and she was experiencing new feelings and emotions she had never felt before, but she could just be herself and share her story, knowing people would relate to her story and it would impact them in a positive way.
Protecting herself in the public eye was a learning experience for Lauren. Saying no and setting boundaries wasn’t a natural gift. Growing up in an open, vulnerable family she was so used to sharing everything about herself, but she’s learned how to keep what she wants private between herself and the people who she loves.
She learned to say “no” the hard way, by overcommitting herself to events, appearances, speaking engagements and other opportunities after her accident and for her book release. Learning how and when to say no comes with time. For me, I’m quicker to recommend that you say no A LOT to protect your energy and protect your “yes”. You know the feeling when you see that event on your calendar, the one you quickly said yes to, but you’re dreading the day? That’s how I, and Lauren, learned that saying “no” is an important step to protecting yourself. Don’t fear missing out. Don’t fear losing out on that one big break. Maybe the big break you need is a weekend at home with your spouse…
Launching Her Dry Shampoo
When her best friend and roommate Anna came home one morning telling stories of her brunette friends who didn’t have a dry shampoo option, the pair thought they might have an idea for a new product. Lauren and her roommate started ordering products, doing the research, and experimenting on Lauren’s twin sister (who has brunette hair). The process was not without many stop-and-go moments when they’d reach a point where they didn’t know what to do next.
It wasn’t until Lauren had a conversation with a woman who created her own spray tan product (while she was getting an at-home spray tan) that they realized their next step — They needed a manufacturer! From there, Lauren and Anna found a branding expert, they researched trademarking, the legal requirements for creating a beauty product… So much research. Now four years into the process, Lauren and Anna launched Stranded, their dry shampoo powder line with three hair colors.
The Big Takeaway
One theme keeps resurfacing with Lauren: Never stop learning and pursue constant refinement. When you’ve reached the launch point of your product or business, it feels like you should be done, right? But you’re never really done. There are new things to learn and new projects to complete, but that makes it exciting. Lauren loves learning through creating with her business, her retreat for girls, and her foundation.
There’s More to Her Story
In this episode, Lauren shares the heart of her mission to give hope to those going through similar personal tragedies, and the knowledge she gained navigating the world of insurance and prosthetics after her accident. She talks about starting the Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation and creating a retreat with Bethany Hamilton. Lauren is also super open and candid as she gushes about her hubby, Jason Kennedy, and what they’re working on together that I’m super excited to learn more about. You gotta tune in to hear the full story.
What She’s Up to Now
Lauren’s new blog has evolved to feature the things most important to her right now — wellness and self-care. After struggling with persistent bloat since high school, and experiencing extreme fatigue after her accident, Lauren studied ways to improve her overall health. You can find her healthy living tips, toxin-free product recommendations and more at laurenscruggskennedy.com. Keep an eye out for Lauren’s new project called The Clean Sweep, a three month subscription to help you clean up your life with tons of support, encouragement, supplies, and guides to help you on your way.
As sweet, kind, and smart as she is beautiful, I loved spending time with Lauren for today’s episode and learning about the reflection and recovery that came after the tragic accident that could have derailed her future. Not Lauren though… She is using all of her experiences, the special and the scary, so give hope to others dealing with their own personal tragedies, all while running a business and living in a state of constant refinement and endless learning.
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Photo Credit: Felicia Lasala