Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Lauren McMillan

This week we chat with Lauren McMillan who is not only a full-time nurse at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, she also has the time to run her own jewellery line, Lauren Elan Collections. Say hello to Lauren everybody!

How did you get interested in jewellery and how did you get your own line off the ground?

I’ve always been obsessed with jewellery. It’s such a great item to pick up when travelling, or receive as a gift as each piece can tell a story, and have great significance. I never set out to start a jewellery line, or company for that matter (as I obviously have my hands full working full time at SickKids as a nurse). When I sustained a major knee injury and was forced to take a long time off work, I found myself keeping busy creating pieces for friends and family, and personal events.

The evolution into an online boutique felt pretty natural as I had people asking me to create custom pieces fairly frequently and figured I may as well set up a venue. It was a great way to turn a negative into a positive. From there I suppose it grew organically as I took each new challenge as it came and the next thing I knew I had orders coming in from across the world. The internet is a wonderful place!
Where are your pieces sold?

I mostly sell from our online boutique as this allows me to sell both locally and Internationally. Select items from our line are also carried in a few boutiques throughout North America, as well as a small amount in International locations. In Toronto, I work closely with Paige Boersma of Bicyclette Boutique (880 Queen West) to keep a good stock of items at her shop.

Who do you draw style inspiration from?

There are so many amazing sources of fashion inspiration these days both online and on the street. Between a magnitude of fabulous fashion blogs, Instagram and pinterest images, as well as seeing people on the street in Toronto... I’m sure to get a daily fix of fashion eye candy.

You're also a nurse at Sick Kids!  What made you choose nursing?

I was really interested in science and biology in high school and was eager to study in a field that would give me an opportunity to learn more. Nursing has been a great job for me; I love the opportunity to give back to my community, and there is a constant need in this profession to learn the latest information and be challenged by new scenarios and situations. My mom is also a nurse, and I feel that the medical knowledge she has (and I now have) is something so valuable to have as you go through life. Funny enough, the skills I’ve learned through nursing such as self-direction, problem solving, strong communication, and prioritizing, have translated directly into skills that I use everyday in business.
What department do you work in?  Is it hard to see children who are sick everyday?

I work on a post-surgical floor where we care for kids that have a range of common childhood issues from broken bones to tonsillectomies. Most often we see the transition from post-surgery grogginess to walking out the door happy to go home. It’s actually a really fun place as the team I work with is super positive and energetic, and we do our best to cheer the kids up and keep the families involved and informed.

How do you balance nursing and your jewellery line?

Nursing is the perfect profession to be in if you don’t want to be working all week long. My schedule is pretty flexible with 12 hour shifts that I can group together, giving me about 2-3 days in the studio each week. So far it’s been pretty hectic, but I’ve just taken on 2 interns (who are amazing) and will soon give me 2-3 days off per week since we get the work done faster. I guess I will see how long I can keep both up for. For now, I love them both enough that I don’t want to give either up!

What is your typical day like?

There is definitely no typical day. A weekday can range from wearing scrubs and working 12 hours, to wearing a fun outfit and an armparty while visiting various suppliers. When I’m not at the hospital, I’m at our Queen West studio answering emails, designing new pieces, and mostly filling online orders.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in Toronto? 

I live in the King West area and am constantly finding great spots to visit in our own hood. For coffee - always Jimmy’s Coffee (the best americano in the city if you ask me); Bar Wellington for a great brunch and awesome service; Le Select Bistro for a lovely dinner with my hubbie; and Blowfish, Thompson rooftop, or our kitchen and/or outdoor terrace if hanging with girlfriends. 

Favourites places to find great clothes?

I can’t stand malls, and rarely have time to go shopping, so I usually find myself shopping online (The Outnet, Net-a-Porter, eBay, and ShopBop are favourites), when on vacation, or at boutiques on Queen West coming and going from work.
Where would you go on your dream vacation?

My husband and I went to Maui on our honeymoon and it was as close to paradise as I can imagine. I’m a bit of a travel junkie, so I’ve gone to most of my dream spots... but next on the wishlist would be either Iceland, New Zealand, or Peru.

What did you study in College/University? Is there anything you would do differently or advise others about?

I completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Although most people would tell you to get a job in a field that you love, I went to school for something that would guarantee me a job. That way I would have the income to support myself, and then fill my free time with hobbies and experiences that I love. I guess it worked out as I was able to build things from the ground up (with a ton of hard work) into a business.

What would you tell your 20 year-old self?

You will have plenty of time later in life to be tied down to a house or a job. Get outside, experience life, have fun, meet new people, travel the world, and you’ll be better off for it. 

What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?

Throw yourself into experiences and situations that force you to be challenged and questioned. I think that those are the opportunities that you really learn your interests, limitations, and passions. Take a random specialty class, get your hands dirty, travel to a place that isn’t familiar, ask questions, if it’s mildly uncomfortable, and you leave feeling like you tackled something new, you will definitely have gained from the experience :)

Tweet: @lauren_elan
Facebook: Lauren Elan Collections

Loved this? Meet a few of our other Hip + Urban Girls of the Week!


  1. I love the gold necklace and bracelet. I quickly looked at her website and she's got beautiful jewelry.

  2. You have totally inspiring me. I'm finishing my BScN in one year, but I'm also a fashion designer, I can't wait to go back to my first love. I also decided to become a Nurse, so I could secured a job. Great job! Your line is awesome!