The small empire of Chapman University alumna Lauren Miller Hernandez ’06 launched in Old Towne Orange six years ago is celebrating its anniversary this month, and still growing.
Laurenly, a women’s clothing and jewelry boutique in a tiny Glassell Street shop adorned with chandeliers, opened in June 2010. The second Laurenly opened in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore neighborhood in 2013. And in 2014, laurenly.com opened online.
This year, Hernandez plans to start her own clothing line with a few designs to sell in her stores and perhaps in other boutiques, as well as work to grow her e-commerce business.
“So with the girls who graduate or move on or go back home or move somewhere for a job, I think that’s a great way to build our online store,” she said.
The daughter of two entrepreneurs – her father is in the meat industry and her mother opened a deli – Hernandez always knew she would start her own business. After earning a degree in advertising and public relations at Chapman, she worked in the fashion industry in Los Angeles and New York, where she earned a degree in fashion design at Parsons the New School for Design.
Hernandez searched in Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and other beach cities for the right spot for her first location. Then she stumbled upon the place she knew best all along.
“I loved the school, the community,” she said. “And after looking around at different areas in Southern California, I came back here to visit my brother [Landon Miller ‘12] who was at Chapman at the time and it just hit me all at once, oh my gosh, I should put it here. Why didn’t I think about that before?”
Hernandez found a home for her store. Then she found love, three doors down. She married Michael Hernandez, owner of Smoqued California Barbeque, six months ago.
“I’m living in Orange now, and I see myself being here for the long haul,” she said. “It’ll probably be the smallest store always, but it will always be my first little baby. My heart is here.”
Photos by Lia Hanson ’18.