Creative Lifestyle Brand Founder Lauren Miller uses her passport to inspire global exploration
Recent Itinerary: A Thursday night spent flying out from Atlanta’s international airport bound for San Francisco to visit a client and secure some business development. Jetting down to Los Angeles before the weekend is over for a photo shoot and speaking engagement, followed by a flight to Atlanta for a panel discussion by Wednesday and finally, completing a video shoot on Thursday.
Travel Attire: Modest makeup with an edgy leather jacket, cut-out jeans, steel-toed black leather boots and a trendy black travel bag.
Mindset: “Be intentional. Have vision. Surround yourself with people who support that vision and/or are headed in the same direction.”
Lifestyle brand and travel maven Lauren Miller has the mindset of a warrior and the insight of a courageous eagle. She has championed building the empire of Can’t Stay Put after quitting a secure full-time job in sunny Southern California.
“Can’t Stay Put came about from what I would consider a quarter-life crisis. In the 25th year of my life, something clicked within me that said I can’t just exist anymore. At the time, I was working as an event and marketing manager in California. I was making good money and from the outside, it may have seemed like there was nothing to really complain about. But I wasn’t complaining--I just knew that this was not what God put me on this earth to do. And I was ready to start that journey!”
So Lauren asked God to reveal to her what her purpose is and she promised to run 100 miles toward it.
When she got back to the Bay Area from her 25th birthday celebration (an excursion to Maui, Hawaii), she immediately put in her notice to quit. She recalls this act as her signal to the universe, claiming that she was ready for something new in life. Yet when she quit her job, she still had no clue what she wanted to do next. Soon she booked a $250 roundtrip ticket to Maui again. But instead of a celebration in mind, she positioned it as a five-day transition trip. She didn’t set any expectations. It was a means to support herself while she tried to figure out what to do with her life.
“I was doing a lot of meditation and praying. I remember one day, I was in this bamboo forest and felt like I heard God speaking to me. He kept saying, ‘Lauren, you need to figure out how to do this!’ To me, that meant I needed to figure out how to inspire people through my experiences.”
As she sat in this forest, reflecting on her past, she realized that it was no coincidence that she started flying by herself at the age of five. Her mother lived in D.C. and her father raised her in Atlanta. She was always flying to see either of her parents and has never known a life without travel. Her parents promoted a life of fearlessness as both were well-traveled executives in business and politics. Because of that, she was exposed to international travel and a lot of experiences that the average child did not get to experience.
“I almost felt a sense of guilt throughout my life because I realized that most of my friends or people that I know have not and probably would not ever get to experience this. So at that moment, it hit me. I needed to figure out a way to use my experiences in order to help people.”
She didn’t know how she was going to do it or what business model to set up. She just knew she had a life of privileges and wanted to help other people experience the same things she did. Her mission: To inspire people to dream up the life of traveling. Her title: Inspirational Explorer.
After returning to L.A., Lauren went to church and the pastor walked up to her and said, “Lauren, you have to sacrifice for your amazing.” So she thought, “Yes! I’m ready for my amazing!”
She immediately broke her lease, moved out of her apartment, and stored all of her belongings at friends’ houses. It had only been three days since she met with her pastor. Within the same weekend, she ran into a life coach who spoke to her about how to move forward with her mission. He reminded her that she had been living her purpose her entire life. All she needed was a platform to share her story. It was time to brand herself and create her own lane. As a business and marketing student graduating from Howard University, she knew exactly what that meant.
She bought the domain name for her business that very night and Can’t Stay Put was born, a name that she adopted from her friends because she was always hitting the road.
The first official Can’t Stay Put trip was planned for January 2013 to Southeast Asia. Lauren’s diligence with her newfound mission left her no choice but to remain optimistic, despite having so many unanswered questions. Upon deciding where to travel, she drafted up a proposal to send to her networks to invest in her business development and her travel plans. A lot of people denied her, shunning her ambitions as a mere response to a life crisis. She admits that she didn’t have all of the answers, but she knew that she had to do whatever it took to launch her business. Luckily, one person understood her vision clearly, supporting Lauren with $2,500 toward her first trip. Eventually, she raised $8,000 and took a childhood friend and photographer with her to Southeast Asia for a month.
You may wonder, “How is she gonna keep this up?” Funding her passion project took even more courage to take on odd jobs, consulting and temporary employment in order to build her brand. Every dollar she raised went back into building her business into a lifestyle brand.
“As Can’t Stay Put started to evolve into a lifestyle brand, people started hitting me up about how to help them live the life that they wanted, versus actually traveling,” Lauren reveals. “I realized that I use travel as a means to inspire, but this is not always about teaching people how to travel. When I first started, I didn’t know what my angle was or what my niche was. I just knew that I needed to be engulfed in this energy and my purpose lied in aspects of traveling.”
Eventually, her brand had to shift gears in order for Lauren to seek out a long-term plan for her vision. While she was able to travel for weeks at a time, curating a lush timeline of curated images of her getaways (check her out on Instagram via @CantStayPut with over 14,800 followers), she admits that the lifestyle she chose came with some sacrifice. She experienced a loss of privacy having to live couch to couch, with no place to call her own.
“I spent four years with zero privacy. There was never a time, unless I plugged in some earphones, when I could hear myself think. I have to anchor myself now so that I can soar even more. I have to root myself so that I can take this to the next level. So that’s the transition that I’m in right now.”
“The journey of creating a life that’s not like most people’s lives is very lonely. It’s easy to do what everybody else is doing,” she explains. “But if you go against the grain, people don’t understand why or understand your lifestyle. But it’s your vision and nobody can be as invested in this as much as you can. So there are going to be times when you have to be by yourself.”
Soon, her business will turn four years old as Lauren takes on the endeavor to invest in the future of Can’t Stay Put by ironically slowing down.
Lauren progresses her vision from #FoundertoCEO, revealing her journey in a very transparent way through social media. She makes every effort to find ways to incorporate her creativity and talents with this growing lifestyle brand, comparing her business growth to the Virgin or Martha Stewart brands. The potential for Lauren to expand her empire is great and she has plenty of ambition to fuel it.
She spends her time lately branching out her business through four categories of Education, Experience, Empowerment and Enterprise. Whether she takes on a speaking engagement, rallying youth to set out for the life that they want, or collaborating with another brand to evolve the Can’t Stay Put mission, Lauren makes an effort to encourage everyone to fulfill their passion and purpose in life.
If you want to stay inspired and keep up with Lauren’s progress, follow her on Instagram @CantStayPut and online at www.cantstayput.com.