Lauren Conrad
Steve Erle

Lauren Conrad is known for her impeccable style, her entrepreneurial nature, and her all-around likeability. She’s an accomplished designer, a New York Times best-selling author, and a whiz in the kitchen  — but in addition, she’s got a heart of gold (not that it comes as a surprise). Conrad, who runs her site The Little Market with her best friend Hannah, is helping to empower women by curating a selection of fair trade goods from artisan groups in developing countries around the world. We chatted with the star about her favorite finds, her ideal Valentine’s Day outfit, and how, oh how, she takes such gorgeous ‘grams.

What inspired you to create The Little Market?
I created it with one of my best friends, Hannah. We’ve been travel buddies for a really long time, and she’s worked with Human Rights Watch for years, so whenever I travel with her, it’s not just seeing new places. She’s very good about educating me on the different challenges they face there, so I was learning more and more. We originally came up with the concept from a trip to Africa, probably a year and a half ago. We knew we wanted to do a project that would focus on either women or children, and so it was on that trip that we came up with the idea. The concept is that we work with artisans all over the world, and we focus on women and we focus on areas where women face bigger challenges.

What’s one of the coolest places you’ve been on your travels?
We went to India this past year, and it was amazing. It was really cool. We spent two weeks over there, and traveled all over.

What’s one of the greatest items that has crossed your path so far that’s featured in Little Market?
One of my personal favorites are these really beautiful trunks. I think I have six of them in my home! I stack them, and I use them for storage, but they’re just so beautiful.

Tell me a little bit about this Valentine’s Day bear (pictured, left).
They’re from a group in Peru, and it’s kind of an alpaca—and they’re all handmade. We worked with them to design a little boy and a little girl bear ($26), and we’re working with V-Day—they work to end violence (against) women and children all over the world. So, 100 percent of the proceeds of the bears go toward V-Day.

What’s the secret to choosing a great Valentine’s Day gift?
Valentine’s Day is tricky. I think I tend to go with flowers and sweets with everyone, just because I love receiving those! Also, I think a nice handwritten card is really sweet. Everyone likes to receive a Valentine.

What’s your idea of a great Valentine’s Day outfit? 
I like to go pink or red just because it’s Valentine’s Day. I think it depends on where you’re going. If you’re going to a nice dinner, I think you can have a little fun; you can bring out a conversational print or that bright red dress.

We here at InStyle are obsessed with your gorgeous Instagram photos, but we hear that you’re keeping your filter a secret. True?
Yeah, I don’t tell anybody! I use another app and then I use filters. And I don’t actually use the same one all the time because it tends to look the same. There are three or four that I use. People always ask me that, and I’m like, ‘I feel like I should keep this secret to myself.’ It’s like a secret cookie recipe. It’s really not that hard to do. I bet people can figure it out.

Want more Lauren Conrad? See all of her best looks ever in our gallery! 

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