Lauren Chan Is Focusing on What She Loves, Creating Work-Life Balance and Feeding Her Passions

The 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie, former magazine editor, model and fashion entrepreneur is the definition of a multihyphenate.
Lauren Chan.

Lauren Chan.

Lauren Chan lives by the idea that your work should serve you—and not the other way around. The 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie, who was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic for this year’s magazine, has worn several hats and pivoted through multiple careers that all aligned with the same goal.

The model was a plus-size fashion writer before entering a lead role as an editor at Glamour magazine. She launched her luxury clothing brand Henning, catered to sizes 12 to 26, in 2018, and the company was acquired by Universal Standard this spring.

“While [my previous roles] seem quite different on paper, they have all evolved into one another and they have all made sense to me because they have all fed the same goal,” Chan explains. “And that goal is to make folks who have felt left out of fashion—and therefore our culture—feel included and capable and powerful.”

She adds that she doesn’t know exactly what her future career will look like, or if it will even be a drastic change, but one thing’s for sure—Chan will continue to fuel her passions.

“I don’t know what roles I will hold next, and after that and after that, but I do know that they will follow that same North star,” the Canada native says. “I think that’s how I make sense of my career evolution.”

Lauren Chan Questions

Time management, prioritization and finding balance

Throughout her career, Chan has constantly reminded herself that no situation is permanent, and she is in control of her own life.

“[That mindset] has helped me get through months and years straight of hustle, and then also be able to fully relax when I’m in a time where I don’t need to work as hard,” she shares. “I think that the old me tended to feel when I was working 12-hour days and going from meeting to office to event and doing it all again the next day, that that was going to be forever, and that can get really heavy.”

Chan adds that she would tell her younger self, or anyone looking to pursue multiple passions, to “really go for the things that you have a true passion for because that is what will keep you going when the days are long and when the work is hard and you have to put your blood, sweat and tears on the table.”

She’s open about the fact that there is not always a strategy, it’s just “f------ hard work.” There have been points in her career where she hasn’t had the luxury of deciding when her day ends. But now, on the other side of the journalism and corporate industries, she has a few intentional practices that are solely for her mental health and personal peace.

Setting boundaries

The New York City resident explains that she does her best to not think about work or start it before 9:30 a.m., and if she can help it, ends around 4:30 p.m.

“Just taking that little bit of time back in the morning to walk the dog, have a coffee, get up slowly and not in a rushed way, and in the afternoon, still get some sunshine, walk the dog again, have a breath of fresh air before I start cleaning or making dinner or working out really helps me,” Chan explains.

She adds that she has learned to rely on team members and colleagues, and know that “not everything has to be perfect, or the exact way that I might have done it.”

Focusing on modeling

Chan, who serves as the head of brand partnerships at Universal Standard, is in her modeling era right now. She just wrapped up an iconic New York Fashion Week and attended events with Proenza Schouler, Instagram and Lacoste, and walked the runway for Christian Siriano’s 15th anniversary show.

“I’m in a role right now where it’s just not as urgent as running a business or being a journalist. I’m in a season of my life [where] I’m really relishing in the non-urgency of my job,” she notes. “I will genuinely follow a prioritization of tasks where if something’s not on fire at the moment, I will handle it in a few hours or a few days, or when the time comes for it to be urgent.”

Chan mentions that the healthy practices she has picked up over the years is a “reflection” of the peaceful mindset she is in, and proof that she has found a better work-life balance—which was a longtime goal.

“Since Henning was acquired, I am relishing not being in charge of everything. When you run a business, you are everything from the intern to the CEO and everything is your problem to fix,” she continues. “I think that being in this chapter where I’m focusing on modeling and podcasting and broadcast, I am enjoying the parts of work that I like the best, like speaking and connecting and social [media] and the art of fashion. Running a business is very tiring, so I’m happy to be a cog in the wheel in a lot of ways.”

Recognizing when it’s time to pivot

Chan says everything sort of fell into (or out of) place when she left her role as an editor—it was a leap of faith, for sure, but it was a decision that made a lot of sense at the time.

“We can get so heads down in this insanely intense hustle culture that we don’t take time to pull the camera back and recognize what’s going on around us—whether that’s what’s happening in the market, what’s happening within your specific company, what’s happening on your team and what’s happening with yourself,” she shares. “So when, for example, I left my job as a magazine editor, I used to joke that the universe was basically hitting me upside the head by the end by all [the] signs that it was time to go.”

Besides her company and industry rapidly changing, Chan also felt like she had personally “experienced all the growth” she could have and “truly every sign was pointing towards the next chapter.”

What’s next

When Chan was asked about what her next move or career pivot could be at the time of the magazine’s launch, she had no idea and she liked it that way.

“I [was] trying to be present and for once in my life, not have my next goal or move written across my mirror, so to speak. Now that we’re a few months out from that… I can say that didn’t last long,” she says. “I’m working on projects like podcasting and TV and in-person events and ambassadorships. Most of the things I’m excited about these days are conversation and connection based.”

The former fashion features editor describes her next chapter as a “semi” return to her journalism roots with lots of interviewing, reporting and getting a chance to flex the muscles she strengthened in and out of various newsrooms.

Her year as an SI Swimsuit rookie

As she wraps up a fabulous and history-making rookie year with SI Swimsuit—Chan came out to the world as gay through a personal essay along with her magazine debut—she reflects on some of the defining moments of her start with the brand.

“The whole experience has been incredible,” Chan gushes. “I really just can’t believe I got to be around so many game-changing people—from the people who run the institution to the people who are featured in it and the people who have showed up to the events. We’re all in support of the same mission and [SI Swimsuit] is one of the most impactful institutions in our culture and it just feels like magic to be included. A highlight for me for sure was going on stage with Kim Petras in Miami. Of course, my shoot was the most memorable experience of it all. I really loved the Swim Week runway as well, specifically the finale where we all got to walk together and dance and celebrate the roster as one.”

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach.

What is a quote that you live by?

“What makes you different makes you great.”

What’s your favorite thing to do to escape from work?

“Get a massage.”

What is a book that dramatically changed your perspective?

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza or Untamed by Glennon Doyle.”

What’s your current hype song?

“‘Speed Drive’ by Charli XCX from the Barbie movie.”

What is a podcast you have been loving recently?

Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

What’s your favorite everyday purse?

“Right now I’m using my vintage Guess purse from high school.”

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.