Lauren Riihimaki

Canadian crafter Lauren Riihimaki has big aspirations to build an empire, and a new round of product launches over the next few months she’s calling the LaurDIYDrop should help with that.

The wave of licensed product releases begins later this month and continues into October to include apparel craft kits that come with paints, glitter and stencils; jewelry kits; stationery collections; athleisure done in collaboration with Montreal retailer Ardene; and a collaboration with accessories firm Pura Vida Bracelets. Distribution varies by product, but among the retail partners linked with some of the launches are Joann Fabric and Crafts, Michaels, Target, Hobby Lobby and Walmart Canada.

“I’ve really been trying to build a brand,” Riihimaki said. “I want this to be the Millennial Martha Stewart.”

The influencer, known to her more than 8 million YouTube followers (and more than 18 million fans across all her social media platforms) as LaurDIY, got her start simply looking for a creative outlet. She was in her first year of college in Toronto and began posting DIY tutorials on her own blog. She eventually made the decision to begin uploading video content to YouTube, joining the platform in late 2011, and things began taking off. Today, among her more recent tutorials, have been lessons on shibori tie-dyeing, how to knit a chunky blanket and hacks on festival wear.

“It’s been a total 180,” Riihimaki said of how much the social media landscape has changed since her start. “I think, at the time, no one realized this could be a career and you could build a brand.”

She added the shift in marketing dollars from more traditional plays to influencers is another trend that continues as more and more companies look to build their brands with the help of those, such as herself, who are adept at social media.

In the case of Riihimaki’s deal with La Jolla, Calif.-based Pura Vida, she was simply a fan of the bracelets and posting product photos that the company would then repost on social media. Pura Vida later reached out to her about a collaboration of five bracelets in bright hues accented with crystals and charms that Riihimaki said reflects her personality. That product is expected to hit the market early next month.

Her deal with retailer Ardene is another example of that shift in how brands are working with influencers.

The athleisure line with the retailer is the second collaboration between the two and includes sweats, joggers and hoodies. The collection is due out in mid-September.