We're so thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with the talented photographer, writer and tour manager Robin Laananen (robinlaananen.com) and ask her all about her life on-the-road, work and vegan lifestyle! Check out the interview below to learn about Robin's lockdown campervan adventures, her LBLC style must-haves and her must-visit vegan restaurant picks from around the globe...
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a photographer and writer based in Los Angeles, and I mainly work in music, travel and commercial. Though I’ve also been a tour manager mainly as means to travel worldwide with musicians, to document life on the road. The lifestyle of spending weeks living on a bus, with regular flights, and waking in a new city (or a new country), every morning has been a big inspiration with my work. The continuous change of environment, with the only constant being the people I’m with, has been what’s continued to draw me to travel one way or another. I feel that we tend to lose curiosity while at home in familiar surroundings every day, and there can be beauty found in the exploration of the unknown. And, with music being a large inspiration behind my work, I’ve cherished the opportunity to document what happens off-stage with the people responsible for creating that music. I absolutely love the trust and collaboration involved in the process.
Photo of Robin Laananen
I was born and raised in Phoenix, moving to Seattle in my early 20’s, which is when and where the music scene blew my mind. I began my photography career while living in that bustling city full of talent coexisting within a tight, supportive community. I decided to relocate to Los Angeles over 15 years ago and being surrounded by so much nature has been what’s kept me here. It’s a nice place to return to, with the sunshine replenishing wary from the road.
During the COVID lockdowns, during those immensely tough two years which literally grounded any sense of “normal” life, I took solo road trips, covering thousands of miles in a campervan. Along the way, I found a newfound love for landscape photography, which led to my more recent favorite things to do which is to wake when it’s still dark, find a hike, and photograph the landscape at sunrise…. it feels as though I’m getting away with something while others sleep. During these hikes, I’d reflect on memories of doing the same search while on tour, but within more “urban landscape”, like the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, the neon covered streets of Tokyo, always finding the highest vantage point within a city and rarely alone.
To know me is to say I’m addicted to Lagree (a mutated version of reformer Pilates), I take it daily. Aside from when I eat nourishing vegan food, or hike, it’s when I feel most connected to my body. I truly grasped the benefits of hiking during the pandemic as a hike nearly forces your brain to be present with the moment, with your surroundings, which provides time to get out of your head, otherwise, you could get injured. As with most people, my mind is constantly overprocessing, so I enjoy physical exercise to encourage stillness.
2. How long have you been vegan and what made you decide to go vegan? What is your go-to recipe and / or restaurants that you recommend?
I’ve been vegan for over 15 years, vegetarian for over 25 years. I was traveling with a band which had a member who was vegan, and as I ate more vegan, I noticed that my body felt better, more energized. I began eating vegan for my health, for how I felt, and that has evolved through the years to include my lifelong love for animals and for the planet. The more research I did, the more reason I found to stay vegan. The choice has spread to the clothing I wear, the household items I use, anything I consume whether it be food or with my wallet.
I love cauliflower in any shape or form. An easy go-to recipe is roasted vegetables on brown rice or soba noodles, topped with a rotating flavor of sauce, like tahini. This was also easy to make while on those solo road trips! (The campervan had a two-burner propane stove, and I enjoyed cooking while my photographs from the day downloaded). During all this time at home, my cooking skills have really upped their game.
With extensive traveling in the mix, I can usually find somewhere to eat. (FYI, a side salad with fries is not a meal, and please stop with the spaghetti and marinara sauce). While traveling through more remote areas, I must plan. While on tour, I’ll buy take-out meals for the days on the bus when passing through towns having not yet welcomed delicious vegan options. Luckily, being the tour manager, I’m able to choose what’s provided with catering.
3. Where did you discover LBLC and what are some of your favorite pieces? How do you personally style them? When you go on the road, are there any LBLC must have clothing items and why?
I discovered LBLC when I stayed with my mom in Montana for a few weeks during the 2020 chaos. I spent the days working to restructure and evolve my photography career and was looking for vegan clothing lines. I was immediately drawn to the style and variety LBLC had available, from loungewear to a fancy night out, as that spoke to my habits (not to mention all the options in my favorite color, black). I could tell the creative behind the brand had people on the move in mind.
When touring, when suitcase space is an issue, I like to bring a few choice pieces to dress up when the opportunity arises. I love the “Cindy Button Neck Blouse”, “Marley Off The Shoulder Tee”, and the “Anita Off Shoulder Top”, which I pair up with either my “Ali Med Rise Legging” or black jeans, typically, and a nice coat or vegan leather jacket. When we were all grounded at home due to the pandemic, I basically lived in my “Jaime Pocket Lounge Pants”.
4. Having traveled so much, are there any hidden gems that you recommend checking out?
Yes! For the States, RUT Bar & Café (Spokane), Vedge (Philadelphia), Modern Love (Omaha), Green Bar & Kitchen (Ft Lauderdale), Green (Phoenix), VegeNation (Vegas), Fancy Radish (DC) and to visit Chicago is to go to the (classic) Chicago Diner for some serious comfort food.
For the world, Gigi (Sydney), Smith & Daughters (Melbourne), Mom’s Creation (Berlin), Plant Hub (London) even Three Chimneys in Isle of Skye has a vegan menu available (when I’m always sure to compliment the chef for providing).
Check out more of Robin's gorgeous photography below, featuring some of her LBLC the label favorites...