This weekend marked entrepreneur Lauren Conrad’s 28th birthday. In some ways, it feels like we have grown up with Conrad. We watched her on “Laguna Beach” and then “The Hills” (and then this summer we watched the reruns every morning when we got up or was that just me?) and now we get to see all the work she is doing with LaurenConrad.com and her new company The Little Market.

We have watched Lauren Conrad evolve from drama queen teen (sorry LC, we know it was encouraged) to a smart, young professional woman with a great head on her shoulders. She has managed to go from a reality star to running an empire with her many books, fashion lines, crafting and advice columns for various magazines and web sites (including Forbes.com) as well as major sponsorship from companies including Old Navy, AT&T and Avon’s Mark cosmetics.

She has done a few television appearances here and there, but she has stayed away from television and has made a point of saying that is not the direction she wants her career to go in. She didn’t want to fall back on her celebrity to leverage her career. In fact, Lauren had to work extra hard to prove she was more than a celebrity. She told Lucky Magazine earlier this year:

The TV show did not help my reputation very much. It was difficult to be taken seriously, but I think the fact that I went to school to study fashion and worked in the industry helped me. I think it’s a good thing to feel like you have to prove something, because you’re always going to have to work a little bit harder.

Clearly her hard work has paid off. Lauren is now a well respected designer, author and entrepreneur. She has even been compared to Martha Stewart, in terms of marketing her skill sets, creativity and personality. In a recent interview with Stylecaster she said, “I think the thing is that I’ve been very fortunate in my career. There’s not a business or a master plan as far as I’m concerned. I take it week by week, and I don’t think you ever expect to be able to do the next thing. At the moment, I think we’re really lucky. I get to do a lot of things that I really love. I work really hard, and it’s important I enjoy doing all of them.”