Lauren Sanderson used the internet to make a name for herself. But there’s one thing she says it can’t beat: Handwritten letters.
The 22-year-old recording artist began exchanging letters with fans while in high school, where she garnered a following on YouTube for her motivational videos.
“I opened up a PO Box and posted [the address] online,” Sanderson said. “I said, ‘Hey, I opened up this mailbox and you can send me stuff.’ I checked it every day. Then one day I got five letters.”
The mail she began receiving was from other young people who, like her, felt “different.” Many letters were from teens facing issues with their sexuality, self-esteem and life at home.
In 2015, Sanderson presented a TED Talk to parents and read from some of the letters she received. Her message: I can’t do this alone. Talk to your kids.
Sanderson began turning her motivational speeches into songs and recently signed with Epic Records after finding success on SoundCloud and iTunes.
The attention has generated more mail.
Sanderson receives as many as 100 letters a month, depending on how often she posts her PO Box address online.
She’s also received interesting gifts through the mail, including a large box of homemade cookies.
“I made a YouTube video of myself opening the box,” she said. “They were amazing. I wrote back to tell [the fan] that my mom didn’t want me to eat them, but that I ate them anyway.”
Fans who follow her on social media have expressed their appreciation.
On Sanderson’s Instagram page, one follower recently wrote: “You are hands down the best at interacting with fans and don’t ever let anyone tell you [otherwise].”
Those who have written to Sanderson can rest assured their letters are not forgotten.
“I don’t like to throw them away,” she said, explaining that she keeps the letters either at her childhood home in Indiana or her Los Angeles apartment. “Their secret is safe with me.”
Sanderson understands what it means when she writes her fans back.
“They want to confide in someone they know will accept them and validate that they are important no matter who they are,” she said. “My main goal is to be the person to them I wish I had.”