Holl & Lane is a beautiful, powerful magazine which tells real life stories from real women for the purpose of starting real conversations. I had the privilege of interviewing the editor Sarah Hartley for Girl Untold, and I’m delighted to share this conversation!
What prompted you to start Holl & Lane?
I have been a personal blogger since 2011 and my blog really picked up steam when I was pregnant. I had a fairly miserable pregnancy and so I talked about it. The honest parts of it. I wasn’t glowing, I wasn’t head over heels with my new body. It was tough and I didn’t enjoy it. When I started to open up about these things, I got so many emails from readers saying “THANK YOU. I wish more people would talk about this because it’s exactly how I felt!” It struck me as interesting that there were all of these conversations that needed to be had but yet people were afraid to talk about them. So I wanted to start the conversations and talk about uncomfortable things and show people that they really weren’t alone even if it felt like that.
Tell us about a time you have overcome adversity in your life that brought about positive change in you as a person.
My first job out of college was working as an assistant buyer for a clothing store – which at the time was a dream job for me. However, I quickly found myself living in The Devil Wears Prada and my health and overall life began to suffer. By quitting that job, it showed me so many things about myself, but most importantly: My “dream job” wasn’t really my dream job – there was something else I was meant to do, and that I was strong enough to stand up for myself when I was in a bad position. I came out of that feeling a bit lost but stronger overall. And now looking back, it’s clear that wasn’t the job for me.
Holl & Lane is about getting tough conversations going. Can you think of a difficult conversation you’ve had and how did you deal with it?
I am someone who often shies away from difficult conversations because I get so uncomfortable. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that they are a necessary part of life. Learning to stand up for myself is one of those conversations and telling people that I love the most that I won’t stand for being talked to in certain ways has been both terrifying and gratifying. Things will not always be rosy and bright, and that’s okay. That’s what we try to stress with H&L. Since H&L has come into my life, I’ve been more willing to have those tough conversations, I’ve been more willing to be vulnerable and open, I’ve been willing to be honest and share pieces of me.
What is the toughest challenge you have faced in business so far and how have you overcome it?
Everything about the magazine business is hard. But I’d say the most difficult is just the financial side of it. The large majority of indie magazines don’t make a profit, or at least not a large one because it is so expensive to print and ship a magazine. So having to come up with funding for every single issue is always a challenge. We’ve started working on some extra behind the scenes things to hopefully make up some of the difference.
Another difficult thing is just getting the name out there. The industry is so saturated these days that it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. But luckily we have an amazing army of women who are truly loyal and believe in the magazine and they help us out a lot.
Lastly, because I also work a full-time job in addition to running the magazine (and I’m a wife and mom), time is always an issue. So I’ve just learned to delegate to my team more and take advantage of the time I do have. When I sit down and know that I only have a half hour lunchbreak, or one hour once my son is in bed, I blast through things quickly.
How do you cope if you are being self-critical?
This is something I struggle with every day because I’m a perfectionist. I always think I can do, and be, better. So it’s learning to temper my expectations and realizing that I am not superwoman no matter how much I wish I was. Oftentimes I’ll take a step back and look at the good things I HAVE done to remind myself that I’m right where I should be.
What’s your favourite self-care practice?
I love to read. Every single night before I go to bed, no matter how tired I am, I read something that has nothing to do with business. I might read for five minutes, or fifty minutes, but I do it each night. It’s a way for me to get out of my own head and to just relax. When I have trouble dragging myself to bed but still pick up a book my husband always says “Why don’t you just go to sleep?!”, but it’s my thing. I need those few minutes of uninterrupted time.
If you could give one piece of advice to a younger you, what would it be (and what age is she?)
I’d give advice to my college age self who had no idea what she was going to do with her life. And I’d tell her that things will work out exactly how they are meant to. You don’t have to have all of the answers right now. The “thing” you’re meant to do will find you when it’s time.
What would you say to our readers if they are feeling alone?
You are never alone and I can guarantee that someone else out there has had an experience similar to yours. Talk to a friend (online or real life), open up about what is hurting you, be willing to have those tough conversations. Because not only will you feel better having talked to someone about it, you’ll also give her the permission to say “me, too”. And that is powerful. And hey, if you don’t want to talk to someone you know, email me and talk to me. I’m a good listener.