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True stories from all women

About our guest:  Sarah Hartley is the creator, designer, and publisher of Holl & Lane Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating women's everyday existence and opening the door for tough conversations. Since 2015, Sarah and the H&L team has been dedicated to providing women with a platform to share their truths. From miscarriage and infertility to mental health and body image, Sarah believes in changing the media for good and celebrating women where they are.

"There wasn’t a magazine that showcased what life really looks like for most of us. So I wanted to create that."

[MK] You are the creator of Holl & Lane Magazine. Can you tell me how you started?

[SH] I started the magazine after a tough pregnancy with my first son. During my pregnancy I spent time writing about how hard it was on my personal blog and the outpouring of love I received from other women sharing their stories with me really hit me and made me realize that there wasn’t a magazine like this out there. There wasn’t a magazine that showcased what life really looks like for most of us. So I wanted to create that.

[MK] You describe your magazine as an honest magazine. What is your mission?

[SH] Our mission is to celebrate the authentic lives of women in the hopes of showing them that they are not alone. It’s as simple as wanting to share the important stories and having the tough conversations so that women feel that they are not alone in life.

[MK] As a magazine founder and editor what are the main issues you are facing in this industry?

[SH] Publishing a magazine is incredibly hard and incredibly expensive. Plus, because it has become so easy to create a magazine, it has become a saturated market. And lastly, there is so much free content available on the Internet, that asking people to pay for something has become very difficult.

"The love and vulnerability that goes into each issue makes me love them all."

[MK] What is your favorite issue of the magazine? Do you have a favorite story published by your magazine?

[SH] I’d say my favorite issue of the magazine was our Mind issue. This issue was all about mental health and truly lifted the veil on a very tough, but incredibly important conversation. We had the most beautiful essays featuring all different types of mental health and I was so proud of the women for being so honest in sharing. We had to print that issue three times because it kept selling out!  So it’s safe to say it was also a reader favorite. As for a favorite story, it’d be impossible for me to pick one. Every single time we publish a new issue I always say it’s my favorite. The love and vulnerability that goes into each issue makes me love them all.

[MK] What are the two features about your magazine that make it a unique mix and put it above other magazines in your sphere?

[SH] First, and most important, it’s that we’re sharing the hard conversations that need to take place in order to start real change. We talk about the parts of life that most people try to sweep under the rug. It’s what our magazine is built on and it’s what I’m most proud of.  

Second, I’d say it’s that we’re sharing stories from every day women - your mom, your sister, your cousin, your neighbor. We welcome stories from women of all walks of life.  We aren’t trying to put celebrities on the cover. We want true stories from all women.

[MK] You write mainly about women. From your point of view what is the most pressing issue women have nowadays? And what do you think could be the approach to solve it?

[SH] I think the most pressing issue is the expectation that is put on women to be perfect. No one is perfect, we’re all flawed creatures but that’s what makes us beautiful. Our battle scars are what have pulled us to the place we are in life and it’s a great place to be. No one is happy all the time, no one looks like they do on Instagram.  But yet, the media keeps forcing these expectations on women and that’s hard. The simplest way to begin solving this problem is by talking about it. By sharing the hard times. By opening up to your neighbor and allowing them to see the messy parts of life. Once we start to do that, we can accept who we all are right now.

"No one is happy all the time, no one looks like they do on Instagram."

[MK] You are a woman, you look very beautiful, and you run a successful business. What is the secret and how do you manage it all?

[SH] Ha, I wish it was all so simple, but thank you for the compliment! There are SO many days where I feel broken, like I’m falling apart and that I’m completely lost in life. But I truly feel that creating this magazine is what I was meant to do so I try not to stay down for too long because my purpose is to continue sharing as many stories as I can. I have a great support system that truly helps me manage everything. From the three other ladies on the H&L team, to my husband, to my son (and soon to be second baby), they bring me joy, they bring me hope, and they bring me support. That’s how I manage to keep it all going.

[MK] Could you describe yourself in 5 adjectives?

[SH] Determined, caring, empathetic, loving, kind.

[MK] What does the word “feminine” mean to you?

[SH] To me it means accepting who you are, loving where you are, and believing in yourself.

"the extreme expectations put on women can be crushing"

[MK] What is your opinion about the expectations the world sets on women? (i.e. Women are expected to be great moms, loving wives, breadwinners, look like models, be fit, be witty and fun). Do you think it is positive or negative to have high expectations?

[SH] As I mentioned before, I think that is the downfall of society right now. Sure, it’s great to expect women to be more than just a vessel for giving new life. But at the same time, the extreme expectations put on women can be crushing. And we’re constantly riddled with guilt when we feel that we can’t live up to these expectations - I speak from experience on that one.

[MK] Do you think the culture is moving towards becoming more women focused or less women focused?

[SH] Thankfully, I think more women focused. Women are incredible human beings and I think celebrating them a bit more for all that we can do is a great step. Women are a force to be reckoned with. I only hope it continues.

[MK] What is the point that most people would not agree with you upon when talking about women?

[SH] I don’t know that I have an opinion that most wouldn’t agree with me on. I am a feminist in that I believe women are incredible human beings who can do amazing things. And hopefully there aren’t many that disagree with that!

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