This post is the first in a new series called Stories of Simple + Intentional Living. I’ll be interviewing people from all walks of life with one thing in common—their desire to live simple and intentional lives!
This month, I’m chatting with Sarah Hartley, the creator of Holl & Lane magazine. What really inspires me about Sarah is the way she combined her dream of creating a magazine with her vision of empowering women through untold stories. I think it’s a beautiful example of intentional living and I’m so excited to share her story with you today!
Sarah Hartley is the creator, designer, editor and publisher of Holl & Lane Magazine, a quarterly magazine designed to show real stories from real women in the hopes of showing them they’re not alone. She is also a wife, a mom to two boys, and works full-time at an architecture firm.
Tell me the story of Holl & Lane—why did you decide to start a magazine? What was your vision?
When I was pregnant with my first son, I had a really hard time – I wasn’t glowing, I was sick all nine months, and in general, didn’t enjoy the experience. During that time I wrote on my personal blog about my experience and started receiving such amazing feedback from readers telling me how thankful they were that I was being honest about it.
Normally in media, we just see the women who love being pregnant. But there are so many of us that struggle. As I received the comments and emails, I started to realize that there wasn’t a magazine out there talking about the things that we struggle with in an honest way. I had always dreamed of having a magazine and so the two ideas came together to form Holl & Lane.
From Jen: I’ll admit I struggled a lot during pregnancy and I definitely felt the pressure to put on a smile and hide my feelings! It was so brave of you to talk about it!
My vision has always been to tell the stories that often go untold – the ones that we feel we have to hide from the rest of the world. I believe that when you open up and share these stories, you allow other women to stand up and say “me, too” and that’s powerful.
Has this vision changed over the years? And if so, how?
My vision hasn’t changed but the scale of what we talk about has. I haven’t experienced all of the things that the women who write for us have. But that is what makes it great. There are so many experiences talked about in our pages that it’s nearly guaranteed that when you pick up an issue, you’ll be able to relate to at least one of the stories inside.
I think a lot of people are afraid to follow their dreams because they’re worried about failing or overwhelmed by all the things they don’t know yet. What advice would you give to someone in this position?
It is absolutely terrifying to follow your dreams. But I’ve always thought it’s more terrifying to never go after them because you never know what could’ve happened. When I first started the magazine, I didn’t tell very many people because I was worried about failing in front of them.
But then I just had to realign what failure meant. Trying something is not failing, no matter if it doesn’t work out. You always learn and grow through the experience and that’s important. Also, Google will be your best friend for all those things you don’t know.
As a blogger, I often fall into the comparison trap, worrying if what I’m doing is good enough and questioning if I should be doing things a different way because it’s what everyone else is doing. Do you ever feel this too? And if so, what are your tips for staying true to yourself and your vision?
My biggest problem is comparing myself to others. I compare not only my personal skills but also the magazine to other magazines – even those that have been in business for years and years. It’s such a tough thing to get over, and I don’t know that I’ve truly gotten a handle on it yet.
But in general, when I start to compare myself to others and I get down on myself about where I or the magazine are, I go to my sunshine folder. It’s a folder where I keep amazing comments and emails that I’ve gotten from our readers that tell me how the magazine has changed them. Those are the things that get me back on MY path so that I keep doing what I need to be doing.
From Jen: I love the idea of a sunshine folder! I think it’s something a lot of people could benefit from, whether you’re in a creative industry or not.
Holl & Lane is all about sharing stories. What’s the most powerful story you’ve heard as an editor and how did it change you?
I don’t think there’s one story that I could point to and say that it’s changed me. Every single story that comes to me has changed me in some way because 1) these women are trusting me with something that has shaped who they are as a person, and 2) seeing what these women have gone through and come out on the other side of is humbling.
I will say, the hardest stories for me to edit and design the spread around are the ones that focus on the loss of a child. Being a mom, that is my greatest fear in life and I often have to walk away from the story several times throughout the process.
As a minimalist, I can’t help but ask this question—what do you want less and more of in your life this year?
We all want more time, right? But if I’m being realistic, I want less of putting myself on the back burner and more self-care. Materialistically, I want to acquire less “stuff”. I have always been the person that when I get bored, I shop. I don’t need or even want anything, and yet that satisfies my boredom for the moment. I’ve been shopping much, much less recently and it’s already feeling more freeing.
I was stalking the Holl & Lane Instagram and saw a great quote about making yourself a priority and taking time for yourself (so important for everyone but especially us new mamas!). So I’m curious, how do you to make yourself a priority with so many projects on the go?
As I mentioned previously, this is the one thing I’d like to change this year. I do a terrible job of making time for myself. The only thing I do consistently is at the end of every single day, I read. No matter if it’s for 5 minutes or an hour, I will read before I go to bed. It’s the only way to truly clear my head. But now that I’m able to start exercising again after the birth of my second baby, I’m trying to make that a priority as well. I don’t love to workout, but getting an hour to myself to either go for a walk and listen to a podcast, or go to a Zumba class does wonders for my psyche.
From Jen: I think your commitment to reading every night is fantastic! I’m always trying to encourage my readers to look for small things they can do every day to bring more joy into their lives and this is a perfect example.
I think one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves is to write our own definitions of success, so tell me—what does success mean to you? And do you feel like you’re on the right track?
Success to me is knowing that I’ve somehow made a difference, even if it’s just to one person. I don’t need to be a millionaire, but I do need to know that what I’m doing is valuable. Based on the sunshine folder I keep handy, it definitely feels like I’m on the right track and I couldn’t be more proud of where Holl & Lane is going in the future.
To learn more about Holl & Lane, pick up the FREE mini issue showcasing reader favourite stories from all of the past issues. Visit hollandlanemag.com to sign up. You can also follow Holl & Lane on Facebook and Instagram.