Radical Vulnerability and Honest Conversation with Sarah Hartley
1| Welcome, Sarah! Please start by introducing yourself, sharing who you are and what you do, and any odd habits or weird quirks you have. We want the full scoop!
Thank you for having me! I’m Sarah, the creator, editor in chief, publisher, designer, etc. of Holl & Lane Magazine. As most entrepreneurs know, when you start your own business, you wear all of the hats at some point! I’m also a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband named Brandon and the mom to two beautiful boys named Henry (4 years) and Harrison (5 months). We live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Odd habits and quirks? I’ve got plenty of those! One of the strangest things about me is what my family calls my “food rules”. Things like: I don’t like cheese, but I love pizza, nachos, mozzarella sticks, etc. I don’t like chocolate, but I love brownies and most candy bars. I also really hate my food to touch on my plate. One year for Thanksgiving, my in-laws gave me one of those kid separator plates so that my food wouldn’t touch. I think they were kidding with it, but I loved it!
2| You are the Editor in Chief of Holl & Lane, a magazine featuring real life stories of real life women. Can you share your journey of starting this publication? What inspired you to start?
I had a pretty miserable pregnancy with my first son. I was sick all nine months, in and out of the hospital, and generally feeling lousy. I was NOT the glowing, happy pregnant woman the media had lead me to believe I would be. And I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. So I began to write about how I was honestly feeling on my personal blog. I had so many amazing readers reach out to me to thank me for telling the truth about it all, and to say they too had felt the same but never felt they could talk openly about it. This got my wheels spinning - where is the media sharing what life is ACTUALLY like for so many of us?
When I couldn’t find a magazine showcasing these authentic life stories, I decided to create one. So in 2015, the very first issue of Holl & Lane was born! I wanted H&L to be a place where women had a platform to share their life journey, to connect with other women going through similar things, and to see that they were not alone. It was, and is, so important to me to share stories that so many women face but feel they can’t talk about - mental health, body image, love, loss, infertility, miscarriage, medical issues, and so much more. I want this magazine to be a showcase of the beauty of life.
3| In a world that praises “perfection” and shames the truth, it can be hard to get vulnerable and share your story. Could you share your advice on how more women can open up and share their truth?
It can be so, so hard. But to me, the biggest blessing for all of this is seeing the connections you can form with other women through your story. So, if you just think about the one other woman out there in the world who needs to hear YOUR story just so that she’ll know she isn’t alone, just as you may be feeling, it makes things easier.
Plus, opening up and sharing can be a huge sigh of relief on your part. So many of our writers have told us how cathartic writing their essays have been. That they’ve finally brought to life so many of the feelings they had kept hidden. And that’s a powerful thing - you’re taking back control of your own story by speaking it out loud.
4| As the founder of a publication that praises deep stories, I’m sure you have some of your own. Could you share part of your story briefly & how it has empowered you to hold space for other women?
I’ll be honest, I sometimes feel that I’m not qualified to share these stories because I haven’t been through a lot of “deep” things in my life. I had a miserable pregnancy, I’ve had issues with my father my whole life, I’ve lost people close to me to cancer. But compared to some of the stories we share, my stories never feel they stack up. But the thing is - they’re still MY stories. They are still what have shaped me into being the person I am today. And I think that’s what is important for everyone to remember - we ALL have a story. You just have to realize that yours is just as valid as everyone else’s.
5| I think the key to deeper connection is radical vulnerability. Could you share three pieces of advice for someone who’s looking to start getting more vulnerable (either on their platform or within a personal relationship)?
Number one is to try writing it down first. Just getting it out of your mind and onto paper can be a huge step for you. Sometimes we hold these stories so close to ourselves that even writing it down can seem terrifying.
Number two is to grab a friend that you feel closest to, that you don’t feel will judge you no matter what you say (we all have amazing friends like that). Start with telling her your story. Saying it out loud is the next huge step.
And number three, share it far and wide - if that’s what you want to do. Some of us don’t want to share with more than a couple of people, and that’s completely okay. Some of us want to share more widely and help create connection with others. Whatever you choose, that is YOUR decision and that is all that matters.
6| Lastly, what do you want to be remembered for, and how do you hope to impact the world?
I want to be remembered as someone who gave a voice to the women who felt they didn’t have one - who shared the stories that truly needed to be heard. Being open and honest is a huge gift for the world and if I can help women do that, I’ve done my job here.
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Sarah Hartley is the creator and editor in chief of Holl & Lane Magazine, a magazine dedicated to showcasing real life from real women. Searching for a magazine that featured honest life in a beautiful way, that would give women a voice and a platform, Sarah set out to create that magazine. She publishes stories on infertility, miscarriage, mental health, body image, self-care, love and loss, and so much more. She wants to show women that they are not alone. She is also a wife to Brandon, a mom to Henry and Harrison, and lives near Pittsburgh, PA. In her (minimal) spare time, she loves to read, have dance parties with her son, and enjoy a beer with her husband at the end of a long week.