Sarah Hartley

That “thing” you’re meant to do in life? It’ll find you, don’t stress too much.


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.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Holl & Lane became an idea in my mind when I was pregnant with my first son, and feeling pretty miserable. I noticed that everywhere I looked, the media was telling me that this was the best time in my life, that I should be glowing and so in love with what was happening. And that just wasn’t how I felt. So I started writing about it on my personal blog and had so many readers tell me how grateful they were that I was talking honestly about something that so many of them had felt but didn’t think they were allowed to talk about. I wanted a magazine that did the same thing – that talked about the honest moments of life, not the Instagram-perfect moments.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have two young sons, so I don’t really have a typical day. Often I sneak in work either while they are napping or once they’re in bed for the night. Two days a week they go to daycare for 5 hours so that I can solely focus on Holl & Lane. This has been enormously helpful. But from the minute I get back from dropping them off at daycare, until the minute I have to leave to pick them up, I am plowing through my to-do list. I make very specific notes about what needs to be done and on what day so that I am never wondering what I should be working on next.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The voice of our readers and writers are brought to life through the stories we tell – whether in the magazine or on our blog. Having a magazine allows me the chance to design each article and bring the words that they’re telling into a visual format and hopefully impact the person reading it.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I love that there is more open talk about things like mental health and body image. When I started this magazine over three years ago, you still didn’t see much in the way of open vulnerability. So I am loving that so many more people are being open about their journeys in life.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am incredibly focused and determined. When I’m passionate about something, there isn’t much that can stop me. So no matter how much is on my plate, it’s guaranteed to get done, and more often than not, it’ll get done early.

What advice would you give your younger self?

That “thing” you’re meant to do in life? It’ll find you, don’t stress too much. I never expected to be running my own magazine, but now I cannot imagine doing anything else. And when I was growing up, I was so concerned about finding the reason I was put on this planet. Instead, it found me.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Being vulnerable in your business is a good thing. It allows your consumers to see that you are human and allows them to connect with you on a new level.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make a list! I don’t know how some people are able to function and just remember all they need to get done without lists. If I didn’t make lists, I’d never remember what was on my plate.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Fostering a community. The amazing community surrounding Holl & Lane is 100% how we’ve grown. They are our biggest cheerleaders and getting to know them on a personal level is our single biggest reason behind our success. Consumers want to know the people behind the business and I think we’ve done an excellent job at letting them know who we are, and our hearts.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Oh, so many! But I know that one of the biggest that we had in the beginning was when we were moving our subscribers over to a new platform. In the process, some things got mixed up and many of our subscribers ended up getting charged a second time for their subscription. I felt awful. So I immediately sent a personal email to subscribers affected letting them know what happened, why it happened, and that it was already on its way to being corrected. I also offered to pay any overdraft fees if they incurred any. Thankfully, everyone was INCREDIBLY understanding and told me not to worry about it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’m in desperate need of a business that would make handling subscriptions for indie magazines much easier. I’d love if someone would come up with the software for that!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought a thermal printer. It doesn’t run on ink so I never have to pay to replace the cartridges and it is SO FAST. When I print out the labels for our new issues, it has cut my time more than in half. It’s amazing and I wish I had bought it sooner.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Recently our team switched to Clickup and it’s AMAZING. It’s a task creator but it does so much more than anything I’ve used in the past. Our team even uses it for their personal tasks as well.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

This is a recent book that seems to be all the rage, but “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis has quickly climbed to be one of my all-time favorite books. The takeaways and advice that she provides inside those pages are so honest and real. I’ve already read through it a second time and each time I find more nuggets of wisdom.

What is your favorite quote?

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”. My husband had this put on a necklace for me so that I’d never stop believing in myself.

Key learnings:

  • Keep very specific notes about what you need to do and when. That way you’re never wondering what you should be working on.
  • That “thing” you were meant to do in life will find you if you’re open to it.
  • Fostering a community is enormously helpful in growing your business. Let your consumers know YOU.
  • When you make a mistake, own up to it, describe what happened, and inform how you’re going to fix it. People are much more willing to be understanding if you do.