Los Angeles, CA
It all started with… a Kickstarter campaign.
Sarah Dubbledaum is on a mission to help women love themselves. She is the founder and editor in chief of Darling: a quarterly magazine which explores and celebrates the art of being a woman — with a no-photoshop policy. Darling Magazine launched with the help of a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and is now pioneering a positive feminine revolution, one page at a time.
Can you recall any mistakes you made during the early days of Darling?
I think the biggest mistake that I made was not being professional from the start. A lot of our founding members were friends and we had very casual systems in place for shoots and editorials. We didn’t pay enough attention to technicalities like contracts or usage rights — and were operating on the premise that we were a bunch of friends collaborating on this great idea. But with any business, it’s respectful to do it right from the start, even if you’re working with friends. It’s not something that happened on purpose, but when you’re scrambling to get your business off the ground it’s hard to stay organized. You need to put in adequate research to establish systems that will help you stay organized from the beginning.
What helps you stay focused on your goal?
We’re constantly reminding ourselves not to compare. When you look at your competitors, you start thinking that you should be where they are, instead of trusting that your business is at the size it needs to be. We try to be patient with growth and avoid being too pushy, and being grateful is part of that. If you focus on what you lack, your day-to-day becomes about fixing problems instead of enhancing what you already have. In our society, everything has become based on numbers — how many likes, how many views, et cetera. It’s always the first question versus the quality of what you’re making.
We’re trying to focus on quality. I want to create a company that has depth and is in it for the long haul, instead of selling out for the short-term. Our CEO (my husband) always says: “We’re not playing a short game, we’re playing a long game.”
How do you handle feelings of discouragement?
There are tough days when I don’t want to do Darling anymore. When I think about why I’m discouraged, it’s usually because I’m focusing on the lack again. For me, tenacity comes from recognizing impact. I keep a drawer full of letters, emails and reviews from our audience saying how Darling has influenced how they feel about themselves — and that gives me the energy to persevere. That’s why it's so important to have a why behind your business and to believe in your mission, because otherwise, what are you fighting so hard for?
We hear no a lot. We make a lot of big asks — from brands to celebrities — and when we get turned down, we move on. If it’s not the right fit and they don’t see the value in what we’re doing, perhaps we’re not going to make the best partners anyway. I think rejection is simply a difference in opinion of what you value and what someone else values.
How has your personal style and taste influenced the aesthetic of Darling?
Since I was 14-years-old I’ve been obsessed with France. I went with my family when was 16 and was so overwhelmed by the Parisian sense of style — how they’re so sexy, beautiful and yet modest at the same time. That magic of how French women dress and hold themselves is where we developed the word modesty in our mission statement, always leaving something to the imagination. I’m also influenced by Italian and Scandinavian aesthetics. I love mixing bright colors of Italian style with that Scandinavian girl-next-door look along with some Parisian femininity. Those 3 women represent who I am as the magazine’s director, and our fashion director has a vision in line with that. We consider other women’s tastes as well, but always branch out from that foundation we’ve established.
Be realistic yet fearlessly optimistic. Just because something didn’t work, doesn’t mean that everything has gone to crap. We have situations all the time like celebrities pulling out and photographers canceling day of. For that reason, we have a no freak out policy. We acknowledge that issues will happen, stay calm, and trust that everything will work out.
FOLLOW DARLING MAGAZINE