Every month we invite you to The Office Hour with Darling, a live video conference to answer your questions — personal, professional and everything in between — on Thursday afternoon at 4pm PST.
Join us in March by sending in a question to reserve your spot here!
For our first live chat, CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dubbeldam answered questions on entrepreneurship, the creative process and where to start as a creative professional.
We’re sharing the top three questions from our first session below. Questions have been edited for length and clarity.
Question 1: Where to Begin
How can I get started in the creative world, specifically the magazine industry, while still having a lot of learning and growing to do? I would love to get some guidance on where to go, who to talk to and how to manage it all.
Sarah: Thank you! First, I would say that learning is always the best attitude you can come to anything with.
If it’s writing you want to improve at, I recommend just reading as much as you can. Our team is constantly reading and practicing writing, which you should do and then find publications and blogs you’d like to write for and submit pitches to them! Sometimes teams are very busy and can’t go through a finished piece sent to them, but what you can do is really show you’ve done your homework to get to know a brand, and pitch them on content that would naturally line up with what they publish.
Find people in your circle or research people in the field who you admire and might be available to reach out to give advice. It’s always good to get that outside perspective of someone who has been in an industry for longer than you have or someone who has built a business. People are often wrapped up in their own things, but if you come with a few specific, well-rounded questions, you might find new direction, or confirmation, with some tips!
Before that, you can even ask your friends to read over your writing, give you edits and tell you where you can improve. That’s how we began in the very beginning of Darling, just asking our friends to write for the blog and really depending on that great group.
Question 2: Diversity in the Darling Team
I noticed on Instagram that there is a severe lack of diversity in your team. How can you write to the masses (of women) if the masses don’t all look and have the same privileges and opportunities as your staff? Are you planning on diversifying your staff, and what is the action plan for reaching this goal?
Sarah: I love that question and I’m so glad you brought it up. I knew we would probably get questions after we posted a staff photo in the new year and it was definitely something where we were disappointed we couldn’t get everyone in the photo. Our amazing Head of Production is on the road right now, shooting some really incredible new video content we are so excited to share with you. She’s a force within her industry, so generous, and a black woman. She’s a sounding board for so much of what we are creating and gearing up to create. We have first and second generation Americans on our staff with mother countries across Central America and Asia and Europe.
We’re a fairly small team at HQ but Darling is the work of over 90 contributors for every single issue, many of whom have been with us from the very beginning or close to it, and although you get to see their art and their writing, you don’t get to see their faces. Their names are in there and together we bring a rich depth of perspective to the magazine and to the company.
I understand and share the concern for diversity when it comes to leadership and representation. At Darling we’ve always been about the long game and have scaled very slowly. We’ve worked very nimbly with a small team even up to this point. As the company grows into a better position to grow numbers on the team, a depth and breadth of perspective and diversity is very important to us.
Question 3: Funding a New Venture
I’m dealing with the harsh reality that it’s hard to get start-up capital for a start-up. How did you guys find capital in the early days when bootstrapping didn’t cut it?
Sarah: It’s definitely not easy to do it, so congratulations on launching your business! In the very beginning, it was a passion project between friends, and more friends, who we asked to write and style and photograph and more. It was really hard to have not much to offer in return for really precious time, talent and dedication.
We printed the first issue of Darling after a Kickstarter campaign we did to fund production and printing. I definitely recommend crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to “test” the market and the response to your product. For investors, it’s good to present a prototype or finished product to demonstrate that you know your audience and can show there is a demand for your unique product. We had launched the blog for a year before going to print, developing our network of contributors and readers. When you have that product in hand already complete, you don’t have to pitch off just an idea but something you’ve made and proved fills a hole in an industry.
Thanks for sending in your questions! Wondering something else? Let us know here! Join us next month for The Office Hour where the Darling team will sit down again for a live Q&A.
Images via Lindsey Reeves