(Photo: Courtesy Sarah Dubbeldam; illustration: Jessica De Jesus)

Move Over, Photoshop—This Magazine Features Real (and Inspiring) Women

Sarah Dubbeldam is being honored by In Her Company, a campaign celebrating the power, creativity, and impact of 30 inspiring women entrepreneurs.
Dec 8, 2014· 2 MIN READ
TakePart Staff

Tired of the media’s narrow portrayal of beauty, Sarah Dubbeldam created Darling magazine to showcase thoughtful and thought-provoking stories for ladies. Each issue features diverse women of all shapes and colors—and a “no retouching” policy for its photography.

Darling magazine
HQ: Los Angeles
Industry: Media
Founded: 2011

‘Darling’ is a quarterly print publication and online blog about “the art of being a woman,” with an aim to be a social movement and a catalyst for positive change in media. ‘Darling’ actively broadens the definition of beauty through its “no retouching” policy and representation of all sizes and ethnicities of models.

TakePart: How did you come up with the idea for your business? Was there a turning point that convinced you to start your own business?

Sarah Dubbeldam: After college, my friend Kelli and I read a book called A Return to Modesty, by Wendy Shalit, which completely changed our perspective on feminism, culture, and media. Inspired by Wendy’s ideology, we decided to create a magazine that wasn’t oversexualized and narrow in its view of beauty, like much of what we saw in the magazine industry. We wanted something real, something that addressed our own issues, issues that we knew weren’t ours alone but were shared by women in our community.

TakePart: What excites or inspires you? What do you care about?

Dubbeldam: I get excited about revolution—about ideologies that can change people’s entire life. About people such as Martin Luther King Jr., who changed the face of society through flipping ideas upside down and speaking truth to humanity. I care about women feeling alive, worth it, beautiful, and purposeful. I get so inspired hearing stories of women who rise up and go against negative messages of the world and live in a new reality.

TakePart: Do you see any common challenges among female business owners and entrepreneurs?

Dubbeldam: The main topic other female business owners and I usually discuss is managing employees and expectations. With a team, you need to inspire everyone to work hard while also being grateful, completely humble, and intentional all the time. It’s a delicate balance.

TakePart: What’s been the proudest moment that made you feel like your hard work was worth it?

Dubbeldam: When a girl wrote to Darling and said, “I’ve been affected by the overwhelming sense that I’m not beautiful, intelligent, or worth a second look for most of my life. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon your uplifting and truth-filled website! Thank you!” This was the first of many messages we now constantly receive, and it really helps us know Darling is making a difference.

TakePart: Who are your customers, and how do you engage and reach them?

Dubbeldam: Our customers are mainly 18- to 35-year-old women, although our demographic spans younger and older because our topics are highly relatable for all ages and positions in life. We reach most women through our blog and Instagram and through various women’s events and conferences.

TakePart: What’s one thing you wished someone had told you about your first year in business?

Dubbeldam: I wish someone had taught me how to manage employees and roles in a start-up company. When a company experiences growing pains, there are a lot of difficult situations to navigate, including shifting around duties and expectations as the company matures. As a young business owner, you want to be a good, strong, and clear leader while also being compassionate and relating to everyone that has come onboard with your vision.

TakePart: What’s the best mistake you ever made?

Dubbeldam: I’ve made many mistakes in tough conversations—getting heated or saying too much—that have only caused me to grow exponentially next time! Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I couldn’t agree more.

(Photo: Milena Mallory @milenamallory)

TakePart: What’s your dream for how your business looks in five years?

Dubbeldam: My dream is that Darling would grow and be one of the leading magazines on the shelves, that it would truly cause a social revolution of women feeling better about themselves, more powerful and full of purpose. We also want to create a kids’ magazine called Little Darling: The Art of Growing Up and create a study curriculum for junior high and high school girls.

This post is part of the series "In Her Company," created in collaboration with Eileen Fisher and designed to celebrate the power, creativity, and impact of women-owned businesses. Check out more stories at takepart.com/in-her-company.