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Darling Magazine embodies everything we love - empowering women, redefining beauty, and creating media that matters. We got to chat with Darling's Managing Editor, Teresa Archer, about their ongoing mission, cultivating a loyal following, and using Instagram to spread their brand. They've coined the hashtags #thatsdarling and #darlingweekend and continue to make waves in the digital world because of their thoughtful and intentional content. We love that Darling Magazine never photoshops any of their images! It's all about real stories from real women; that's a mission we can get behind. Everything from their visual content to their articles to their IG copy is in line with their brand. Read on to discover more about why Darling is a frontrunner in the world of content and media.
Please tell us your story and background. How did you come to be at Darling Media?
Sarah Dubbeldam, the Founder and CEO of Darling, and I have been friends for over ten years. When she began the blog, I was living in New Zealand, newly married, and had just been considering how I wanted to re-engage with the literature/writers world. It was perfect, and from there I continued to write for almost every print issue until a few years later I began to edit the articles. Two or so years ago I transitioned to my role as Managing Editor and was curating the article topics and finding authors for the themes Sarah had for each issue via an online Google doc. We used to have these long Skype sessions every few months, but we'd be dying over how much ground we had to cover. We're both pretty enthusiastic especially around the issues Darling covers! Eventually, it got to be too much, and my family moved back to Los Angeles in December of 2016 so that I could be on the ground with Darling full time.
Describe Darling Media's mission. How would you describe Darling's brand identity in three words? How has the company evolved since the beginning?
We say at Darling that we are a positive media company and use phrases like "reshaping authentic design," and I think that at the heart of it, Darling wants to create a space where women can be honest about how empowered—or even pained—they feel, without judgment or criticism. From there, we seek to remove the boundaries that box each woman into one "lane" and allow us to be whole people with complex thoughts, desires, and relationships. Our brand identity in three words? Smart, kind, and quirky. When we began, Darling was a blog and then a print quarterly, but now we are so much more in expression. The heart is the same, but now we host events, maintain a social community, and have begun forming video content that are physical manifestations of the conversations and convictions that we have been engaging with. There are so many ways to be a part of our movement, it's exciting and also hopefully accessible for even more people than before.
Tell us about the Darling community. How have you worked to cultivate such a robust and loyal following and how do you stay connected with your followers?
I think it's fascinating to see just how faithful and genuine our community of women (and some men even!) have been. We've had interns and even current staff who remember when the Kickstarter came for our first magazine; it's pretty incredible. I think part of what has been successful about Darling is that we have allowed it to grow and mature along with our "sisterhood" while still maintaining a high priority on diving deep into themes that are relevant to any age or background of women. I know that Sarah, Rebekah Shannon, (Darling's Photo Editor) and myself regularly talk about marrying visuals and topics and voices that will engage women at a heart and soul level, without sacrificing style. We all love that Darling is artistic, and we refuse to "dumb down" either our topics or our visuals to try to become anything. Each shoot, story, and event is about believing the best of women and elevating the conversation, and I think women love that. They feel seen, heard, and known, and that's pretty amazing.
"Each shoot, story, and event is about believing the best of women and elevating the conversation."
Your Instagram is the loveliest! What are your top 3 tips when it comes to cultivating a brand on IG?
- First and foremost, be honest about who you are, what you believe, and your process in getting there.
- Love variety—Keep mixing up beautiful imagery with different kinds of content.
- Listen well: to what your followers say, respond to, and care about. It's a relationship like any other, and that means you put in the work to stay engaged.
What are the biggest lessons you've learned so far as the Managing Editor and at Darling?
I'm always learning to let things change when they need to and to keep pushing out of my preconceptions of what will work. Both of these lessons involve constant near-Socratic thought! In so many meetings, or even when we are met with a critical comment, I feel the need always to ask, "Do we need to change? Are they even a little bit correct? Is there a better way, a simpler way, to do this? Are we being honest or just sassy? Is this story really because it's the right thing to do or because people want us to do it?" A lot of concepts hit the floor when they don't pass these kinds of questions, and that's an excellent thing. Cream rises to the top, and in allowing resistance to come in the creative process—sometimes even between staff members over topics and shoots—we allow the best to come forward.
"It's fascinating to see just how faithful and genuine our community of women
(and some men even!) have been."
My typical day looks like...
time at the computer answering emails, time on sets or at locations meeting amazing humans, staring at the wall conceptualizing, chatting with Sarah (Dubbeldam) about ideas we have, researching... and then going home to my daughters and husband to laugh and dance around the house until bedtime.
My favorite thing about my job is...
that I'm shaping culture with a team, who not only care deeply about what we do but are wildly talented and take risks with how we do it.
I stay balanced with work and personal life by...
making sure I always look my family in the eye when I'm with them, and maintaining 100% focus when I'm working. If I maximize my work hours, I don't need to allow them to take over what's most important.
I could never live without...
praying. Seriously these days I can't get through all the ups and downs of the realities of what is happening around us without constantly releasing my worries in constant tiny prayers. Then I can breathe and move on.
Darling Magazine is redefining beauty and empowering women by...
changing not only the subject but the nature of the dialogue around them.