The Hartley Hustle with Katie/HS Updates.
Hello, loves! There is a LOT going on right now with Hartley Social (and our government and our country and women in general), so I figured we were due for a chat. I also finally got around to answering the Hartley Hustle questions you submitted for YOURS TRULY, so the Q+A is included at the bottom!
Let’s start with the fun part.
Those of you who keep up with HS on Instagram know that our girl gang has grown by SEVEN in the last month or so. We’ve brought on Content Creators in Chicago, Columbus, Indy, Lexington, Louisville and Atlanta, and will be introducing them to you on the blog soon!
We are narrowing our focus to fashion, beauty, food, and lifestyle brands. If you or another boss babe (or boss dude) you know is looking for branding, social media, influencer or event services, you know who to call. We’ll be updating the site (long overdue, we know) with some fresh content and our updated portfolio soon, but in the meantime, feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see any examples of our work or to have a friendly chat about your needs.
Now on to the not-so-fun, but necessary, part.
I want to start by saying #MeToo. This is the first time I have uttered those words, and it was a long time coming. When #MeToo began to flood my feed and timeline a month ago, I felt a constant internal turmoil. It’s really difficult to concisely articulate your feelings when you’ve been on a rollercoaster for weeks, but, to summarize, it’s been a cycle of empathy, anger, distraction, acceptance, empowerment, and disbelief.
Post-election, it feels like there has been a tragedy every week. It’s hard to balance grieving for the world around you (and for yourself) and forging ahead with your own goals without becoming hardened. That dance alone is exhausting, and, as a white, privileged woman, few of the issues affect me directly.
Sexual harassment, however, has affected me directly, like it has most women. It has been such a prevalent and pervasive part of my life that what I found most difficult about the #MeToo movement was actually just acknowledging it.
I was scared that #MeToo was just a fleeting Facebook trend- that if we didn’t speak up within a two day window, we would miss our opportunity. Maybe the only thing keeping the conversation alive is that every day a powerful man is outed, but regardless, the conversation is still alive. And that is incredibly important.
We have to continue to share our stories; every time we vocalize our experience, we validate someone else. While there are striking similarities in all of these stories (dismantle the patriarchy, ammirite?), they are still different. Different enough to warrant being told. The way we respond to harassment is different. The way we internalize harassment is different. The way we move forward from harassment is different. And the more we let others in on our experiences, and our responses, the less they can victim-blame. When we all respond differently, the solution can no longer lie in how we respond. The problem is the predator.
At 15, I had my first traumatic experience with sexual assault. He preyed on all of my friends. I disliked him before it happened, and I disliked him after. But not all experiences are so cut and dry. There is a reluctancy to be open about the fact that victims can be conflicted. Your predator can give you opportunities and build you up while still making unwanted advances. It’s okay if you looked past behaviors that made you uncomfortable because there were things you admired about someone. Simultaneously experiencing more than one emotion doesn’t discredit you. It’s not up to you to flawlessly navigate those situations (especially when no one talks about them). It’s up to predators to cut that shit out and to stop abusing their power.
This is the conversation we need to have. Just because you didn’t pepper spray your abuser or immediately quit your job or shout about your experience from the rooftops doesn’t make you any less of a victim. Women have adopted countless responses to sexual harassment as a means of survival (literally- whether it’s to avoid physical harm from men with fragile egos or to keep a roof over our heads). We are not the problem.
What we need is a major cultural shift, and the only way to accomplish a change of that magnitude is through solidarity. Never stop talking. Never stop listening. Lift up your sisters. And, when you can, provide alternatives! (It’s not an accident that every Hartley Social team member is a woman.)
I urge all of you to participate. Tell your stories. Ask your friends and sisters and nieces. We all have a responsibility to create change. This movement has been a breath of fresh air- it's up to us to decide whether is it just a movement or the beginning of a culture that respects women.
Aaaaand end with a Q+A!
Q: What was your first job?
A: My very first job was at Hollister. I still, to this day, secretly love Hollister’s Malaia perfume. I was actually at the mall putting in job applications when I stopped in Hollister for a bottle of Malaia and was recruited as a “model” (their way of forcing you to buy/wear their clothes). I really wanted to work at a different store, but wasn’t old enough, so I decided I would work at Hollister until my birthday. I ended up staying for about 6 months. It was meh. The music was so loud, and the parents were always yelling at you because the music was so loud, but you couldn’t control it. At the time, though, I was really good about saving money. 15% of every paycheck went to my savings.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I, like everyone else on the planet, find Sophia Amoruso super inspiring. I obviously love the story of how she built Nasty Gal from NOTHING, with NO investors, but I also love how she has been transparent about unglamorous things like divorce and bankruptcy.
Q: Where do you see Hartley Social in 10 years?
A: Ha, this is always a difficult/awkward question to me. I briefly dated a guy in high school, and when I met his family, they (totally straight-faced) asked me to describe my life plan in three words. I responded with “total world domination”. The same applies to HS. But, in reality, brand/business development is my favorite part of being a business owner, so I see that goal constantly evolving.
Q: When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
A: I think it was a part of my personality from the beginning. Before I knew what I wanted to do, I knew I needed to be in charge. Autonomy is one of my biggest motivators. The need to be creative is also there. I still struggle to call myself ‘creative’ sometimes, because I have this weird picture in my mind of 'creativity' as the loner boy who only wears black and paints in his bedroom. But, over time, I’ve realized that I have a practical creativity. I like creativity with purpose.
Q: What does Hartley Social do?
A: It’s kind of funny that I get asked this fairly often. From the beginning, I tried to differentiate Hartley Social. For businesses that are centered around the idea of building brands and creating content, it’s interesting how many agencies completely miss the mark with their own brand. You could take content from almost every marketing firm and jumble it all up, and you’d never be able to tell which content came from which firm. Here’s a shot of our staff sitting at their desks! Here’s a shot behind the camera! Here we are with a client! To be honest, it’s incredibly boring. Hartley Social is the antithesis of that. It’s important to me to create content that is entertaining on its own…content that has personality. And content that is HEAVILY branded. So, with all things, there are pros and cons. The con of the way I choose to represent HS on social is that it can be unclear what we do. So, to answer the question, we: define your brand (either build from the ground up or streamline, help you develop a style guide, etc.), create content for digital platforms (photo, video, graphics, etc.) manage digital platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MailChimp… you name it. Management also includes lots of interaction), facilitate collaborations with influencers (we find bloggers and other influential personalities to promote your brand), plan/host events, and more. I believe in a very strong, cohesive brand that trickles down into every aspect of your business.
Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?
A: This is another question I get asked often, and the blessing and curse of being a business owner is that it is impossible to answer. Lately I’ve been traveling a lot, so I try to make the days I am home (in Louisville) really count. Today, I started working at 8:30am. It’s now 7pm, I’m still going strong, and am on my second beer. My boyfriend is studying for the ARE right next to me. Tomorrow, I’ll be in meetings in Lexington all day. Working for myself, I had to learn that no one is going to be ‘on’ or motivated 100% of the time. I think the best thing to do is recognize that, don’t be too hard on yourself, and do what you can when you can. I have never regretted not giving up. Even when it feels like you take one step forward and two steps back, if you look back a month or a year from where you are now, you have progressed. It’s important to keep that big picture perspective.
Q: How do you build a brand that works?
A: I think the answer is different for every brand, but you can start with a really solid foundation. What is my goal (short term and long term)? Who is my audience? How would I describe my business/brand in one sentence? I think it’s important to define the concrete/practical things first. Then, I try to inject the personality of the business owners into a brand, because ultimately, your brand is an extension of you. Beyond that, make sure every choice you make is a conscious choice. Why are you using those colors? Why are you using that font? How does this photo relate to that photo on your feed? And don’t be afraid to evolve. If your brand doesn’t slightly shift occasionally, you’re not doing it right.
Thanks for hanging out!