Old-fashioned authenticity is today’s digital Darling

By: Kaily Serralta

The inside cover of Darling magazine read, “None of the women in these photos have been retouched.” This rare message in a women’s lifestyle magazine made Darling stand out from other glossy options, and as it turns out, the sentiment was more than skin deep. But when Darling announced its transition away from print last fall, I anticipated an identity crisis. I worried that the move into digital would mean abandoning their countercultural stance and a surrender to Photoshop. But so far, I have been pleasantly surprised.

Over the past few seasons, the Darling team has turned me into a digital devotee by maintaining what I’ve always loved about the brand. And I’ve learned that authentic interactions with customers still reign supreme. Here’s how they made the leap from all print to mostly digital without losing their soul.

Kept customers at the forefront of the transition

In a letter that read like a note from a friend, Darling founder Sarah Dubbeldam noted Darling’s evolution into “a media company with a digital platform.” She took care to explain the reasoning behind the decision noting that the print industry struggles with rising production costs and downward readership. Darling was taking steps to reinvent itself to stay competitive, remain relevant to its audience, and above all, provide meaningful content. With this thoughtful message, the Darling team made me feel like an insider.

Delivered more of what customers loved on digital

Darling went hard on digital from day one, and it worked. They sent weekly emails filled with social-ready quotes, behind-the-scenes videos of photoshoots, and growcabulary—one new word to learn. By leaning into the best of digital, Darling enriched its print stories with new media. The long-format features turned into a click away from in-person interviews, in-depth podcasts, and all the digital goodies I’ve come to expect.

Continued to use print selectively

Darling is committed to making form factor choices based on the content instead of taking the one-screen-fits-all approach. While digital is today’s darling, print remains well-loved. For the right brands, both forms play integral roles in storytelling. While Darling no longer produces a print magazine, it plans to publish thought-leadership mini books. As Dubbeldam mentioned in her letter, this new vision for print will maintain the same aesthetic, style, and heart, but be more focused by topic.

Regardless of how a brand delivers content, authenticity is still queen. When brands engage and share their direction with customers, they reinforce a connection as genuine as untouched photos—something Darling knows a lot about.


Shoe-in healthy habits for thinking on your feet

By: Kaily Serralta

As a new consultant at 2A, I’m learning that thinking on my feet is a key part of my role. Now, “thinking on your feet” is commonly used as an expression to describe being agile in thought. But there’s also research to support a literal interpretation about how being upright and mobile improves creativity and problem solving.

All of this has me thinking, does my choice in shoes hurt my ability to think on my feet?

Put your best foot forward

In his New Yorker article, Ferris Jabar addresses why walking helps us think better. He explains that walking “promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.”

Given the leisure of my short, 15-minute commute, I’ve started wearing my tennis shoes to work and carving out time for walking my dog at lunch. The mental break rejuvenates my brain and mood and equips me to put my best foot forward on the next project.

Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight

Just as walking stimulates creative thought, so does standing. An abundance of articles and research have pinpointed the benefits of standing during the workday, which include getting a boost of energy (always welcomed after a solid lunch at Lost Lake). Since starting at 2A where standing desks raise and lower all day long, I’ve committed to bringing flats or low-heeled shoes to accommodate the ups and downs. When I feel my energy taking a dip, I fight back by standing up, opening the door to fresh, new thoughts.

Walking and standing at work has literally helped me think on my feet. Whether it’s stepping away for fresh air or moving my desk up to stand, I appreciate those moments of comfort that remind me to take care of my feet.

Got a project that could use some fast thinking or fresh steps? We’re ready to lace up and jump in!