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Sarah Harrelson: Cultivating Culture Through Magazine Publishing

In the realm of art, fashion, and design, few stories resonate with the narrative of creation and resilience quite like that of Sarah Harrelson, the pioneering force behind Cultured Magazine. From her base in Los Angeles, Harrelson, a seasoned journalist with deep roots in the New York City magazine world, has charted a course that transformed a personal crossroads into a groundbreaking publishing venture. This journey, marked by both challenges and triumphs, showcases the blend of determination and creativity necessary to steer a magazine to success.

Harrelson's foray into the magazine industry was not predicated on a lifelong ambition to helm her own publication. Instead, it emerged from a confluence of professional experience and personal aspiration, coupled with an acute awareness of the industry's daunting challenges. The inception of Cultured Magazine was driven less by market opportunities and more by Harrelson's desire to fill a void in storytelling within the art, fashion, and design sectors. "I think if you work as a journalist in magazines, you don't generally have the dream to start a magazine because it is so incredibly difficult," Harrelson acknowledges.

Fran Lebowitz by Daniel Arnold
Fran Lebowitz by Daniel Arnold

The launch of Cultured was neither impulsive nor naive. It was a calculated risk, undertaken in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn, fueled by passion and supported by the encouragement of mentors and peers, notably Craig Robbins. Harrelson's venture serves as a testament to the power of belief and the importance of nurturing one's vision through the precarious early stages of a creative endeavor.

The transition from editorial roles to the helm of publishing was fraught with challenges, from mastering ad sales to defining Cultured's distinctive aesthetic. Harrelson's initial foray into this uncharted territory was a learning experience that underscored the importance of adaptability and intuition in shaping the magazine's identity and strategy.

David King Reuben Louis Vuitton AI
David King Reuben Louis Vuitton AI

Over the years, Cultured Magazine has not only stayed true to its original mission but has also expanded its influence and reach. As it marks its tenth anniversary, Harrelson reflects on the magazine's growth, attributing its success to a consistent editorial direction and an ability to evolve while maintaining its core essence.

With the future in sight, Harrelson is poised to explore new avenues for Cultured, including the VIP Culture Club, an initiative aimed at fostering deeper connections with the contemporary art world. Her optimism for the magazine's direction is matched by a commitment to innovation and a belief in the enduring value of creativity and storytelling.

Cultured Magazine Cover
Courtesy - Cultured Magazine

Beyond the professional realm, Harrelson's narrative is enriched by personal reflections, including the influence of her mother's entrepreneurial spirit and the grounding effect of her family life. Her story is a compelling reminder of the balance between ambition and humility, and the impact of perseverance and vision.

As Cultured Magazine continues to leave its mark on the cultural landscape, Sarah Harrelson's journey stands as a beacon for aspiring creatives and entrepreneurs. It underscores the notion that success is not merely about overcoming obstacles but about embracing one's passions and visions with unwavering persistence.

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Photo by Jojo Korsh


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