Hilary Hartling, Brand Synergist

Tell us a little about yourself and the road that led you to becoming a branding synergist and starting your business.

For over 15 years, my personal brand identity was defined as a film marketing executive. I worked with global entertainment brands including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone and Dreamworks and was responsible for leveraging the synergy relationships of The Walt Disney Company and strategizing and executing integrated brand partnerships with external tv and cable networks to market our film releases. I loved my job!

Then, I began to realize I needed to up-level my career trajectory and personal growth and I could no longer get that at Disney. After taking a nice chunk of time off, I decided being my own boss and leveraging my marketing and branding experience to make a difference for entrepreneurs felt purposeful and like the right next step. Now, I’m a Brand Strategist helping creative women business owners clarify their brands and create messaging that resonates so they can attract their perfect clients and create a business they love.

HilaryHartling041You work in such a creative field with so many creatives who are all looking for inspiration—what fuels your creative fire? How do you stay inspired?

First, I really love marketing and branding and if you give me a challenge in this area, it inspires me to find a creative solution! I also get inspired by the people I get to work with. This is why it’s so important to get crystal clear on your brand because you want to attract those “perfect fit” clients for YOU. When you do that, your inspiration never wanes and you end up working with amazing people who have a mission that you can’t wait to help them share with the world.

Other things that light me up creatively are: interior design and decorating, great books, nature, travel, writing and of course, movies.

Movies are about immersive storytelling, creating an experience for their biggest fans and delivering on those expectations in order to consistently draw in new consumers and keep their existing ones happy. Branding is the same; it’s the experience you promise to your customers and the brand stories you tell that make you relatable and unforgettable.

What was the biggest obstacle to starting your own business? What challenges have you faced, and how did you conquer them? (and despite the hard parts, how do you stay motivated? Or, on a difficult day, how do you push yourself to keep going?)


I think shifting my personal brand from movie marketing executive to female entrepreneur was one of my biggest challenges in starting my business. I had to decide to let go of who I was in order to go ALL IN on my own business. And, I eventually realized  that having my own business is the up-leveling to my career and personal growth I’d been looking for!

A couple more challenges as I started: offering too many things in too many categories and not being known for one main thing; believing I could make the money I was used to making at my corporate job; figuring out how to make that happen.

What helped with ALL of this? Mindset practices with daily affirmations, meditation and journaling. Being consistent with these practices changed my business for the better. I have consistent 5-figure monthly income, I clarified my own brand further and attract ideal clients who I love to work with! If I’m having a difficult day, I try to be gentle and kind with myself, spend a little longer on my mindset practices and sometimes just take a break (or a nap).  I love what I do now, so I’m always motivated to keep going!

What advice would you offer to keep other creatives from feeling overwhelmed by all the aspects of starting a business?

  1. Find your tribe. Get around a supportive community of other business owners who are on the same journey as you.  I found this with the Bossladies Magazine Work Sesh in LA, and I’m so grateful for it.
  2. Don’t be all things to all people. Pick a lane. Choose the one thing you want to spend all day doing and make that the brand you’re known for.
  3. Seek out the resources you need for the parts of your biz you’re just not sure how to DIY. Go to a workshop. Hire a coach. Outsource where you need to.
  4. Self Care. Be kind to yourself. This is a journey so don’t compare yourself to others who’ve been doing it for years when you’re just starting. They had to start, too.  You’re already amazing and valuable exactly as you are!
  5. Clarify your brand!! I can’t stress this enough. Being able to clearly communicate who you are, what you do and the unique value you offer to the right audience is the key to making your business work!

What have you loved most about this adventure in being an entrepreneur? What are some of the major successful moments that have made you jump for joy?

I’ve loved diving into this whole world of entrepreneurship that I literally knew nothing about when I worked my corporate job. Of course, you read articles about the most successful entrepreneurs and startups that really make it, but I really had no idea how many amazing solopreneurs and small biz owners are just crushing it and making a huge impact in the world in such a positive way. So inspiring. I’ve also learned so much about myself on my journey and feel like I’m personally evolving and growing with my business.

Some business milestones that have made me jump for joy:

  • Hitting and exceeding my monthly financial goals
  • Re-branding and updating my website
  • Attracting the RIGHT clients who I loooove to work with
  • Being asked as an interview guest on several webinars to showcase my entrepreneurial success thus far
  • Creating and promoting my first Brand Clarity Workshop in LA—the first day I opened my “shopping cart” on my website felt like such an official thing and I’m so excited to be able to teach and serve more people all at once—I can’t wait!

What do you see in the future for your business, and how will you get there?

The future vision for my business includes adding more branding resources for new and growing business owners to take advantage of, growing my online presence and doing more virtually like webinars and online group coaching so I can serve more people at once and make a greater impact. I also see myself writing a brand book with my unique spin on branding that pulls from all my career and life experience. To get there, all I have to do is keep taking steps forward and believe it’s all possible. And, start outsourcing more work by hiring team members in the near future.

What the best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business? What do you wish you had known when you started?

I’d look around at all the resources out there for new entrepreneurs and see what speaks to you. The first thing I would’ve done when I started, knowing what I know now, would be to hire a business coach for my specific field. I’ve had a couple different biz coaches now and both have been amazing and I’ve made the most progress in my business in working with people who’ve been in my shoes and have figured it out successfully.


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