Los Angeles-based entertaining experts DeAnna Kane and Leslie Callaway are passionate about party planning, and wanted to share their tips and tricks with the public. When they launched Heart of Hospitality in 2019 to do just that, they quickly stumbled into a bigger goal: to build a community for people who love to cook, host and plan, but who don’t feel the need to be perfect at it. Today, their magazine features colorful images paired beautifully with step-by-step instructions on planning menus and more. But they also encourage readers to have fun, to laugh off inevitable mistakes, and to celebrate the act of bringing people together.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A with Kane, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
We go beyond what many magazines show their readers – we love that we can include some of our failures, to highlight that life is sometimes messy.
Once, while hosting a birthday party, the person holding the cake zigged while the cake zagged – and it fell to the floor. Instead of breaking down and feeling horrible about the situation, we laughed and turned it around. We share stories like this with our readers to show them it’s OK to have mishaps, and that you don’t need to lose your confidence as long as you control the atmosphere.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Just a few months after publishing our first issue, the entire country shut down due to Covid. Trade shows, events and conferences were all canceled and we had nowhere to promote our magazine.
We hit social media – hard. We shot some of our issues entirely in the backyard.Through it all, we grew an audience of thousands with readers in 22 countries! We have come such a long way from where we started: a few dozen subscribers, most of whom were friends and family.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
It has been difficult getting our name out there and getting people to know who we are. We would love a more extensive subscriber base to fund bigger issues. We have no paid ads in our magazines – we tend to give away free ad space for women’s businesses or those struggling financially. We would love to be able to expand that part of our business.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Finances are a considerable concern when making all business decisions. Much of what we do is personally funded at the moment.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Make sure from the get-go that you are in business with the right people. If you are having a bad day, you should know that your business partner will be there to encourage you. Our friendship is almost 30 years strong, and our business hasn’t gotten in the way of that. We both love what we do, and we laugh all day long when we’re working. When the struggles seem too much to bear, we pray and encourage each other to take that next step forward to avoid throwing in the towel.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Deep prayer and faith in God. We also have faith in each other.. When the dark clouds loom overhead and the rain comes down, we grab a cup of coffee and a warm blanket, and sit on the porch to watch the water clean the ground before us. The next day, the sun always seems to be shining. (Chocolate always seems to help, too!)
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
We have a whole playlist. We listen to a lot of inspirational worship songs, some Carrie Underwood, and a lot of 80‘s pop rock and 90’s country. We are a very musical office.
Who is your most important role model?
We love how publishers such as Hoffman Media, Magnolia, and The Pioneer Woman all tend to build a relationship with their readers while enhancing their lives and helping them thrive at home and work. We want to encourage women, and to be a fun and supportive resource for their daily routines. ◼