Main Line Parent: Our Story of Building Community
Main Line Parent Founder and CEO of Family Focus Media, Sarah Bond shares how her passion for building a village resulted in running a company of creative women who publish two local family lifestyle magazines.
I was eight months pregnant with my first baby, thinking to myself, “It’s OK! I’m OK. Just think, this will be like a paid maternity leave with the severance package. I can even extend it a little longer if I want. I can get organized and be super-ready for the baby… take time to take care of myself, draw, paint… and maybe I’ll pick up some freelance marketing clients. I will be okay. Everything is fine.” I’d just been informed that my company was merging with a competitor who had Marketing Directors in New York, London, and Australia. I was pretty sure that they were not going to have room for the Bala Cynwyd Senior Marketing Manager. This was not the working mom roadmap I had laid out with my boss months ago.
Fast-forward five months. I was lonely and looking for my village, so I created a Facebook Group. I added the four moms I knew and within minutes, there were dozens of requests to join. Friends of friends must have seen notifications of this new group and soon I had approved 50. And then 100. And more kept coming! I sat back and said to my husband, “This is it! Everyone feels like I do – we’re all looking to connect, find friends, and build a village around us. No one is helping us find resources, events, and each other. This is going to be my THING! I’m going to make it happen.”
So the group kept growing, and I was thinking big: I started planning events to bring the group members together in person. We had an afternoon social at Barnes and Noble, I hosted coffees and lunches and Moms’ Night Out dinners, recruiting moms with babies and young children to join me at every turn. Every connection I made felt like a deep breath of fresh air. (I hadn’t realized how much the loneliness of being a new mom felt like I was drowning.)
My events became known for bringing together strangers to make new friends. From the top left: this Moms’ Night Out at Sola in Bryn Mawr was my FIRST night out since my baby was born. Lori from Music Monkey Jungle and I collaborated on a variety of small events. A local dance studio hosted us for a salsa-while-babywearing class. I partnered with The Yoga Garden in Narberth to host a special weekend Mommy and Me Yoga Class for working moms. I brought together a group for a stroller event at the Please Touch Museum. And I hosted a few “wine and book club” get-togethers at Silverspoon in Wayne.
I built this website and started publishing articles, positioning the project as a digital magazine, thinking in a far-off way that it would be A DREAM to eventually publish a print magazine. I developed a weekly newsletter, covering local family-friendly events and a roundup of the recent articles as well as interesting conversations from the Facebook group.
After I secured my first partners and sponsors, I kept planning small events and publishing fresh content each week, when I got the itch to do something BIG to give back to the community. I decided to host a benefit for The Birth Center (now Lifecycle WomanCare) to raise money for their Breastfeeding Support Group. I called it “Mom’s Night Out for Mother’s Day.”
My ambition took the reins as I told my friends, “We’re going to need to have a printed program anyway! Why not make a MAGAZINE in PRINT for the event?!” I researched and brainstormed and planned layout to my heart’s content. I made found enough sponsors to pay for the first print bill and tapped my network to interview and photograph compelling stories about local resources for families.
I met one of my dearest friends (who is still working with me today as our Content Director!) Pamela Badolato, around this time, too! She wrote an article on the best summer camps and activities for the first issue and then helped me with every aspect of growing our brand, connecting with our community, and achieving our goals. Somehow, we pulled it all together in the event, which became the Main Line Parent magazine launch party!
We entertained over 100 women with a fashion show and silent auction, raised $5,000 for the Birth Center, and successfully launched our magazine at this event. It was a great night — and attendees kept asking, “When’s the next issue?!” I knew it was time for more of a team. Together, we pulled off issue after issue, event after event! We raised awareness about local charities and non-profit organizations in need with food drives for the local pantry and sock drives for the homeless. We hosted an Ultimate Birthday Bash, and started annual Early Childhood Education Fairs, as well as Summer Camp Fairs.
As my network grew, I started to hear from more families in the city who loved what we were doing and saw a need for a separate brand to serve parents in Philly. The first issue of Philadelphia Family debuted in September 2013.
Our events, websites, guides, and email newsletters have evolved with time, and our team has changed too, as my friends and colleagues “went back to work” or found new ventures to pursue. Today we have an amazing team of creative local women who pool their talents to make amazing things happen!
After ten years of publishing magazines in print, in 2020 the Coronavirus Pandemic forced us to pivot back to a digital-only model, but our Facebook groups and Instagram communities are stronger than ever, connecting thousands of local families every day.
I would like to invite YOU to join our Main Line Parent Community!
Main Line Parent was created to connect families raising their kids around the Main Line and Philly’s Western Subsurbs with resources, events, and each other. It all started with our vibrant Main Line Parent Community Facebook Group dedicated to Building Community (join the conversation with our 30,000+ local members!) and our weekly Email Newsletters, which continue to grow with and support new and expectant parents, families of all ages and stages who are new to the area!