How HiHeyHello Magazine Is Reshaping the Narrative of Women in the Outdoors
A conversation with co-founders Sierra Domaille & Juhee Kim on a changing outdoors culture, running a magazine during a pandemic, and more
Define adventure. For some, it’s snowboarding in the Himalayas. For others, it’s learning how to filet a fish. For Sierra Domaille and Juhee Kim, it’s starting a print magazine from scratch.
HiHeyHello Magazine is a bi-annual publication celebrating women’s outdoor culture. As a seasoned marketing and PR professional in the outdoors industry, Sierra saw a need for a broader definition of adventure that captured how women actually experience nature. Yes, sometimes that means gnarly backpacking trips in the mountains, but sometimes it’s just stepping into your backyard.
With a nugget of an idea, Portland, Oregon's Domaille went searching for a creative partner and met Kim in, of all places, a Facebook group. Kim, a New Jersey-based designer and avid fly fisher, brought her creative vision to the team. The result is an engaging and aesthetically on-point piece of print that's the perfect companion to a fresh cup of morning coffee.
Flipping through a recent issue, what struck me the most was how each story—penned by non-male identifying writers—expands, bends, and reshapes the category of “women in the outdoors”. In Issue 2, mountaineer Sarah Wolf shares how she uses nature as the creative inspiration for her ceramics business, and senior editor Sadie Quarrier shares her lessons leading a team at National Geographic. They are women in the outdoors, and so much more.
A year since launch with issue three arriving on digital newsstands worldwide now, we sat down with Domaille and Kim to better understand what’s inspiring them now, what stories they love to tell, and how they’ve adapted their business to the unforeseen challenges of 2020.
First off, what made you want to start HiHeyHello Magazine?
Sierra Domaile: A few things. First, we saw that most of the outdoor magazines were focused on vertical: climbing or skiing, or snowboarding. And for almost all of them their audience is about 85% men, so the content tended to reflect that. A lot of the stories are focused on the athletic feats and the upper echelon of athletes, which I think is really inspiring, but I think there's just like so much more out there. We knew that there were so many women owning adventure right now. Some are elite athletes, some are buying a van to travel around, some are hiking in their backyards.
Women are driving so much of the culture, making music and being creative, making films. But still, we felt like all these angles weren’t represented because women didn’t have control of the narrative. With HiHeyHello Mag, we wanted to show the true spectrum of adventure so that we could move from just the hyper-competitive hyper-athlete to one that's like, hey, just go outside and have fun. Plus, that way of looking at the outdoors is inherently more inclusive.
"I want women to be able to feel like they can express themselves in a way that is more multifaceted, because we all have different stories to tell."
What have been your favorite stories to share so far?
Juhee Kim: I like the stories where we talk to artisans and creators and get deeper about their process and pick their brain about creativity. Those are the most memorable for me, like in our first issue, there’s an interview with Eliza Schmidt who makes surfboards. I loved learning how she taught herself and learning from her process, materials, and everything else it takes to make a surfboard from scratch.
SD: In Issue 2, there’s an interview with Gabriella Angotti-Jones where she is talking about Black women surfing and rewriting history. And I just think that it was so timely. And, I think it brought up deeper issues around diversity and the historical context I found fascinating. The story is about how representation does matter—but it's not just about representation. It’s also about recognizing history.
Also in the first Issue, we featured Kari Rowe, who is an indigenous photographer. We featured her landscape photos and she wrote some pretty powerful quotes around her creative process and what it means to decolonize language around photography. For example, instead of saying “capturing images” she says “creating images”. I thought that was a really cool insight into how we can change our everyday language.
Why did you choose to launch your magazine in print, as opposed to online?
SD: Today, it feels like the whole world is just a quick scroll away. Especially now, I feel like I go from one chaotic headline to the next. We wanted a format that people could digest and sit and focus and learn and really read. And some of these stories just felt like they needed a longer form, which you can do on print. It just allows for more moments of contemplation and pause that are so hard to find online.
JK: It’s definitely a slower medium, reading a print magazine is like one step above a painting. I think people are yearning to flip through pages and to have something you can pick up when you want to get your mind and eyes off the screen.
Since its inception in 2019, what has surprised you about running a magazine?
JK: I had no idea that maybe half or even more than half of the effort is community building, especially on social media. We just wanted to tell stories, so cultivating our following wasn’t something we thought about as much until we launched. But now we’ve gotten into it.
SD: Yeah totally. We learned that you can do the work, but then you have to market yourself. And that takes time and effort. Building the community doesn’t happen overnight. The other surprising thing is just how many people have reached out and wanted to be involved, which has been awesome. It's always cool to see messages in our inbox with people just being like, we love what you're doing. How can I contribute or be part of it? It's obviously resonating with some people.
"We want to show the true spectrum of adventure... to move from the hyper-competitive hyper-athlete to one that's like, hey, just go outside and have fun."
What’s in the name?
SD: Well we wanted the vibe to be friendly and inclusive. That was most important. On the trail or wherever you are, taking the time to say hi is important. It’s a small, random act of kindness. But that friendly gesture can help people feel welcome. Hello is just the start of a conversation, and it’s basic human decency to acknowledge other people. So HiHeyHello is a way of saying I see you, you are welcome here.
What kind of change do you want to see for women in the outdoors?
SD: I really hope we can honor and respect everyone's different story. I really don't want women to feel pigeon-holed in the stories that they tell about the outdoors, even though it’s easy to do. I want women to be able to feel like they can express themselves in a way that is more multifaceted, because we all have different stories to tell. I’d also like to see more women creating their own stories. Since we started, we’ve been committed to always feature a woman on the cover and have that photo always be created by a woman photographer. It’s something where we put a stake in the ground.
What’s in store for the future of HiHeyHello Mag? Any changes that you are excited about?
SD: The pandemic definitely halted a lot of our plans, and maybe took a little wind out of our sail. We originally wanted to spend a lot more time getting people together in person, like meetups of women getting outside together. But that’s not really possible right now.
I think conversations around racial justice have been important for the outdoors industry. But still, we don’t know what is going to happen. Are we going to keep our heads down, or are we actually going to open up our arms and be more inclusive?
JK: A silver lining of the pandemic is that people are getting used to staying at home and slowing down more. We’re making bread, tending to our garden. And hopefully there's a larger place in that world that for print.