Haylee Collins is the utterly brilliant Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the disruptive and inspirational, Young Vagabond.
Fed up with the unhealthy focus on sexuality and image in glossy magazines Haylee and Co-Founder and Publisher Ashleigh Grogan decided to create the magazine they wished they could have read all those years ago…. Haylee talks to us about her values and the story of Young Vagabond.....
What are the values that you have always held personally and professionally?
I would personally separate them, because I will be honest and say that I haven’t always had the best work ethic! In my personal life I suppose I was raised with quite feminist values, I wouldn’t say that my mum was a consciously doing that but she is a very strong woman and in terms of being quite self-sufficient and standing up for your beliefs that is something I got from her. She is quite an opinionated and outspoken woman. That is probably one thing that has crossed over between my personal and professional life in that I have always stood up for what I believe and I am not afraid to be outspoken about my values.
In terms of professionalism, I’m a person that needs to be doing something I am passionate about in order to dedicate myself to it. I know people, for example Ashleigh the co-founder of Young Vagabond, that have a fantastic work ethic. No matter what (Ash's) position is, she can throw herself into her work. She is the person who will stay back late and she is extremely efficient at what she does.
Whereas I am the kind of person – if I don’t like what I am doing I won’t do anything!
It’s not really something I discovered about myself until I started doing what I am passionate about and released I was capable of doing so much more. The magazine and (its role in) empowering and trying to positively influence women, I felt that it was my calling.
I think it’s also that attitude of women being able to do anything, this is something that intergraded itself into all aspects of my life up until this point, without consciously associating that with being a feminist, or realizing that they were feminist values. When I was younger that kind of manifested itself in being competitive with boys in sport or academically, it was that need to prove that not just I was as good – but that all girls were just as good as boys. So that value of equality has always been something that is really important.
How have these values shaped Young Vagabond?
The magazine has been built completely out of these values, but it’s something that I would never have done on my own. It wasn’t until Ash and I met and we found we shared the same values and the same views that we decided to do something about it. People are passionate about such a huge range of things, at that point it felt like such a rare thing to come across someone who seemed to have the exact same values. We felt we were so aligned with each other.
It was the big novelty and excitement, as we were actually working together at the time and we were working in place with people that in no way related to what we were trying to promote. So we had this, sort of secret like affair, where we would meet up in the bathroom and discuss articles that we were reading, or things that were watching and how we were so outraged about it.
We joke about it, but the magazine idea was born from us being angry and dissatisfied with the way women were depicted in the media and the way they were influenced by the media in a negative way. As well as working together we were also studying part time together – it got to the point where we had complained about everything so much together that we realized 6 months had passed and the climate hadn’t changed. Other people on social media were also complaining and they hadn’t done anything to change it. We decided that, without any experience whatsoever, we needed to be the people to change it. We couldn’t rely on anyone else to do change the problems that we felt existed.
Has there ever been a time when you worried that your values could be compromised?
This really is something that we have to work hard to maintain. YV is built on 5 pledges to our readers. Because we launched through crowd funding (the idea of crowd funding is that people pledge money to your idea) we launched our campaign with these 5 pledges. (Watch the YV video here - it's gold POZIBLE CAMPAIGN VIDEO)
One of those pledges was to always hold us accountable. To ensure that we are always providing content that is authentic that is always promoting the values of the magazine. But a lot of the time you get into grey areas and I think this is always going to be something we have to keep an eye on.
One example relates to the crowd funding campaign. We were really lucky to have a group of girls who featured in the video and we did a photo shoot with them which also appeared in the first edition. One of the girls was wearing a feathered headband. At the time, when she put it on, we were aware of the issue of cultural appropriation and wearing traditional Native American headwear, and it was something we wanted to steer away from. (After some consideration it was decided that) that it was dissimilar to any traditional headwear and so we decided it would be ok. And when it came out we received some backlash from it. Things like that we will always have to be conscious of. (Because of what we stand for) we will always have to be careful to think about who we might offend and how can we avoiding doing that.
What would you tell the you of 5 years ago?
God, lots of things! Ash and I are very different people to what we were those years ago. Part of the reason we started Young Vagabond was being surrounded by women in their 20’s who had this baggage from things that happened to them in their teens or early twenties or whatever. And we are all damaged a little bit and maybe that is fine, but what we want to do with YV is negate some of that damage. By providing readers with the tools to get themselves out of certain situations. Myself five years ago had just come out of two really damaging relationships and instead of doing something great about it, it took me a good 12 months of partying and finding myself. It ended up being positive but for a while there I was pretty aimless and didn’t really care about much.
I would tell myself back then to try and find your passion sooner.
It’s something that we try and teach, if you have your passion then when things are not going so well (in other areas of your life) you will have your passion to lean on.