Portland advertising giant Wieden & Kennedy—the brains behind campaigns like Nike’s “Just Do It”—is trying on a new set of shoes. On May 25, the agency held a launch party for a new, in-house travel magazine called On She Goes. According to co-creator and publisher Dez Ramirez, the digital-first concept is written by, and for, women of color looking for travel inspiration and advice.
In its first quarterly “issue," On She Goes features podcasts, videos, essays, and guides to places like Tokyo and Lisbon, written from the firsthand perspectives of women of color. The ad agency is underwriting the publication (for now), which is produced by a Portland-based creative team of six creatives and publishers—all women of color, most of them long-time Wieden & Kennedy employees.
“Giving women writers of color who travel a platform that says ‘We want your stories. Just you—we want your stories,’ is a really powerful way to share their experiences,” says project editor Amy Lam. “It’s something that’s definitely missing from mainstream travel media.”
Each issue of On She Goes will be organized around a central theme. For this first issue, that theme is "We Belong Here," featuring stories like “How to Maintain Your Natural Hair while Traveling” and “Being Black in China.” A cascade of additional content scrolls down from website menu tabs including "Stories," "Cities," and "Travel Tips," offering advice on queer dating abroad, biking while brown, and even a POC-focused guide to Portland.
According to Ramirez, the project concept developed more than a year ago, evolving from conversations between her and several work colleagues—all well-traveled women of color who felt underrepresented by mainstream travel resources. Their idea also dovetailed nicely with the agency's newly-launched in-house publishing department.
According to Ramirez, On She Goes aims to directly address, and hopefully dispel, a deep apprehension that she says many women of color feel when it comes to traveling.
“Something that makes us stand out,” says Ramirez, “is that I don’t think anyone in mainstream travel media is looking to help break down barriers for women of color who have never traveled before. We’re very much ready and open to speak to that and elevate those women that are curious and wanting to travel.”
Right now, the platform is focusing on building its community of contributors and readers, but will eventually aim to collaborate with like-minded advertisers. The team doesn’t yet have a solid revenue plan in place, but hopes to gain subscribers and move away from in-house funding.
Ramirez explains that the inaugural theme of On She Goes aims to show readers that “they belong in any space that they want to occupy." The next quarterly theme (which is scheduled to go live later this summer) is still to be announced. In the meantime, Lam says that On She Goes is currently accepting all kinds of travel story pitches (published stories are paid!)—from tales of cross-country road trips, backpacking Europe, or even just exploring the culture in your hometown.