Hana May is the Editorial Director of New York-based online culture magazine hearty. As a publication, hearty manifests as a site for news on everything from Pamela Love’s new jewelry line to birth control to Grimes’ pussy rings, provides stand-out features of musicians, actresses and cultural figures and the team blogs, a lot. hearty is a hot-bed, one-stop for information. The staff is made up of women who are situated all over the world from New York to Los Angeles to Vancouver to Toronto. Sound amazing? It is, but I’m also a bit biased because it just so happens that I write for hearty. So, Hana May is not only my co-worker and my editor who I look up to, but she has also become my friend. I have learned a lot from Hana. She’s a hard-working, career-oriented business women who knows what she wants and how she is going to get it. I admire her success and her visions, even if she is a bit bonkers rockers at times.
I decided to interview Hana about the online industry, feminism, her career history and the future of hearty (because I need to know what’s up for my deadlines next week.)
Why did you want to start an online magazine? Is it what you thought it would be?
I initially wanted to start an online magazine as a way of getting into print. I figured do the online thing get big enough to transition into a print magazine. Obviously this all changed for me when the industry itself changed and the focus became online. The initial drive to start anything though was to promote women in arts and culture and give women opportunities to grow and thrive.
But what about the work load? What’s it like to run an online magazine?
I never thought I would be chained to my desk as much as I am. I literally feel like if I leave my computer something might blow up.
I feel like that too. If I’m not on my computer, I’m updating my email every 15 minutes.
The speed at which people are consuming content on the Internet is insane.
It’s true. I feel like I don’t properly read anymore when it’s on the computer, unless of course, I myself am working on the story. That is very scary.
How did you get into this world? What’s your history in media?
Right out of high school I was accepted to a Broadcast and Media Communications program with a specialization in radio. I did a two year program and was working on air before I finished up doing traffic and weather at a small radio station near Vancouver. One time there was a high speed car chase I got to follow – that was probably the most exciting part. I then got hired to help run the summer promotions program in Kelowna, B.C. I drove their Hummer and a boat. You get the point. Then, summer ended and I couldn’t handle small town life anymore so I went to Montreal for journalism. I hosted a radio show there called The Reign where I played brand new non-commercial hip hop. I even interviewed Guru from Gangstarr and Drake.
Drake, before he was huge?
Yeah, but too bad the interview was as boring as hell. I then got asked to do a column about fashion, music and art. I started working as an editor for an online magazine. When I moved to New York, I knocked on as many doors as I could and finally landed an internship at Interview. I started hearty while I was working there.
So, that got you into blogging?
It was all so new then. I don’t think anyone understood the power of it all at that point. It was just people talking about their lives, which, for some reason, we thought other people, would find interesting.
I was blogging then. Remember I emailed you asking to write for hearty? I had never written professionally in my life. I was just blogging on “Fucking Diaries” and I wanted a start into that world. You gave me that start. You seriously taught me most of what I know about journalism.
Yeah. I didn’t know anything.
That’s amazing! I never knew that. You were such a natural talent. I’m honored to have you say that. That was the whole point of starting hearty.
Thank you. What are some things that are important for you to maintain hearty’s online integrity?
I’m really focused on visuals right now. The text is there. Of course, hits matter. I’m constantly looking at our stats evaluating what is working and what is not. I try not to let it drive my editorial direction too much because then we would be covering Snooki’s pregnancy every step along the way.
Yeah. The world is so stupid.
For example, there is a post on our site about baby otters and that does better than some feature interview we spend hours putting together. That is frustrating at times. I don’t want to play the numbers game but for advertisers you’re forced to on some level.
That’s so annoying and it goes back to the way we now absorb content. Reading an article about Heavy Cream is not as easy as watching a 10 second video about cute baby animals.
It’s like I want the whole world to slow down, but there is not much you can do about it. If you don’t stay at the pace of the pack you’re going to be left behind, especially when we’re talking online.
What about your team at hearty?
I love my team. I love that everyone is so unique and different. I think hearty attracts different kinds of girls and that is what makes it special. I think that’s what various members of the team were attracted too in the first place. The new wave of feminism is really about embracing our differences as women. Just because you like one thing does not mean you have to like another and I think we’re seeing that in individuals and then like all the individuals of hearty make up a unique individual, if that makes sense.
In an acid trip kind-of-way, yes.
I’m not high over here.
Sure, Hana. What can we expect from hearty in the future?
We’re working on a huge re-design, which is super exciting. We’re currently in the midst of our June Summer In Training series, which got off to an amazing start last week and will be running through June. Noisey covered it last week and Opening Ceremony just posted the flyer today. And expect hearty swag. We’re currently making tees and hats and a bunch of other stuff, so the world can get down with the hearty crew.