Tara Baker & Arlia Harsell, founders of Dancing With Her, talk to us about how they aim to fill in the gap between wedding vendors and gender diverse people through their fast-growing magazine.
With no backing and no experience in publishing, dynamic duo Tara Baker and Arlia Harsell took the plunge and set up their own magazine Dancing With Her in 2017. Launched the same week same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, the magazine quickly grew, generating AUD 100,000 in income just a year post-launch. Today, running in both digital and print, and distributed to over 40 countries, Dancing With Her aspires to influence the wedding industry to be more comprehensive and accepting of diverse communities, particularly the LGBTQ+ one. The couple in life and work spoke to Hive Life about how a very personal endeavour initially created to celebrate love turned quickly into a growing commercial concern.
The idea for their magazine started when Tara and Arlia got engaged back in 2016. Making a start on wedding planning, they found no inspiration for same-sex marriages in Australia’s countless wedding magazines. “Arlia and I went to a magazine store that was three stories big and we couldn’t find even one magazine that carried a same-sex relationship representation.” Taking matters into their own hands, Dancing With Her, a magazine covering stories of women in love from all around the world, was born. Today, the team of two based out of their offices in Coolangatta, Australia oversees all content across their digital and print platforms, having made their mark globally from Japan to the United States and everywhere in between. “We have built a community around us of other couples who are in the same position. And, it’s nice for them to know that we same-sex couples carry the same struggles they do,” completes Tara.
For a same-sex couple who want to tie the knot in Australia, Tara, Arlia still think the progress is fairly slow. “When the votes for same-sex marriage took place in 2017, a lot of people still voted no. There’s still a lot that needs to change. The laws are doing pretty well, but a societal change has yet to happen,” says Tara. With discrimination still in place, wedding vendors and gender-diverse citizens have sometimes struggled to accept the community. “Australia being heteronormative is a big pain point for us. We need to start having more conversations around us,” explains Tara.
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The couple, who were newbies in the publishing industry, knew they needed a different approach in order to stand out. “We started off by working with a local printer and we used to pre-sell copies. Those pre-sales ended up paying for global distribution, which was an incredible start for us. We were able to sell advertising from the very first issue, which is something a lot of other magazines today struggle with,” explains Tara. Not afraid to shy away from topics that are particularly hard to discuss, Dancing With Her portrays itself as more than just your mainstream wedding magazine. “We share stories of couples who have had families who aren’t accepting of their relationship. We also share stories of people who are going through a gender transition. After all, it’s a marriage and not just a wedding,” says Tara who further explains how careful she and Arlia are when choosing prospective partners and advertisers. “Being a team of two has its advantages: we can make a change in 10 minutes. We’ve had a dream of having investors and people helping out, but that would probably do more damage than good,” explains Tara.
With an aim of going global since day one, Dancing With Her has made its mark in over 40 countries worldwide. “We don’t care where you live, if you’ve had a legal ceremony or whether marriage equality doesn’t exist in your country. We want you to know we care,” declares Tara. Currently working on their sister project ‘Dancing With Them,’ a social media platform that will share stories of gender diverse people, Tara and Arlia have got their plates full making the world a more inclusive place one day at a time. “We are trying to be a little broader in terms of celebrating everybody from every colour of the rainbow,” ends Tara.