Telum Talks To... Emily Kelleher, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, WELL, Magazine Asia
Can you tell us more about your roles and duties at WELL, Magazine Asia?
I am the Founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at WELL, Magazine Asia (WELL,). We are Hong Kong’s latest digital lifestyle portal. We celebrated the launch of WELL, in December 2019. My main focus is editorial planning and creative direction, but I also oversee all of the business operations daily. I am also very fortunate to have my husband, Jackson Kelleher as a business partner. He is the CFO of WELL, focusing mainly on finance and business development.
Tell us more about WELL, and what makes it stand out from the competitive lifestyle media publication?
We hope to inspire our readers with our unique and in-depth editorials of people in our community that are living by values that we want to shine a light on. Our strength is definitely storytelling. That was the whole idea that sparked the magazine. My hope has always been to help create a platform to share stories about people in Hong Kong, from famous celebrities all the way down to the woman who is working at the wet market. In Hong Kong, there is a lot of glitz and glam, but it is not everyone’s authentic daily normal. Sharing stories of “regular people” doing inspiring things is what really excites me.
Each month we highlight different people in our WELL, “WHO?” section. We like to dive in deep and share life, unfiltered.
What inspire you to start launching WELL,?
I was initially inspired by this amazing city and the people who call Hong Kong home. Surrounded by such diverse culture and community it is hard not to be inspired! I have been very fortunate to cultivate a group of friends from all over the world. Many of us with different backgrounds, cultures and ways of thinking, all enjoying the same city and eager to build a community here. Within this community, I realised I was not the only one looking for a media outlet that I knew would stand up for their values and be consistently raw and authentic. It's hard to do, but we are up for the challenge.
At WELL,, we want to focus on the things that are sometimes more difficult to talk about and share content that celebrates people from all different walks of life. It is my hope that during this tough time the whole world is experiencing together and that WELL, will be the positive media that people look forward to. We hope to inspire positive change by highlighting a positive lifestyle.
Can you tell us about the editorial and freelance writers team in WELL,?
We have around 30 freelance writers, and the majority of them are based in Hong Kong. We try to keep a good mix of local and expatriate Hong Kong writers to share diverse perspectives. We also work with a carefully selected group of KOLs, and well-known guest writers to broaden our readership. I work closely with the writers to develop creative ideas into editorial across our eight vertical subject areas.
Any big plans for WELL, this year?
In response to COVID-19, we have had to restructure our events that were planned for early this year. We will step right back into event planning as soon as it is safe for us to do that for everyone. But ahead of that, we have been focusing our time on podcasts and video content. If you look at our website currently, it is primarily in text format. We are so excited to start rolling out even more engaging content through podcasts and videos across a wide array of platforms. Our hope is to make all of our content easily accessible so that more people can benefit from it.
We also hope to translate a good portion of our content to Cantonese and Mandarin so that even more locals can soak in our stories and positivity. We have had to restructure a bit of our editorial planning as a response to COVID-19 as most businesses have, but this challenge has enabled us to take a step back and really think about the content that we are producing. We have gained a great sense of clarity during these uncertain times and are pleased to share that our content will continue to reflect this throughout the years to come. We do also plan to branch into other markets in Asia, although our main focus is Hong Kong for now.
What are your most challenging and memorable experiences so far with starting up WELL,?
The most challenging period was definitely the beginning. Having an idea is great but turning that idea into an actual business can be difficult. Leading up to our launch in December we experienced many ups and downs, and there were definitely moments where I wondered if it was the best time to launch a media publication. Now more than ever, we need a digital space that celebrates realness, and we can all benefit from more positivity.
Sharing real, authentic content creates another level of challenges from an editorial standpoint. A lot of writers are used to sharing things in a certain “acceptable” way. We strive to push our writers to dive deeper and shed the fluff, and because of this, I am always on the lookout for new perspectives and people with ideas worth sharing.
The most memorable experience so far was our VIP Launch Event that we held in December. It was such a great night where we got to celebrate all of the hard work leading up to the launch. We felt very lucky to be surrounded by so many supporters in our community and it was truly inspiring to see how many people were cheering us on and looking forward to our fresh perspective.
How should PRs pitch you stories? What topics interest you and your team most?
We are interested in working with local companies that are based in Hong Kong. And we want to champion those companies and support our local economy. Obviously, they need to be aligned with our values for sustainability, social responsibility, wellness, inclusivity, and celebrating diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
We are very flexible and happy to work with PR agencies to create bespoke services for their clients. As long as the ethos and values are aligned with ours, we are eager to get to work!
Email is the best way to get in touch with me, and I am always excited to receive press releases about new products, ideas, or events happening in Hong Kong! It is great to see things moving forward and I will always take a look and see if we can help promote things that we believe are valuable to our readers.
How does your day look like as a CEO?
It really depends on the day. I always start my mornings slowly since the rest of the day can fly by so fast. I really value my mornings at home with my children and try not to take any meetings or appointments before 10am.
Mondays are usually reserved for meetings and team zoom calls to get everyone organized and off to a good start for the week. The rest of the week can vary depending on what we are working on. Sometimes I am recording podcasts, shooting videos, creating social media campaigns, interviewing people, working with the strategy and operations team on tedious behind the scenes tasks. We are a small team - everyone helps out where they can, and we’re all learning new things as we go. Fridays are usually my creative days. I really enjoy writing when I have the time to dedicate to it, so I try my best to leave space for this once a week.
Sometimes I am working at night, sometimes I am working on a Saturday. There’s always work to be done so if I have a window of time to focus, I’ll squeeze it in wherever I can. Balance is important and I try to incorporate fitness into every day even if it is just a brisk walk. Sometimes your brain needs a break from staring at the computer and you just have to go outside. I feel so fortunate to be in Hong Kong where I get so much energy just from walking outside and hearing the sounds of the city. I really try not to sit at my desk for more than two hours at a time, even it means just popping up for a quick stretch every now and then.