Rawan Hadid is the driving force and founder of [wherever] – an out of place travel magazine which examines the movement of people, places and things. She shares with us lessons from her journey as an entrepreneur, writer and an avid traveler.
You have a very diverse background. How did you get into the world of publishing from working in an NGO?, and how did [wherever] begin?
I wanted to convey the sense of travel for people who don’t actually go “home” after a trip - so many people now live in more than one place, and traveling is just another extension of their day-to-day. Even when you return to a base after extended travels, you bring something new with you, are often changed by the experience and therefore do not fully return to what was, as it was. The magazine is intended to be a reflection of that experience. I’m interested in movement, connections, transitions, and the general transience of the people, places, and things of the world.
What drives you in the day and keeps you up at night?
The state that I described above – it’s not a simple category of people that can easily be defined as an audience - so trying to capture it is not a straightforward task. I think more and more people don’t necessarily have a physical sense of home and often feel most at ease when they’re on the road. This is definitely the case for me.
Running your own independent magazine is grueling and it can push you to your limits. Print, in particular, is a very emotional medium, and it allows the experience of a particular writer in a particular place to be communicated very effectively. This is why I make the magazine. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of holding a freshly printed issue of [wherever] in my hands, the result of months of hard work. Making the magazine is both immensely challenging and gratifying.
Tell us about your journey through your ventures so far and what you seek to change in the world.
Honestly, I got tired of looking at glossy travel magazines that only show readers the inside of a resort or tell people about some pre-planned press trip where the writer had to shower praises. There are more sophisticated guides out there but I think it can be very easy to fall into the tropes of “best croissant” and “best burger” with most destinations. That’s not how real traveling works for most people.
I have moved around most of my life and my first transatlantic trip when I was under a week old. For many years I did not question or examine how this shaped my perspective—it was after all, my normal. But I have spent some time exploring what this life experience means and I think this reflective perspective, gained through travel, has helped shape the way in which I explore new destinations and how I think about travel and migration.
I want [wherever] to reflect the experiences of the heavily traveled and push people to think about the world as more than just a triptych of a) where they live b) where they vacation, c) bad places where bad things happen that they do not visit.
What practical advice would you give someone who is contemplating to leave his or her comfortable job to seek something more?
I don’t think that kind of leap is for everybody—you have to be very disciplined and very independent—It’s not only about having a dream and trying to see it through but about deriving satisfaction from a very particular type of perseverance. Practical advice? Don’t look back. Self-doubt is poison.
The media sees one side of a story, especially with regards to the recent Arab spring. Given your background, what are your recommendations for alternative sources of media for one to understand the situation in a different light?
I am not an authority on alternative media or the Arab Spring—I do think that there are multiple ways to get news and that traditional news outlets categorically do not tell us about a lot of the terrible things happening in the Arab world. For one thing, there are no reporters on the ground in places where atrocities are taking place. I do think trying to understand long-standing historical injustices and the many power players in the region are critical. It’s impossible to follow what’s going on without a good foundation in how and why the past is affecting the present.
Famous last words?
Traveling is not a checkbox list. Don’t let someone else tell you where to go. There are no top ten beaches in the world. Nobody should pick your top five cities for you.
We are inspired by Rawan’s vision of travel writing and keeping things real, and are proud to have her as Fieldtester, a group a group of inspiring friends that regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and travels to help us improve durability and design. Rawan wears The Sideswept Dhoti+Mobi Pomegranate, Size 1.