Meet Ashley Herrin, Sr. Art Director and t.e.l.l. New England Co-Founder

Ashley Herrin, a Senior Art Director at Arnold, is also co-founder of t.e.l.l. New England, a digital magazine founded in early 2013. Now, 15 issues later, the publication is well-known in the New England area and has gained an international following. We sat down with Ashley to get to know a little more about her, the history of t.e.l.l. New England, and what the future holds for the digital magazine.

We’ll start off with a few easy questions – if you were sent to an island for a week and could only take three things with you, what would they be?

A.H.: Hmm… a camera, sunscreen and a trusty bathing suit.

It’s a random day in 1997 – what are you doing?

A.H.: Probably playing soccer. Soccer was life.

Where was the last place you traveled to?

A.H.: I’m hoping that by the time this is published I’ll be just getting back from a Memorial Day weekend trip in Tulum, Mexico.

What do you do at Arnold?

A.H.: I am a Senior Art Director working on the National Association of Realtors and Progressive Insurance accounts. 

What is t.e.l.l. New England?

A.H.: t.e.l.l. New England is a quarterly digital publication that focuses on the unique stories from New England written by New Englanders. We share these stories largely through photography, regionally relevant recipes, storytelling and interviews with local makers, artisans and entrepreneurs. Oh, and t.e.l.l. stands for “The Essence of Living Locally”; I get that question a lot.

What’s your role with t.e.l.l. New England?

A.H.: I’m the co-founder, photographer and art director. I shoot for recipes, features and interviews and I also do a little bit of writing… I don’t peg myself as a writer, but this magazine has given me the opportunity to flex my writing muscles. I also lay out the digital magazine, do all the back-end design for it, and run our social channels. It’s a little of everything, but I love dedicating time to t.e.l.l. because it’s important to me.

How did t.e.l.l. New England start?

A.H.: A photographer from New Hampshire and I met via social media in late 2012. We quickly connected over photography and found that we both had an appreciation for printed magazines – not your typical monthly subscription magazines, but those that are beautifully-crafted and well-designed, like CerealKinfolkand Gather. We also realized that New England didn’t have a magazine like that nor did any in existence highlight the region (most were focused on the Pacific Northwest or Brooklyn). So we set out to establish an add-free, image-rich and stylized digital publication… something we could take ownership in, and also build our photo and design books. I was working in Arnold’s Studio at the time, and learning how to use InDesign and lay out publications amongst other things, so it made sense to just go for it. We launched the website and the first issue in April 2013.

Do the issues of t.e.l.l. New England follow a specific schedule, or are they released at random times?

A.H.: Our first four issues were season-based. Now they are thematic – we’ve had “The Atlantic Issue,” “Cabin Fever,” “Dwellings,” “Mornings,” among others. Recipes, interviews and stories are influenced by the season in which the issue is being released.

Does t.e.l.l. New England have any sponsorships now that it’s been a few years since its inception?

A.H.: For the first year and a half, we did all the legwork because no one had really heard of us. But now, we’ve made connections in the Greater Boston area, and people recognize the magazine name so they reach out to us. And, brands have offered free things for us to post about or try – we are open to it so long as it falls within our brand (i.e.: locally made, small-batch items), but for the most part we consider ourselves an unbiased opinion on the region. Down the road we might be open to issue sponsors or advertisers, but for now, we’re still an ad-free digital pub.

Who makes up t.e.l.l. New England’s readership?

A.H.: Our core age group in 28-40 year olds, with 65% being female. A lot of our readers are (obviously) from New England, but we also have a lot of readers in Europe, specifically London. Our two cultures are very relatable, and our landscapes and regions are familiar to our European readers.

What’s been your favorite t.e.l.l. New England issue?

A.H.: Definitely the “Camp” issue, published in Summer 2016. Everyone loves summer, and when you think of summer camp, it brings back all these memories of being a kid and the endless opportunities that each summer brings. My family has a shack in New Hampshire where I spent all my summers growing up, so the “Camp” issue was a manifestation of growing up near a lake.

What’s next for t.e.l.l. New England?

A.H.: Down the line we’d love to open a store that sells purely New England-made goods. Sometimes when you think of stores that sell New England made this-or-that you think of those cheesy tourist shops down by the beach selling salt-water taffy and hand-painted wooden signs. It wouldn’t be that. It would be a well-curated shopping experience that combines modern goods with vintage regional pieces that relate to tourism, camping, outdoors, etc. It’s hard to put into words so we’ll just have to wait & see some day. Either way, in order for that to happen, we’d need to create a presence in the market before the brick and mortar, so we’d likely start with weekend markets like SoWa.