Hardly bows to teen readers

A new online-only magazine for Canadian teen girls seeks to fill a niche where YM once stood.

Reading YM magazine used to be a rite of passage for teenage girls, especially the embarrassing stories section, which was a window into other girls’ lives that were somehow more awkward than your own.

It’s in this legacy that Hardly, a new online-only magazine for teen girls, arrives this week on computer screens across the country. Targeting girls between the ages of 13 and 19, the digi-pub will include feature stories on female Canadian celebrities – such as Stars’ Amy Milan, who will appear in the first issue – confessional, diary-style content from readers and sections about music, art, film and books.

‘We want to address the actual experience of being a teenage girl in all its glory and confusion,’ Laura deCarufel, co-founder, Hardly, tells MiC.

‘We’re covering style too,’ she elaborates further. ‘We’re just presenting it in a way that is less about coveting brands and more about self-expression and personal style.’

Hardly will launch this week with its summer edition, and will be followed by a fall and winter edition in 2010. In 2011, Carufel and co-founding partner, Jennifer Lee, plan to expand the magazine to six issues. Although there are no current plans to expand to a print edition, it’s something they both would ‘love’ to see, Lee says. Both Lee and Carufel are veterans of the Canadian magazine world: Lee is the former managing editor of Lush and Argyle, and the current editorial director of Filler, an online magazine, while Carufel is the former senior editor, and a current contributing editor, at Elle Canada, and has worked with Fashion and The Look as well. She is also the editor of The Style Notebook, a satellite site of Torontoist.com.

‘Laura and I both come from a print background and I think we’d both love to see Hardly in print one day,’ Lee says. ‘We would like to reacquaint the new generation of readers with print.’

Advertising opportunities are a little less than traditional, owing to Lee and Carufel’s desire to not have the magazine function as an overtly promotional vehicle for brands. Instead, they say, they’d like to integrate brands in a ‘fun, smart and unobtrusive way’ and plan to promote the magazine’s ad opps to educational institutions, camps, businesses with internship opportunities and summer camps.

Hardly will primarily be promoted via social media channels, promotional events – such as a recent benefit concert – and branded workshops and mentoring programs, Carufel explains.

‘We want Hardly to be interactive, so that our readers feel like they’re connecting with the magazine in a deeper and more meaningful way than just clicking through an article. Because we’re celebrating real teenage girls…our readers will be more likely to recognize themselves in the magazine. I think that kind of recognition leads to love, which leads to loyalty.’