Colombian-born Joanna Riquett soon discovered her love of traveling after relocating to Buenos Aires, Argentina to study for a masters degree.
With the launch of her own personal blog to keep family and friends updated on her whereabouts, Riquett noticed an absence of other travel-based content that she was interested in online, and thus decided to cultivate her own. After relocating to Vancouver, Canada, Riquett founded Hayo Magazine in 2014, now a multi-purpose travel platform and online and print publication created as a source of inspiration for like-minded travelers. “Hayo is a travel platform for the hip, creative, and comfort traveler,” Riquett shares. “On Hayo, you can find inspiring and useful editorial content through our online or print magazine, you can get a personalized itinerary and access our database of knowledge of the cool, trendy, and new things to experience in a city, or you can even join us on one of the unique curated travel experiences we’re hosting.”
As Hayo continues to evolve into an experiential brand, the platform hopes to offer something for every travel lover. Hayo’s most recent endeavor centers on offering experiential trips throughout Latin and South America that allow travelers to revel in local cultures and traditions, with trips planned to Mexico and Colombia in the coming months. Through Hayo’s travel experiences, travelers will be immersed in each place and take part in incredible excursions, experiencing each destination as a local.
Riquett has always been intrigued by a destination’s creative scene and artistic culture. With Hayo’s experiences, she hopes to allow fellow travelers to take part in the same captivating experiences she always seeks out. This coming fall you can join Hayo for an immersive Day of the Dead experience in the extraordinary San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Travelers with Hayo will delight in local food, mezcal tastings, horseback riding, and dance celebrations long into the night in celebration of the culturally rich annual festival.
We spoke with Riquett about her journey with Hayo so far and her hopes for the Hayo brand going forward.
Can you share a bit of your backstory?
I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, where I studied Journalism and Communications and lived there until I was 21 years old. After that, I moved to Cartagena and soon after to Buenos Aires to study. It was then that a passion for travel ensued. While I was in Buenos Aires, I tried to travel as much as I could with a student budget. I started my first blog in Spanish of my travel anecdotes with no further intention than to share my whereabouts with friends and family, but travel soon became something that resonated with me. It was after I moved to Vancouver that I founded Hayo, which was initially conceived as a travel magazine but slowly evolved to the platform it is today.
What is Hayo and what inspired you to found it?
When I was traveling and pitching stories, I found myself pitching the same type of content over and over again. However, I could never easily find the information I wanted when visiting a place. I always had questions like, “What kind of things can I do involving creativity?”, and “Who are the artisans telling the story of the communities?” So Hayo became the place that gathered voices to create and share content that we felt inspired to write and read.
Before I started Hayo, I had always worked for other people, so this was my first hand at being an entrepreneur. I had no idea what I was getting into, yet what I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself through the process of entrepreneurship has been far richer than what any school or job ever taught me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the possibilities and the million directions I could go on one project or idea, but I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by experienced mentors that have helped me stay on course. It can be overwhelming because the travel industry is ever-evolving. I’ve learned to watch for trends and adapt to them so Hayo doesn’t get left behind.
Of all the places you’ve traveled, which has had the most impact on you?
Two places come to mind: Israel and Colombia. The first time I went to the Middle East was to Israel two and a half years ago. This trip was especially impactful because I learned about the complex and delicate issues this region has faced. I had known nothing but stereotypes about that part of the world, and being there opened my mind to question what I think to know about a place and to understand the context and people before passing any judgement. Those are lessons that I live by now. As for Colombia, the more I travel throughout my country, the more amazed I am by the beauty and the cultural richness of it. I can’t wait to show the world what Colombians are all about.
What is the one place you’ve always wanted to visit but still have yet to?
Georgia (the country). I’ve been seeing and reading about the powerful creative community that is on the rise there, and I’m dying to go see it myself. I have a long list of places to go, but I think Georgia is at the top of it.
Can you share a bit more about your involvement with the Cadillac Challenge and how this has had an impact on your life?
Last year, Cadillac Canada called me to be part of their What Drives Her program that highlights women entrepreneurs. After that program ended, they invited me to join their Dare Greatly challenge, which is a series of events meant to push you physically and mentally out of your comfort zone. In September we’re doing an Adventure Race in Nevada and I’ve never done anything like it before. I said yes not really knowing what I said yes to, and now, after biking 65 miles for the first time as one of the checkpoints before the big challenge, I’ve understood the meaning of daring greatly. It was my involvement with this challenge that led me to take the leap at what I was feeling called to do with the Hayo immersive experiences.
We know you come to NYC a lot, what are your favorite things to do here?
I love New York City. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, but I like to take it in little sips. When I come here, I enjoy staying at The Williamsburg Hotel because of its artsy style, have a coffee at Devoción, which is partly owned by Colombians, and work from The Assemblage, which is also partly owned by a Colombian. I love The Assemblage because of its great programming, inspiring community, and focus on wellness. Afterward, I like to have a drink at Motel Morris ― drinking fancy cocktails at an aesthetically pleasing bar is my kind of thing.
What’s next for Joanna Riquett and Hayo?
Ah, the million dollar question. I had been looking for that answer for a while and got into a dark hole because of it, but I’ve come out! Now I’m excited to have found the answer on how to bring all my passions together: designing beautiful experiences, bringing people together, showcasing the creative community of Latin America, and continuing to travel to discover the stories that hide beneath the surface. I’m using Hayo as the platform to make my dreams happen, but it’s still a work in progress. For now, you can join us on our Day of the Dead Immersive Experience we’re designing and co-hosting in November ― I promise it’s going to be really incredible.