FarmHer: Making waves across Iowa

Guyler-Alaniz goes from country girl to voice of ag; Launches FarmHer photo project in 2013

-Photo courtesy of Marji Guyler-Alaniz
Kellie Lasack, of Oxford, was featured on an episode of FarmHer.

Growing up in the country surrounded by farmers, Marji Guyler-Alaniz watched cornstalks bend in the breeze and heard cattle lowing.

Her grandparents farmed, and she understood firsthand the importance of agriculture.

Still today her uncle and cousins operate a farm in north-central Iowa near Webster City. She also loved being involved in 4-H, but a career in agriculture never once crossed her mind.

“It wasn’t even something on my radar. It just happened,” she said.

Guyler-Alaniz studied graphic design, journalism and photography in college and after graduation, she worked for a publishing company embedded in none other than agriculture. In 2013, she decided she was ready for a change, and while watching a Superbowl commercial, she heard Paul Harvey voice over that “God made a farmer” while touting Dodge Ram trucks.

“That was what tipped it all off. Shortly thereafter I read an article in the Register that talked about the most popular commercial of the Superbowl, and it highlighted agriculture, but I realized there weren’t any women pictured in that commercial or anywhere else for that matter,” Guyler-Alaniz said. “That made me realize that I had just spent 11 years in the industry and I could honestly say I hadn’t seen hardly any women. Their visibility was low. That’s what inspired me to start a photo project.”

In April 2013, she launched FarmHer, a photo project depicting women in Iowa. That graduated to a website and social media accounts, which sparked national press and inspired Guyler-Alaniz to ride that train as far as it could go.

“I asked myself, ‘How do I keep this going and how do I make it real and long-term.’ So I created a business plan, started selling merchandise, did some public speaking and the ball kept on rolling. I added in some ticketed events for women called ‘Grow,’ and our audience online and in person just continued to grow,” she said.

In late 2015, Gulyer-Alaniz was contacted by RFD TV, which jumpstarted the TV show that began airing in the fall of 2016.

“We were able to really reach a much broader audience on a consistent basis with a 30-minute weekly television show. We had the potential to reach 50 million households across the country, and that’s when everything picked up steam. We wanted to make enough to pay the bills, but I wasn’t even an employee earning anything. At that point, I became an employee; we added another employee and our social media continued to grow,” she said.

In 2018, FarmHer was inspired to start a podcast that morphed into a Sirius XM radio show. There regularly are thousands of downloads of the podcasts and 36 million people reached every week through the radio show.

“We were finding the best places to share these women’s stories. Now we’re in our fourth season on TV and have great advertiser support. We’re in our third season of the radio show and podcast. We have great audiences and we have to make sure we keep them growing,” Gulyer-Alaniz said.

The magic behind FarmHer’s success are the women who share their stories.

“Whether you’re a farmer, journalist, photographer, whatever, it’s the women who fuel this. We continually hear, ‘Hey thank you, because this is hard some days and I really appreciate the fact that you’re taking the time and telling these stories that wouldn’t be told,'” Gulyer-Alaniz said. “When I publish on the Facebook page, people thank us because it’s their lives and it matters to them. There is so much validity in telling the story of an everyday person.”

Looking ahead, FarmHer and its mastermind plan to continue expanding the audiences, as well as the platforms.

“Rancher is very different from farming and we’re working Cowboy Channel to produce a TV show around women. There’s some pretty amazing stories to tell out there and only 24 hours in the day,” she said.


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