Hailey Pipher’s Instagram bio reads, “Food lover, milk drinker, sort of a recipe follower.” If you’re still curious about Pipher’s dietary tendencies, her Instagram handle is @shelikesmilk, and her account is a living testament to the statement. With photos of cows, dairy-focused meals and merchandise with statements such as “Save water, Drink milk,” Pipher is advocating for the dairy industry – one bite at a time.
Pipher grew up on a 60-cow Jersey dairy in New York and was involved with many of the day-to-day activities of a dairy and helped her family’s ice cream business. She was active in 4-H throughout her youth and served as the 2018 New York Dairy Princess. Upon graduation from Cornell in 2019, Pipher spent some time working in nutritional sales and animal pharmaceuticals.
“That whole time I was working, I kind of felt like I was missing something,” Pipher says. “I was in this very high-tech, corporate, data analysis field and spent a lot of time reviewing scientific journals and studies, working with research, and I was really missing being creative. I grew up in family businesses, and we are always trying to create new things. I really missed milk promotion as well. I found myself trying to do those things in my corporate job, and that’s when @shelikesmilk was created.”
Pipher recalls conversations with producers that discussed milk marketing and promotion and realized how “fired up” she’d get in those discussions.
“It comes really natural to me,” Pipher says. “My colleagues took notice of how passionate I was, and I started to pay attention to that – it’s something that gets me excited and something I feel I was placed on this earth to do.”
Pipher built a blog-style website in 2021 with the intent to get back to her roots: milk promotion and being creative through food. She didn’t publish the site until 2022, as she felt some inadequacy about the idea. Pipher says she didn’t have a clear picture of where she wanted to go with this idea – all she knew was she missed advocating for the dairy industry and wanted to do something about it.
“I was having imposter syndrome and thinking ‘I’m not on a farm every day, I’m not a farmer – who wants to hear from me anyway?’” Pipher says. “I kept going through the motions of my career but couldn’t ignore the feeling that I needed to do something like this.”
With a leap of faith, Pipher published her website and began creating content for her food blog. Evenings and weekends saw her creating recipes and videos and learning through trial and error.
“I started a website, I started a social media page and I got over my ego of just having 12 followers,” Pipher says. “I was Googling everything – ‘How do you edit a film? How do you edit in Instagram? How do you use hashtags?’ and had to learn how to be okay with being messy and learning as I went.”
Around six months into the venture, Pipher had to do a little more soul-searching.
“I prayed on it for almost six months,” Pipher says. “I couldn’t ignore the feeling that I had to go full time with this business. I felt like I was underserving it with my hectic travel schedule in my corporate job. I decided that if I wanted to do this, I wanted to do it right.”
Pipher dove into her business and quit her corporate job to dedicate her time to @shelikesmilk. Within three months of becoming a full-time content creator, she has accumulated over 150,000 followers and over two million views on her social media accounts.
“It’s the most rewarding – and really why I do this – when I get positive feedback from a dairy producer,” Pipher says. “They are trusting me to share their story and about the product they make. For producers to tell me ‘thank you for what you’re doing’ is just mind-boggling to me – to get their stamp of approval of the work I’m putting out on their behalf is why I do this. It’s a big responsibility to tell the dairy producers' story correctly, so it’s very rewarding to hear that.”
Pipher’s conversations with consumers through social media have been both enlightening and empowering.
“I had a mom tell me she felt like she was doing her kids a disservice because she couldn’t afford to buy them ‘glass bottle, farmer’s market fresh milk,’” Pipher says. “And then she learned that she shouldn’t be ashamed of buying a generic gallon of milk. That’s what this is all about, dispelling any fear surrounding our industry or societal pressures of what families should be consuming.”
A unique aspect of Pipher’s advocacy is that she can reach other audiences in the food blogger space. She feels that this has opened doors for her, even though she isn’t a direct producer but rather an individual who is passionate about the industry and enjoys sharing the tasty products dairy provides.
Pipher has successfully launched a merchandise line celebrating the dairy cow and plans to create a home and kitchen product line that tips a hat to the dairy industry.
“Eventually, I’d love to open a storefront that celebrates dairy – cheese, ice cream, lattes, photos of cows – the whole nine yards. I would really like to expand and bring awareness to my community of the farms that surround us and create a space [where] we can all congregate and admire and enjoy the beauty of dairy.”
Pipher aims to stay true to herself and the dairy cow as she continues to advocate for the industry.
“I think the dairy industry is full of the most passionate individuals because we have so many emotions tied to it,” Pipher says. “We wake up early and bring the cows into the barn every morning. We have a cow that shows her appreciation for us by licking our arm. We see new life being brought to the farm. Those are all deep, emotional experiences that influence our passion. When people aren’t as passionate or interested in dairy, we have to take that fact into consideration – they don’t have the same emotional connection to this industry. My whole mission with @shelikesmilk is to create those emotional experiences and impacts for people who are never going to step foot on a farm.
“I want to create that connection to dairy through videos and photos and recipes. I want people to see a gallon of milk and think of the pretty cow picture they saw on Instagram. I want to showcase the beauty of dairy.”