“We’re lucky in Vancouver—we’re surrounded by mountains, the ocean’s right next to us, we have islands, we have everything. I’m taking a giant pay cut and working quite hard to get my businesses to where I want them to be, but the outdoors is my happy place.”
– Adele Ng
Red Bark Photography
Adele Ng had a successful job doing computer animation in Vancouver, BC’s film industry for over a decade. She liked the work, even though it often required long hours. But she also loves to explore the outdoors with her husband, Thierry Miller, and their Hungarian Vizsla, Whiskey. So, last year, she quit.
“I really wanted to see if I could control my own work hours, if I could move to the outskirts of the city, have a house,” she says. “My husband also worked in the film industry. We decided to take a long road trip through western North America for a couple of months, then come back and see if we could create our own business with more flexibility built into our schedules.”
Upon return, Adele put her energy towards the helmet accessory brand she shares with a friend, Parawild, and her burgeoning imagery business, Red Bark Photography, which focuses on outdoor products and private shoots with families and pets. “It’s been a lot of work so far, but it’s also been very rewarding.”
And that’s where you’ll find Adele when she has free time—hiking, walking, exploring the natural beauty of British Columbia and beyond. Most of the time, she’ll have Whiskey at her side. Whiskey, who is now four-and-a-half years old, has become an accidental social media celebrity.
“I was putting up pictures of Whiskey on Facebook every day and at some point, it felt like I was spamming all my Facebook friends,” Adele says.
“I didn’t even want to go on Instagram, but Thierry pushed me to make an account (@mywhiskeygirl), so people could choose to follow along and see the photos they wanted. I then had somewhere to put up her photos, which drove me to keep going outside and taking photos.
The account exploded. Partly due to Adele’s photographic talents and partly due to Whiskey’s charm, they’re now at 101,000 followers and counting.
“Whiskey loves photography,” Adele says. “I started taking the camera out all the time. If I tried to take a picture of someone else or another dog, she’d get right in front. She’s used to being in front of a camera and she loves being outside. It makes me so happy to see her happy—it really works out.”
Hungarian Vizslas are short-haired pointers—their coats are easy to maintain, and they have the endurance to walk 20km or more in a day, so Whiskey makes for a perfect adventure companion in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. While Adele and Whiskey do make a bit of money from the @mywhiskeygirl account, “We turn down a lot of endorsements because I don’t want to make [@mywhiskeygirl] into a marketing thing,” Adele says.
What Adele truly wants is to spend more time in the woods with her best friend. “Thierry and I have to walk Whiskey,” she explains, “she gets a walk three times per day.” When the weather is nice during spring and summer, they’ll camp in the wilderness a few weekends each month and go for longer day hikes several times per week. But even during the rains of fall and winter, Adele and Whiskey can be found outdoors, embracing the elements.
“It always looks worse than it is when it’s raining outside—most of the time, at least,” Adele says. “It’s beautiful when it’s wet, everything is more vibrant and there’s fewer people out. It’s so peaceful. We’re lucky in Vancouver—we’re surrounded by mountains, the ocean’s right next to us, we have islands, we have everything. I’m taking a giant pay cut and working quite hard to get my businesses to where I want them to be, but the outdoors is my happy place.”
Adele does have a few tips for others looking to enjoy nature. For one, always know your route, and if you get lost, simply turn around. Carry a means of communication that is guaranteed to work, whether a cell phone or a GPS device when going off the grid. Bring bear spray, bells, and lights. Understand the technical challenges you might face on any given trail. And dress appropriately for the weather.
“You need clothes that are going to stand up to everything that we do, especially with dogs,” Adele says. “I’m going out there knowing I’ll get dirty and sweaty and you want something you can trust and throw in the wash and wear it again and again. If you have the right layering it makes a world of difference when you’re outside. If you have the right clothes, that are comfortable, that you can take on and off as you heat up and cool down and the weather changes, with pockets you can use and reflectors to be seen at night, you’ll always be comfortable and ready for the outdoors.”
With appropriate attire and Whiskey at her side, Adele can now be found enjoying the outdoors, whatever the weather, most days of the week. She’s committed to creating her own happy place, and it’s working.