Jim Hickey’s Youtuber daughter Sally Jo is stealing the spotlight

Jim Hickey is used to getting approached by fans, but now his daughter Sally Jo is the one attracting all the attention!
Jim Hickey, Sally JoWoman's Day

Jim Hickey is a familiar face around his hometown of New Plymouth, but when the retired weatherman walks down the main street with his daughter Sally, it’s the beautiful blonde who gets the most attention.

The 23-year-old internet sensation shares beauty videos online under the name Sally Jo and has over 200,000 followers on YouTube. From the comfort of the Taranaki home she shares with boyfriend Tama Simanke, 22, she earns a living from the advertising placed on her videos and social-media posts sponsored by brands.

“I’m just the old analogue guy,” laughs 67-year-old Jim. “Sally has young girls who just rush her and mob her. It was never like that for me – it was just a few autographs, a selfie and I was on my way!”

Sally uploaded her first video in 2013, while in high school, and her most popular post has racked up a staggering 650,000 views in less than two years.

“I had absolutely no idea you could make a business out of it,” says Sally.

“All my friends were really sick of me harping on about make-up, so they told me to make some friends online. I put up some videos chatting about make-up, but I had no idea other people would start watching them.”

Jim in action for One News.

Beaming at his daughter, Jim can’t help but brag about Sally’s work. “She’s got that Instagram close to 100,000 followers now too!” he boasts, causing Sally to blush.

“Look at him being a proud dad!” she laughs.

After 22 years as TVNZ’s chief weatherman, Jim retired back in 2014. The passionate pilot now manages a chain of Airspresso airport cafés with his wife Sue.

“I still get a lot of talk about weather everywhere I go,” Jim grins. “People ask me what’s the weather forecast for the day and I’m like, ‘Look, I’m not in the game any more!’”

Luckily, the winter sun is shining in New Plymouth for our Woman’s Day photo shoot and Jim is only too happy to talk to us about his girl.

“I’ve got three daughters and a son,” says Jim, who is also father to Becky, 45, Jamie, 43, and Emma, 41.

“I’ve always referred to Sally as ‘trouble-free motoring’ – she was just the most delightful kid.

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“I thought it was going to manifest itself horribly when she got into her teenage years, but none of that happened. She’s always very professional and quite visionary. There was no doubt that she was going to do something that she was passionate about.”

When Sally first started uploading videos, Jim was naturally worried and told her she should focus on getting a degree. “But, of course, by the time she’d finished university, the numbers on her channel had grown and she was getting an income out of it, so I reversed my decision,” recalls Jim.

He told Sally, “Forget about your degree and just go on with your YouTube!”

Sally never planned to follow in her dad’s footsteps, despite the many weather-woman jokes she heard while studying communications at the Auckland University of Technology.

“I was actually interning at TVNZ when I finished up my university degree,” recalls Sally. “But even the people I was interning with were like, ‘Wow, you should really do this YouTube thing because it’s so different and cool for those of us who work in traditional media.’

“I thought if these people are saying it, maybe I should just do it. So I took a leap of faith and began uploading way more. Luckily, it turned out well!”

“She’s quite visionary,” the proud dad says of his Youtuber daughter.

Sally is now signed with an Australian media company, Max Connectors, and her YouTube channel sees her travelling the world to product launches and events. But life isn’t all glam parties and freebies – there is also a dark side to social media.

“The hardest part for me has probably been to work past the negativity that is online,” she explains.

“It’s just me, and I do all of the editing, filming and lighting. I’m the one that has to filter through all of these unsavoury comments about myself and I have to try not to let them sink in.”

It’s a situation Jim can relate to. During his time as a weatherman, he copped his fair share of hate for rained-out weddings and failed crops, but he says it was nothing like what Sally has to deal with.

“It’s a different world now with the trolls,” he sighs. “They can be such nasty, ferocious people.”

But Sally assures us her YouTube gig is her dream job and most of her viewers are lovely. And with a supportive dad like Jim on her side, things are looking pretty sunny.

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