The main customer base for BIE are organizations, specifically Indigenous organizations such as local bands. Examples include the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) or bands within the Secwépemc Lakes area. Sometimes non-Indigenous customers contact her, such as TRU or the Village of Chase, since they are looking for the connection to Indigenous communities and people. That is clearly Julie’s strength and skillset.
These organizations typically do not have the staff available to put time and energy into planning an event, and when it is added to an employee’s workload, it often does not receive the care and attention that it needs. BIE’s customers range from local bands with 50 employees to universities such as TRU with hundreds of employees. Her reach is focused on Southern BC and, more specifically, the Interior of BC (e.g., Kamloops, Salmon Arm). Through networking and meeting people, out-of-area customers might contract her services, such as an organization in Vancouver planning an online event.
Julie notices that the Indigenous organizations that are her customers are looking to focus on connection, on family, and on learning. It is important to Julie and these customers that event participants feel welcomed and feel comfortable participating. The bridging of the gap between people of Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds is dear to Julie’s heart, and even the connection between bands.
The Village of Chase here, it’s surrounded by three local bands. So, if our band has an event, no one from Chase non-Indigenous will go to the event or vice versa, and it’s very separate. And even working with the local bands here, they have the same funding, but they’re doing all three separate events because they’re divided by the funding. I always encourage them, “Why don’t you connect with the other two bands and make a bigger event?” But because funding, there’s some restrictions there.
Julie stated that BIE gets the most business from, what she calls, the “Moccasin Telegram,” or word-of-mouth referrals between Indigenous people and companies. Sometimes people she worked with years ago, who have since moved on to other positions or organizations, will contact her about their next event. In addition, the organizations she plans the events for often promote her during that event, such as announcing on stage that the event was done by Julie John from Be Inspired! While Julie is still getting used to being publicly acknowledged, putting a face to the business and putting herself out there more will definitely help her business.
I am the worst at self promoting, but I’m learning to get better.