Meet Julia. Julia Weber is a Carleton alumna (BCom/13), marketing consultant and founder of Little Miss Ottawa, a local lifestyle and travel brand.
As a social media and marketing expert, Julia has successfully grown her brand’s online presence over the years; her Little Miss Ottawa Instagram account totes 34k+ followers.
With that kind of following, Julia has undeniable sway. And amidst the COVID-19 pandemonium, she has chosen to use her influence for good.
“My blog and brand are all about Ottawa and the local environment. Our small business community plays such a huge part in making Ottawa what it is. These businesses are the places we meet friends for brunch, the coffee shops we work at, the local shops we buy presents for our friends and so much more,” Julia explains.
“I’m so grateful to have the community and platform that I do, and I think it’s important I use it for good. COVID-19 has hit our local business community so hard, and I wanted to help out however I could.”
Her help has come in the form of free marketing support to local businesses, including brainstorming campaign ideas and new revenue streams and performing website and social media audits.
“With my background, I thought marketing help would be the best way for me to lend a hand. I wanted to help local businesses pivot their strategies in order to push through this. For some businesses, they needed a creative boost and guidance on immediate steps to improve their situation and reach new customers. For others, it was more about working on their long-term strategies to build resilience.
“In all cases, it’s been great helping these businesses and seeing them put everything into action,” she adds.
Julia has also been using her platform on Little Miss Ottawa to highlight and promote local businesses and share information about how we can collectively support them.
“I know it’s a tough time right now,” she says, “but even a positive review, follow or comment can go a long way to help. It’s been so powerful to see the community come together and support our small businesses.”
Ever ambitious, Julia’s goal was to help one new business per day. And amazingly, she’s done just that.
“Since April 8, I’ve provided marketing support or publicity on Little Miss Ottawa for one business per day,” Julia shares. “The feedback from businesses has been incredible. It’s been so rewarding to see our ideas come to life and to hear that my recommendations are helping. Many businesses have been able to improve their platforms to reach their ideal customers.
“It has felt really good to give back, and I’m already brainstorming other ways that I can help out.”
Thanks to her platform, Julia has been able to both personally help businesses and make a broader community impact by influencing others.
She explains: “I’ve also had a lot of followers that have been eager to help out our small business community; they’ve reached out looking for recommendations on take-out, shops and more.
“Although it seems simple, that’s actually a really great way to make an impact. If you’re in a position to do so, buying from a local business will really help it cover costs right now. Lots of businesses that can’t open yet have gift card options to use at a later date.”
Julia reiterates that there are many ways to support local that won’t cost you a thing. “Promoting (on your profile or via stories), liking, following and interacting with local businesses on social media, writing positive reviews and volunteering your time or skill set can all be super effective, as these things may help organizations reach new customers who can spend money right now,” she says.
Looking ahead, Julia is optimistic about the future of the local business community in Ottawa. Admiring the flexibility that many businesses have shown in the face of adversity, she feels that the struggles and lessons learned from this time will translate into resiliency as we slowly move out of lockdown.
“As hard as it is right now, I’m so proud of how quickly businesses are adapting and innovating,” Julia shares. “Business owners have had to think outside the box, and I think a lot of these ideas they’ve put into practice will continue past quarantine.
“I started Little Miss Ottawa during my job hunt after I graduated from university. I spent 8 months applying to and interviewing for jobs. At the time, it was stressful, but I can look back now and feel thankful. If I had jumped right into a job after university, I don’t think I would have started Little Miss Ottawa.
“The lesson here is that positive things can come out of hard times—that idea you’ve been toying with could come to fruition during this period.
Difficult times can really show us our strength and I think our small business community has shown just that.”
Interested in learning more about how to help local businesses during this time? Check out Little Miss Ottawa on Instagram and Twitter.
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