Julia Browne – Could She Get More Niche Than This?

Open Jaw Exclusive – Finding Their Niche
by Martha Chapman

According to Julia, this picture says it all... She couldn’t feel more at home than in Paris. The picture was taken upon her arrival last week after the attacks.

More and more Canadian agents are finding their own niche when it comes to selling travel. But how small can your niche be – and still earn you a decent living? This week, Open Jaw will be chatting with 5 agents who are following their passion… professionally.

Julia Browne is based in Kitchener and specializes in jazz-themed tours. For black Americans. To Paris.

Could you get more niche?

Like many specialist agents, Vision Travel’s Julia Brown has found a niche that she loves to talk about. “I’ve always been a traveller in my spirit, starting as an Air Canada flight attendant in the 70s. I moved to France to do a year abroad program through U of T, and that’s where I met my husband and we settled in Paris in 1990.”

She recalls learning about African American history from a prof at the Sorbonne and became intrigued by the Parisian neighbourhoods which had welcomed black musicians and artists from the U.S. in the 20s and later. Her new hobby became a passion and she started creating and leading 1/2 day themed tours.

Now back in Canada, Brown still sells those Parisian day tours, often working in partnership with other agents wishing to provide a special theme in a French itinerary. She has been offering some 1/2 dozen walking tours, 2 bus tours and excursions outside Paris to, for example, Josephine Baker’s chateau in the south of France. She’s also started a tour themed around black soldiers during World War I.

Even the recent tragic events in Paris have not dimmed her enthusiasm. “I’m very optimistic!” she wrote OpenJaw from Paris, having arrived just last week following the attacks. “It’s true that these are trying times to be specializing in Paris and France, but I had already been planning to expand to several areas including river cruising, London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Italy.”

While the majority of her clients are American, she also works with British and Swiss university groups as part of their African American studies program. And, she says that she’s really pushing to increase her Canadian clientele.

“It’s thrilling that I’ve actually put this into people’s live. In a way I’ve added to their lives.  I know that might sound grandiose, but it really makes a difference. I love it!”

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