Accomplished storyteller, Julie Beun is a best-selling author, journalist, brand consultant, and public relations and marketing expert, with a belief that everyone has a story to tell.
Unwilling to commit to a career where she would feel stifled, at 21 she followed her boyfriend to Australia with only $400 in her pocket. After a metropolitan daily tabloid hired her as a young reporter, she learned journalism basics and then sharpened her skills when she started writing for People Magazine (Time Inc. in Australia), Family Circle, and GoodHealth. For twelve years she travelled throughout the South Pacific as a correspondent for the UNESCO Women’s Feature Newswire Service. Upon returning to Canada, she continued writing for Canadian Living, Homemakers, Chatelaine, Ottawa Citizen, and the Montréal Gazette. Julie is also the author of three books—Timing is Everything: The Memoirs of Sol Shabinsky; Arctic Kaleidoscope (Michelle Valberg’s coffee table book); and recently, Billion Dollar Start-Up, which has become a national best seller for Canadian non-fiction.
Julie recently wrote the foreword for an anthology of work by Ottawa poets called Love & Catastrophe Poetre, to be published in June. Julie credits her three decades of journalistic achievement by always being prepared to ask the right questions to get a great story. She has lived her life on her own terms, followed her dreams and is open to every new opportunity with optimism, joy and positive energy.
How did your birth story shape your view on life?
I was born in a hospital for unwed mothers in Hawkesbury, was regifted when I was ten days old and put into emergency care with a foster family. I was the first of twenty foster kids and the first of three they adopted. Everybody’s individual qualities, abilities and differences were celebrated because we were such a blended and diverse family. I was taught that every child needs love. My mom talked to me about my adoption but would always say they chose me because I was special and that I was not abandoned. To this day the guiding principles of my life are tolerance, diversity, and acceptance.
How did storytelling become an art you enjoy?
I felt misunderstood as a child and growing up in a large family your shared voice was not clearly heard. I had to make myself clear to be understood which was challenging. People fascinate me and I pay attention to the little things they do which I then store in my writers’ brain. In journalism there is a saying—show, don’t tell. A writer and good storyteller should be thinking about the details and noticing everything. We find the ordinary in extraordinary people and the extraordinary in ordinary people.
How exciting is it to see your latest book, Billion Dollar Start-Up: The True Story of How a Couple of 29-year-olds Turned $35,000 into a $1,000,000,000 Cannabis Company, become a best seller?
From 2014 to 2019 I was at the forefront of telling the story of two ambitious brothers-in-law, Adam G.J. Miron and Sébastien St-Louis, who gave me direct access to their journey in creating HEXO, a company that would contribute to the legalization of the cannabis industry. This book is my voice and 100% the way I write as an author and am proud that it is on the best seller’s Canadian non-fiction list.
What is your next chapter?
There are still multiple roadblocks and obstacles to come but I believe each one is an opportunity. This past year we have looked at a mountain of problems wondering how we were going to climb over it. For me, the material that created that mountain changes into the paving stones for a way forward. Use the resources in front of you to create a positive path forward and always walk towards the light. I believe there are two paths—the high road and the low road. I will be on the high road and if you cannot hear me down there you will have to come up.