North American Outdoorswoman: Julie McQueen
From fashion model to role model for the outdoor community, she dreams big and encourages others to do the same
Beauty opened doors for Julie McQueen (aka Jules) during her years as a fashion model, but brains are what has made her an illustrious suc- cess in the outdoor industry. She thanks her mom for that.
“When I was a little girl, my mom told me I could do anything I wanted as long as I was smart, and that’s all that mattered,” Jules recalls. “You have to be educated and you have to continue your education, whatever that means to you,” she says her Mom told her.
Many people are familiar with Jules’ story about teaching herself how to hunt alone as a teenager. In her twenties, Jules wanted to learn to fly and achieved that goal at an aviation school in California.
Having just reached the milestone of 40 years old, Jules has wisdom beyond her years, along with a job to be very proud of—president of CarbonTV, a media service offering premium video content for the outdoor enthusiast. But Jules is much more than that noteworthy title. She spends much of her energy empowering wom- en and youth to be in the outdoors, but her inspiration transcends gender and age. Jules is a beacon of light for anyone who wants to make their dreams a reality.
This is a story about an authentic, nomadic, adventurous woman whose life pivots on the values of hard work, crazy ideas and respect for all, including the animals that she hunts.
Julie McQueen, known to her friends as Jules, grew up in Oklahoma with two parents and three older brothers. None of them were hunters. Her family was in the military, so she was familiar with guns. She doesn’t recall a single moment when she realized her desire to hunt, but it likely came from her adventures and family camping trips in rural landscapes in Oklahoma and then Missouri.
In her late teens, her desire for hunting hit. Not having the money to buy books or magazines about hunting, she read them at a local bookstore. She took a hunter safety course, borrowed a gun, and sat down alone on the ground.
“I shot the first deer that walked by,” she said. “I’d never seen a deer up close. I walked up to the big buck. I assumed I could pick it up.”
Jules laughs at the memory of her naïveté.
That big Whitetail deer buck is still the oldest deer she’s ever shot. It proved to be a pivotal moment in her life.
“From that point, I just knew that something was passed down…something inherent…that lives inside of us that we don’t even know is in there until we experience it,” she confides. She felt that generational knowledge of the hunt flowing through her. “When it is that generational knowl- edge, it sparks quickly,” she said. “You just know that’s what you want to be doing.”
She kept learning and taught herself to hunt turkey with a bow and how to process her kills. “I didn’t know any other women who were hunting, which made me want to do it all the more,” she says. “I was making a lot of mistakes, but I was really OK with making mistakes.”
Then, Jules started documenting her path and sharing it with others. Because of her trial-and-er- ror approach, “It’s given me more grace and pa- tience for other people who are starting.”
She knew she wanted hunting to be more than just a hobby, but Jules’ path took many turns. She received her university degree in psychology and had several jobs, including being a professional poker player, a model, a baker, and finally, a producer.
“This is a pattern in my life where I see something that I want to do, and I just figure I can probably do it. If someone else can do it, why can’t I?” she asks herself.
Jules works out of an office in Michigan but doesn’t have a permanent address. She shares a home with two of her closest friends in Montana. “I refuse to live any- where,” she said. “I’m kind of a nomad. I can work from anywhere nowadays.”
Besides hunting, she does a lot of activities alone, including travel, but she’s always accompanied by her dog, Banjo. “I rescued him around 11 years ago and he is the smartest and most handsome boy in the world,” she says. “He is an American Bulldog mixed with a Mastiff. Banjo has never missed a day of work with me in all our years together, and he is registered as my service ani- mal, so he’s traveled the world next to me.”
SHOOT FOR STARS
Having the courage to dream big is at the core of Jules McQueen’s personality. She believes that the ability to achieve success is limitless—for herself and for everyone. Having a huge dose of curiosity has helped, too. “Being curious has led down some wonderful paths,” she says.
Jules modeled professionally for about 10 years, but she found that the fashion industry judges people quick- ly by their looks and behavior. “I chose to continuously come back to the outdoor industry because the people are kind,” she says. “They don’t care if your hair is messy or you don’t look a certain way. It’s so full of love and acceptance.”
Having modeled in front of the camera did help her confidence once she moved to outdoor-themed TV. She produced shows such as Brotherhood Outdoors on a regular TV network, but then jumped to a digital network ahead of most producers. In her typical style, she wanted to prove a point that it could be done successfully.
At another inflection point in her career, Jules wanted to move to a new show, but she was meeting resistance from male employees. She relays: “Because it’s such a male-dominated industry, they saw me as a weakness instead of an asset. I fought tooth and nail for that. I said, ‘I’m telling you, you don’t know your audience, and it’s not because of the way I look. I add value because a lot of these men who are watching want their wives to sit with them and watch this show, too.”
She proved the point. “It ended up being one of the most successful shows. Now as I look back, I’m so thankful that I had to go through that low point,” she recalls.
PRESIDENT OF CARBONTV
Jules describes herself as a change agent. “If some- thing hasn’t been done before, I want to be the first one to try it.” That is, of course, a great characteristic for an entrepreneur and a CEO.
She aired her content on CarbonTV before she worked for the company. They parted ways, but later she was brought in as a consultant. Then, after being hired, she became president within six months.
Currently with about 12 employees, CarbonTV is devoted to sharing quality stories on diverse outdoor subjects. Jules wears many hats at the company and is the host of Outdoor Weekly, sponsored this year by Chevrolet. The show is a recap of the most important stories, events, products and people in the outdoor industry for the week. One of her main tasks is to handle all of the content acquisition, and her long history of contacts is helpful.
“One thing I’m really proud of about CarbonTV is that we have, what I believe, is the largest collection of fe- male-driven outdoor content,” she said. “It’s because I’m going on 20 years in this industry.”
She likes providing the platform for women to tell their stories and to advance their careers and businesses. The one characteristic she values most in content is authenticity. “What’s really good content is if it’s surprisingly different,” she says.
Jules has her unique style for hiring staff, looking at their work ethic, enthusiasm, and curiosity.
“I like to hire people who’ve never done that job be- fore…maybe they are underqualified on paper,” she says. “I learn more from them than from anything I could teach them.”
Jules also believes that one of her most important business strategies was becoming more comfortable with herself. “If I’m not great, I can’t lead a great company,” she says.
Jules wistfully remembers when she used to be on the road over 200 days a year, and her favorite hunts are still for mule deer and turkeys. Now, more of her time is spent in her office with Banjo.
“Recently, I’ve made the mistake of turning down op- portunities because of my drive to succeed in business. CarbonTV is my family in a lot of ways, and I chose to make it my priority over everything else for a few years,” she notes. “I turned down hunting opportunities, travel opportunities, and probably also relationship opportu- nities in exchange for success. Now that my business is thriving and scaling so rapidly, I have to force myself to step away from it and say ‘yes’ to adventure when it comes along.”
With no children, turning 40 was a bit of a reckoning for Jules, she admits. So, what will her legacy be? She loves mentoring, especially to women and youth in the outdoors. She recently went with her brother and his three kids on their first camping trip. “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she says, noting “how they light up seeing something for the first time.”
Jules volunteers on the board of directors of Pass It On—Outdoor Mentors Inc., an organization that introduc- es youth to the outdoors. “I want to make sure every kid has that opportunity,” she says. “If someone had done that for me when I was a little girl, it would have changed the path of my life. I built my career over the years by a lot of hard work and by surrounding myself with the right people. I love knowing that some of these younger girls are going to take my job one day…and I hope so.”
When the time feels right, Jules will finish writing her book, which she’s been working on for a while. “Some- times I think of my life in book titles. Am I the only one who does this?” she laughs.
She feels her greatest contribution to the outdoor in- dustry is “the amount of love and energy I put out into the industry. Your love for your work shows through. I didn’t build my career in the outdoor industry by killing really big animals,” she says. “I built my career on having a lot of fun experiencing the outdoors and sharing that journey with other people.”
Moreover, she believes that connecting people is her superpower. “I enjoy helping people. I like to connect people,” she adds. “If I ask enough questions, I will find a way to connect that person with someone else who can be helpful even if I can’t be.”
Jules admits that she didn’t take this journey nor reach her successes alone. “My core group of women in this industry—and Melissa Bachman is one of them—we lift each other up and we empower each other. The more successful the women are around me, the better it is for me,” she says. “There’s nothing better than seeing strong women who are being that guiding light for the next generation. I’ve been very fortunate to be around a lot of empowered women. What’s that saying? Empowered women empower women.”
And as for CarbonTV, this powerhouse of a woman has got lots of new ideas burning away. Stay tuned!
THREE TIPS TO SUCCEED IN THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY
With almost 20 years in the industry, Jules McQueen has some advice for others wanting to work in the outdoor community. Here are her tips.
- Surround yourself with great Hang out with or hire people who are smarter than you or with more ambition.
- Know your When seeking sponsorships or advertising, “What you bring to the table is value. It’s a trade of service.”
- Turn challenges into During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, many companies stalled in place. Jules is a daily med- itator, and she knew she had talented staff. They took their downtime and created a side business called Carbon Unwind, a sleep and meditation app including stories for kids and adults.