Debbie Ironbow

Debbie Ironbow:
Envision the Voice of Vision

By Elizabeth Maier

Reprinted with permission from
Eagle Feather News - July/August 1999 - pg. 18

Debbie IronbowAsk Debbie Ironbow if she wants to talk about her dream for a magazine geared specifically towards Aboriginal women and you will get an immediate response. In fact it's hard to contain the enthusiasm that emanates from this hard working, dynamic woman. Debbie Ironbow's idea for an entertaining, glossy, upbeat publication was definitely a timely concept. Encouraged by the positive responses to the growing list of newspapers and publications produced by other Aboriginal people, Debbie knew that there was a specific corner in the marketplace that she could fill.

Voice of Vision started with a dream. Debbie Ironbow quite literally dreamed that she produced a woman's magazine, and when she woke up she was full of ideas about what to do. She knew that Aboriginal women would be interested in a publication that would tell their stories and reflect who they are as women. Debbie looked at the success of many woman's magazines like Canadian Living and Vogue and knew that Aboriginal women would be enthusiastic about a publication that pictured their own lives.

Competing in a women's market, Debbie wanted to include the fun and "feel good" things that women everywhere are interested in. Voice of Vision would include information about make-up for Aboriginal women's skin type, fashion, clothing, recipes and a little advice about life in general. Important too would be the idea that Aboriginal women would see themselves as unique and special.

Voice of Vision also wanted to speak to the women who often might see themselves as not belonging and not feeling comfortable with themselves. By showing what Debbie (tongue in cheek) called "the average women" in ads; in the stories and on the cover, the magazine would help Aboriginal women realize that "we don't have to see lives as separate from mainstream."

The latest fashions, make-up tips, wondering what's up with favorite actors, musicians etc, are much a part of what concerns Aboriginal women as mainstream women. Future issues of Voice of Vision will include all of these things as well as "interviews with positive role models and special articles highlighting the contributions of everyday people."

It's not hard to see why Voice of Vision has the potential to be a huge success. The first issue was well received by the public. Debbie Ironbow is quick to point out however, that there have been stumbling blocks and difficulties with the business aspect of producing a high caliber magazine. She explained that lack of experience, and difficulties in obtaining financial backing have posed some stumbling blocks in her business venture.

Confident that she has learned from "some mistakes along the way," she hopes to see the next edition of Voice of Vision out before too long. Contagious enthusiasm, dedication to seeing a really great idea become a reality and general desire to succeed could put Debbie Ironbow into the role model category herself. She talks about "working towards recognition of women." She explains that," I always had to fight for the things I want to do. We've all had personal struggles... to succeed we need to push them aside and just do it... We need to take the time and look at ourselves... We have survived violence, abuse and come away strong... As women we have the ability to learn through suffering and we continue to love through suffering." To Debbie this is the measure of success.

It appears that Voice of Vision as a business venture has all the right criteria to become a success. Given the opportunity to overcome and rectify some of the initial obstacles, Debbie Ironbow will have a chance to see her Voice of Vision become a reality. Support for ideas like Debbie Ironbow's and other Aboriginal people as they take on the world of promoting their businesses, profit and loss and market shares deserve our trust, support and backing. Lets all do what we can to see that they have a better chance and that they succeed. We'll all be better off if we do!

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