By Miranda Vega Rector of the CUJ
MISSION – Catherine Barkley and Iosefa Taula have started a new tribal owned business as co-owners of Mission Inflatables, providing bounce houses and water slides that are available for rent within a 25 mile radius.
Barkley and Taula have always been business driven and throughout the years, and while raising their children, they got their business inspiration from Little Tykes products.
“The idea started with our kids and getting Little Tykes bounce houses and slides,” said Barkley. “We used them a lot at parties and family gatherings to entertain the kids. We liked them because it kept them active and tired them out with physical activity.”
Both Barkley and Taula are very busy entrepreneurs who work full time for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and are both pursuing higher education. Taula, who works as the Operations Manager for Mission Inflatables, recently graduated with his Associate of Arts Transfer Degree from Blue Mountain Community College and will be pursuing a degree in Wildlife Management from Oregon State University. Barkley, the Business Manager for Mission Inflatables, is finishing up a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a Minor in Native American Studies from Eastern Oregon University.
Their business kicked off in June and they have been booked every weekend since. Linda Sampson, a CTUIR employee working for the Summer School Program, booked the inflatable water slide for eight set-ups.
“Linda says the kids love it,” said Barkley.
Because Mission Inflatables is covered with insurance, they are able to provide their services to schools, businesses, public events and families. They also can provide indoor set up and have already been booked for a wedding.
Currently Mission Inflatables provides services on the weekends and product availability is limited to one 21 foot water slide and one 14 by 14 foot Palm Tree bouncy house, but another inflatable is on the way and two more are in the process of being made. The expectation is that by next summer they will be able to offer 4 to 5 units to the Mission, Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Helix, Adams and Athena areas.
“We wanted to keep the business local and community focused,” said Barkley. “We saw a need in the area and it’s something we like to do, plus our kids love it.”
Taula and Barkley’s goal is to have Mission Inflatables be a family owned and operated business so their children are currently “in training”, Barkley said. They are teaching them how to clean the inflatables and how to set up and breakdown at each event. However, they consider themselves still learning the business as well.
“This business idea was a teamwork project with Sefa and I,” said Barkley. “There’s no way we can do it without each other. We’ve been figuring it out and it’s going good so far.”
Iosefa and Barkley want to specifically thank the community for all the love and support they have received. They also want to give a big thank you to their helpers Emiliano Delgado, Mark French, Wilbur Oatman, and all of their children for helping them get their business off the ground.
Booking an inflatable can be done at MissionInflatablesFun541.com.