If you were to describe Amy Johnson in one word, it would be FUN.
Born and raised in Portland, “just about a mile from where our offices are now,” Amy, along with partner Vanessa Wright, has in three years transformed a once severely ailing event into one of the top three award-winning annual pet events in Portland. This year’s NW Pet & Companion Fair happens April 12-13 at the Expo Center.
Growing up, Amy dreamed of working in the medical profession. And she did. After earning a degree in biology at the U of O, Amy donned her scrubs and went to work in a hospital. She soon discovered however, “It just wasn’t for me.” Still “super interested in science and medical” today, Amy says she still gets to live in that world, as her fiancée, Jeff, is a doctor.
So how does an aspiring medical professional become a producer of one of the most successful events of the year? For Amy, it was a natural. “My parents own a trade show and events company, so I worked there through high school, and then again when I left the medical field.” Amy knew and loved the Pet Fair, and in fact had attended over the years, being a pet lover herself.
In 2011 Amy and Vanessa learned the previous owner was going to cancel the fair, and they scrambled to pick it up and keep it going.
At that point the show was failing, and “it was hard,” admits Amy. It wasn’t long after the first event though, that their many hours of calls, meetings and repair work began to pay off. “People began to know and trust us, and finally, things began to happen naturally,” she says. “Where at first we had to call and do a ton of meetings, now, people just really want to be in the show.”
“We love being part of the pet community,” says Amy. “We brought in all the rescues, and that has been so great! After the fair we tally adoptions and results, and it feels really good.”
Good thing it’s running smoothly — Amy and Jeff recently got engaged, will marry in June, and are moving in July to Houston, where Jeff is doing a year-long fellowship. “I’ll be doing the fair remotely by phone and email, which I mostly do now, and I’ll be in Portland for the two weeks around the event. It’s only for one year, and I’ve never lived anywhere else, so I’m really excited.”
If you already know Amy, you know a smart, energetic, smiling 28-year-old go-getter. What you might not know? “I play the ukulele.”
Amy always wanted to play guitar, but it was such a big instrument to carry, especially for the frequent traveler she is. “I went into a music store in the neighborhood and there was a ukulele for $40. I bought a book, ‘Learn the Ukulele in 6 Days’ or something, and I read it, and got emailed tutorials for six days. I really like it, it has a sweet sound, and … one of the reasons I picked it up was I thought it would be awesome to play for Jeff at our wedding. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to!”
Amy did agree, however, to play it for you for this episode — enjoy!
And now, the shoe.
“I’m wearing the shoe at work today,” says Amy. “They’re light tan boots. I’m a Portland girl, and Portland is a boot city. It’s raining all the time … and your pants get wet halfway up your calf…. These are my favorite boots; I can tuck my pants in and I’m good to go. I just love them!”
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance, this year Dec. 9th at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.