We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, what life experience do think has had the biggest impact on you?
It was the day I heard the words “Girls. Stay. Home.” I banged the snow off of my boots and tugged on my 1996 Sundance Film Festival lanyard when those words greeted me and stopped me in my tracks. I stood in the doorway to my boss’ condo in Deer Valley, Utah dumbfounded.
Did my female boss just say to me “Girls. Stay. Home?” Yes. She. Did. I was despondent, but I didn’t shed a single tear.
My boss, the President of the film division, decided to send my male colleagues to negotiate a movie deal for a hot film that I had screened that morning. My male co-worker leading the charge with me got to go, but she directed me and even more surprisingly herself, to stay home. I wanted to go. I wanted to negotiate. I wanted the win. I didn’t want to stay home.
But I did stay home. Like a ‘good girl’, I shook the ice off of my coat, walked in and focused on my work for the next day. I didn’t see another choice.
Through a non-linear path and a series of entrepreneurial adventures, I chose to live a life on my own terms and in alignment with my values. After leaving the film business, I moved to the beach, started a business, got married and became a mom to two amazing spirited daughters. I vowed to give them the opportunity to develop their own voices, no matter what.
I was a business owner before I became a mother. But being mom to Ella and Astrid has been my most important job. Though it hasn’t always been easy, being a mom has invited me to more negotiation tables than I could have ever imagined. Being a mom has developed me into a better business owner because it enables me to stay in alignment with myself. Being a mom and staying home has made me a better version of myself.
It dawns on me, did I actually live up to what my boss declared that day long ago at Sundance? Did I choose to STAY. HOME? Yes. I. Did.
I know it’s different than how she intended, but words are powerful and it’s important to me to honor that distinction and transform those negative words into a positive message of honoring my truth.
Most recently, with all the STAY. AT. HOME. orders, I am reminded of that fateful day in the snow. I see this long and winding journey to STAY. HOME. as one to be at home with myself and be true to myself. No matter what someone else – a boss, a label, a pandemic or Government order brings to me – I stay true to myself and my values, which includes caring for my community and staying home. The only one who can exclude me, is me. The only one who can abandon me, is me. I don’t do that anymore. And, gratefully neither do my daughters.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Absolutely! You know the person who’s ready to ignite that project or launch a new business idea, but is stalled to get it off the ground? Or that one friend who doesn’t seem able to complete the creative project that’s been on their list for forever? Well, I work with these “idea” people, and I give them the clarity, tools and roadmap to go exactly where they want to go with direction, satisfaction and the joy of DONE!
I launched this business in 2008 when the economy fell apart and I was knee deep into a remodel of our 1000 square foot house in Del Rey, CA. I had an exciting new business idea and I wanted to bring it to reality. Despite the uncertainty of the time, I infused this idea with positive action. I applied my producing skills from being an entertainment executive to help individuals complete project goals in their business and personal life. I quickly had my first client – a sustainable home project – then my second – re-organize a small production company even. I was launched, even though there was a recession! It showed me how to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. Now, twelve years later, in another recession, I’m grateful for the business I have – including living and working in that same Del Rey house!
Through business highs and lows, the common denominator has been that I am true to myself and my values. Which is why in early 2020, I announced the re-envisioning of my business, The Amy Johnson Company to focus on Values and Idea Integration. My core services remain project related, though I’ve added the lens of core values.
This work is quite beneficial for people who feel unsure about the next chapter of their life, and unclear about what’s next. I’ve talked to a lot of people feeling this way right now. I help them discover their own inner compass and use it to navigate life’s uncertainty and transitions. Ultimately, I help them turn the dial from confusion into clarity, chaos into connection – that stands the test of time.
I also work with business owners who know they are principled but secretly – and sometimes embarrassingly – can’t name or define their values when asked. I provide them with a roadmap and proven, specialized tools to maximize their personal and professional contributions to the world – that are just right for them. I show them a new way to see themselves, their families, work and community which improves their well being and peace of mind.. That’s exactly what happened for supermodel, actress and activist Amber Valletta during the last recession, when she hired me to help her with an entrepreneurial idea. We started by defining her core values, which became the guiding principles of a new platform and business that focuses on fashion and sustainability.
Collaboration; Connection, Sustainability, Integrity, Creativity and Gratitude & Grace. These are my guideposts, my values. If you don’t know your values, don’t worry, it’s never too late to discover them and reinvent yourself. Honestly, there has never been a better time for us to rely on our well-founded values to navigate our future, our business and life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When I moved to Los Angeles, 29 years ago last month, everyone came to visit. I loved giving them the full La La Land experience – Hiking in Griffith Park, Seeing the Hollywood Sign, and driving Sunset Blvd. I was 22, just out of college, working in entertainment and living on Gardner and Fountain in Hollywood. Now, when a friend comes to visit, it’s a very different experience. My itinerary would focus on different areas of the city I’d want to explore with her – and we’d take in the outdoor spaces, see art, visit the local shops and restaurants. Since I live in Del Rey, we’d start in our neighborhood which has seen a lot of new local businesses open. If it’s a Sunday, we’d walk to the Farmers Market at GrandView, or grab an oat milk latte at Menotti’s on Washington Blvd. Later, head to Abbot Kinney and visit Ananda, a local OG Venice store that my friend Lisa owns. We’d end our day at home, cooking dinner from our finds at the Farmer’s market with a stop at Ginger’s Homemade ice cream or Chocovivo – a perfect way to end the day. Another day, we’d explore Ocean Park in Santa Monica. We’ll take a yoga class at Santa Monica Yoga and visit one of Brook Rodd’s stores on Ocean Park Blvd, either Fun or Brooke Rodd and enjoy a delicious yogurt at Treats. The beach in the afternoon would be ideal and we’d head to Tower 26 to relax. In the evening, we’ll have dinner at Cafe Gratitude on Rose and later hear some music at Harvelles. Culver City is a must in our week long adventure. We will start at Stoneview Nature Center in Blair Hills and walk the labyrinth in the meditation garden. We’ll then head to a more urban experience and enjoy the many art galleries on La Cienega Blvd between Venice and Washington, like Bruce Lurie Gallery or HD Buttercup around the corner. Many are hidden off the beaten path, but well worth the visit. Midland is a gorgeous shop to visit along with the pop-ups and restaurants such as Loqui at the Platform on Washington blvd. To show her that LA is like many small cities in one, I’d take head to the ROW DTLA in the arts district and visit the unique art and shops there including Galerie LA, an ethical concept store. At some point during the week, my teenagers will definitely want me to take them to Melrose to go thrifting (if it’s Sunday the TradingPost will be open) and have boba at Alfred’s Tea.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Jacquie Jordan, entrepreneur, publisher and media expert has been a dear friend and strong advocate for close to 10 years. She inspires me to be me and put myself out there. I was thrilled when she asked me to be a guest on her intriguing and smart podcast about change makers called Front & Center. We enjoy sharing similar backgrounds as entertainment executives in the 90s with origins in the first state of Delaware. I grew up in Wilmington Delaware and she went to University of Delaware. She often tells me to “keep the nose of the airplane up” which is my reminder to look towards the light, not the grind. After becoming friends, I took Jacquie’s On-Camera Training Workshop and it was life changing, Not only was it informative and helpful – it was fun. She taught me what to do when the camera is on me! Being a producer for 20+ years, means I’m comfortable behind the camera, she taught me the skills and tools I needed to shine in front of the camera. Jacquie’s expertise in media and publicity have been invaluable to me in building confidence and becoming more visible. Jacquie has encouraged me to step out onto the center stage and shine my light. I’m so grateful for her wisdom, insight and beauty, inside and out. Jacquie is the founder and CEO of TV Guestpert, Guestpert Publishing and Front & Center Podcast
Other: I produced a series of four short films for L Studio with Amber Valletta called Driving Fashion Forward. The link to the first episode is under YouTube.
Jeff Lorch (Image 1) Greg Harris – Photo of Amber Valletta on Core Values page (image 8)