We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Donahue and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, what makes you happy? Why?
Happiness, I find, is an emotion, not a state of being. It may be an unpopular opinion, but when I experience joy, the feeling of peace and elation at one time, it’s passing and it’s never consistent. For example, I love mountain biking. It’s the best thing in life, however it can drive me to tears. Clearing obstacles, riding along open, exposed cliffs, climbing rocky, steep pitches. It’s not really fun, I’m definitely not happy, I’m taking one pedal stroke at a time to summitt something bigger than me. The descent can be terrifying and push my stomach contents back up my esophagus. But I do it, and when I’m done, I’m better for it. I have moments of happiness and then I return to my homeostatic mood, which is generally half glass full. Instead of doing what makes one happy, I think finding joy through overcoming challenges, pushing myself through the doubt and fear and self annihilation; it brings satisfaction. It’s a dichotomy in all things. Babies make me happy, but they are also stressful. Puppies make me happy, but they can also drive me mad. Happy hours with friends can make me happy, but it can also leave me feeling lonely. So I strive for moments of joy vs being happy.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for the better part of my life. On my first try, I accidentally succeeded. It was a combination of ignorance and sheer luck. I founded a chain of massage therapy studios in 2011. Instead of building the business like another chain and having employees, I built it from the therapist up. We had a completely online front of house and each therapist handled their own schedule, clients, and payment. All of the overhead eaten up by a front of house staff, I transferred to the internet. This saved so much money, I was able to reallocate that to the therapists, giving them both the autonomy desired and the extra income. After I sold the studios in 2017 I did some brand management for local companies while searching for my next project. I started a voter participation brand that was incredibley successful. However, I learned that you can’t monetize a movement. Though BABE VOTE is a national movement now, I only lost money doing it. I learned that just becuase it’s cool, doesn’t mean it’s a business. While I tried on many careers after that (Brand Manager, Commercial Real estate, Massage Therapy), I knew I had another idea in me. In 2021, mid-pandemic, my ex-husband and I decided to develop a Food Truck park and venue. We moved across the country from Boise to Tucson and got to work. We cleared a 2 acre lot with an abandoned gas station on it and got a liquor license. From opening day, it’s been a hit. The community rallied around us to improve an underserved corner and give them a place to be. We have 10 food Trucks, live music, beer and wine, and games. We named it The Pit, referencing the condition of the property, and were first to market in Southern Arizona. Though, we are brand new, I suspect we will be there for a long time. In addition to The Pit, I also started a wellness clinic. Instead of employing a bunch if staff, I set up the space and brand that they can work under, all while just paying to lease their individual rooms. This has given 7 different women an opportunity to be a small business owner without the incredible overhead. I truely believe that most practitioners just need a little help with business end, no provider should have to sacrifice 50% of their income to pay for basic office functions. We opened in October 2021 and have filled all the rooms. I couldn’t ask for a better crew.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first thing I would do is take her to breakfast at Le Buzz in Tucson. Then we would grab our mountain bikes and head over to the Sweetwater Preserve to hit the trails. People can choose from green easy trail to blackdiamond features on the backside, Because mountain biking is hard and draining, I would take her to the pools at The Westin off Sunrise. Guests get free wristbands, but the public can purchase them. After hanging out in the pools to cool off with the poolside service, it’s time to get ready for some dinner. Commoner & Co on Kolb and Sunrise is my go-to happy hour place. Menu items are reasonably priced, but the ambiance is five star. Back at the condo, we would end the night sitting on the deck, listening to the owls and crickets, looking up at the black sky lit by clear stars.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a few people in your life that will always be your ride or die. For me, it’s my family. Not one person creates anything on their own, it takes many people to help one rise to success. It also involves a lot of disappointment and a tremendous amount of luck. Of course, there will always be the extreme outliers, but for most of us, we know we didn’t do it alone.