The path to success is rarely straight and even, but rather, the most authentic path to success is more like a journey that curves and bends and flows. Maybe the directions don’t make sense to some, but as long as they make sense to you, you will know that you are doing what you were meant to do.
As someone whose own career path has had twists and turns, it is always a delight to meet other women who have shared similar professional shifts. Emily Crowley’s path once seemed to lead to a future in investor relations or mutual fund management, but a trip to Italy turned into a two-year stint with Agrotourism, winding her a new path back to Portland, Oregon to co-found a series of farm dinners. Now she heads up Feast Portland, a four-day event that stretches the ultimate foodie’s gastronomical and mental delight.
Thanks for being a Wonder Woman, Emily!
Director, Feast Portland
What is Feast Portland and what is your role?
Feast Portland is the Pacific Northwest’s premiere food and drink festival (i.e. we’re kind of a big deal). No seriously, Feast is an amazing four day event that showcases the awesome talents of our local culinary community: chefs, winemakers, brewers, distillers, you name it. We also bring in national chef talent like Chris Cosentino, Paul Qui and Stephanie Izard. These guys and gals are the peers (and good friends) of many of our local heroes like Vitaly Paley and Jenn Louis and it’s fun to have everyone in town playing together and creating all the delicious events that happen throughout the weekend. As the Festival Director, I oversee everything that happens over the weekend; from tents and composting (super glamorous) to on-site sponsor activations and volunteers (slightly more glamorous) and even after parties (now we’re talkin’), I work with our amazing team to make sure the festival goes off without a hitch.
What inspired you to start your biz?
I’ve always gotten a lot of joy out of hosting parties and I’m the oldest so I’m naturally bossy. Events seemed like a good fit.
What’s the biggest moment of business bliss that you’ve experienced so far?
There’s a moment at every event that feels truly magical. When I was doing farm dinners it was just as the sun was setting; people had had a couple glasses of wine, the conversation got a bit more boisterous, toasts would happen. At a charity auction I work with it’s when the children from the benefitting charities come up to the stage and tell their incredible stories. At Feast last year, it was when it was all over…we were loading the last table out of Director Park and I remember thinking, “Holy crap, we did it.” If you’re doing it right, there’s a moment of bliss at every event.
What motivates you to keep going, to succeed in your business?
As a native Oregonian, I’m truly humbled by the chance to show off our amazing state at Feast, and I know that all our participants work really hard at what they do so I’m super motivated to make sure we provide them with an amazing platform to showcase their talents.
What’s your current favorite product/service that your biz offers & why?
My event philosophy is that I can’t personally talk to every guest that comes to one of our events, but every guest is going to interact with one of our participating chefs, winemakers, brewers or artisans so it’s my job to make sure that the event is organized, worthwhile and fun for our participants so that they can shine and have a great time interacting with folks. That’s the service we event peeps provide.
What’s one thing that has helped you maintain some sanity in the quest for work/life balance?
Running. Rosé. Husband. Dog. In no particular order.
What is one piece of advice that you have for other women pursuing their passions?
Don’t be afraid to change course. I started off in finance and I figured I’d be a hedge fund manager by now. But a trip to Italy changed all that (thank goodness!). It was also really hard for me to part ways with my first business (the farm dinners) but I knew that another opportunity would present itself and now I get to work on this incredible festival. Look before you leap (or at least glance), but change is always good.
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