Former Bainbridge resident travels|
the world on
Johnson often considers her work a “working vacation.” The owner of
the OroAzul international business development company has traveled
to 32 countries around the world, visiting most of them as part of
her job. A self-employed entrepreneur since 2001, she recently
returned from the Maldives, where under contract with the U.N.
Development Program she completed a disaster preparedness program
for more than 40 upscale resorts.|
“I like to go
and explore as much as I can, and learn as much as I can (about
other cultures),” she says.
Johnson, who grew
up on Bainbridge Island, landed her first job overseas right after
college in 1997, for a Caribbean sustainable tourism association.
Since then, she has returned to the Caribbean many
After returning to the United States in
2001, she decided to take the plunge and become her own boss.
Although she currently lives in Seattle — to be closer to activities
a single young person may enjoy — she works from a Bainbridge Island
office several times a month and is also a member of the Bainbridge
Chamber of Commerce. She could work from anywhere in the world
actually, with her business set up to manage clients and projects
love being my own boss, deciding where to go and when,” she says. “I
love being able to be flexible and keep my door open to
Johnson has seen quite a few
opportunities come her way. Shortly after opening her business to
offer product development, marketing and environmental services, she
got a contract in the Dominican Republic to organize a sustainable
tourism conference. She decided to stay in the country for a while
to offer services for small businesses. An environmental science
major, she has used her knowledge to expand into the environmental
arena. And because a college internship taught her Web design and
graphic design skills, she offers those services as well. Johnson
sees herself as a true entrepreneur, always on the lookout for new
The work under the U.N. contract
in the Maldives is a highlight of Johnson’s career so far. Maldives
is a country in the Indian Ocean that has 1,190 islands — so
disaster preparedness is a big issue for the tourism industry there.
She delivered a workshop for hotel staff, organized a tsunami
evacuation, fire safety and other events. That was her third work
trip out of the country last year, and she sees a big potential for
growth. “I feel my foot is in the door, so I’ll be able to do more,”
During her trips, Johnson takes the
time to explore the land, take photos — she’s a photographer as well
— and learn about the culture. It’s a great way to make a living,
she feels. “I’m able to see and learn, and spend a nice amount of
time making a difference, and also being paid well to do that — sort
of like a working vacation,” she says.
is a “triple bottom line business” — meaning it considers people,
profit and the planet. She balances those aspects in her business
and tries to work with organizations that have a community or
One of Johnson’s recent
additions to her business is importing. Johnson keeps this side
business, Splash of the Caribbean, somewhat small but plans to
continue importing unique gifts along with her other ventures.
Through Splash of the Caribbean, she supports four schools and
neighborhood in the Dominican Republic. The imports — crafts,
paintings, jewelry and carnival masks — are sold at various stores
in Puget Sound including New Morning in Poulsbo. New Morning, along
with Pinecone Gifts and the Luna Bella restaurant in Kingston also
carry her photography.
Johnson hopes to focus
more on eco-tourism and international consulting as her business
continues to grow. “I hope to do more international work in new
countries,” she said.