The Power of Creativity
CALS alumna lands dream job
Savannah Johnson’s creative background is what sets her apart from others.
“My skill set has become very diversified, and I’m able to adapt to different positions and complete tasks in all these different areas because of my background,” she said.
The Moscow native, who received her bachelor’s degree in apparel, textiles and design in May 2019 from the University of Idaho’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, has embarked on a career she loves.
Johnson is the customer relations manager and a marketing coordinator for We Are Camp, LLC, the parent company of four different brands, including High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Windells Ski Camp, Seek Northwest Skateboard Camp and Milepost 35 Mountain Bike Camp. The outdoor company, located in Oregon, also has a non-profit year-round boarding school called Wy’East Mountain Academy, for which Johnson serves as the admissions coordinator.
In addition, Johnson is the youngest person to hold one of seven positions on We Are Camp’s senior leadership team — a unit that is responsible for making company-wide decisions.
Becoming a Creative Problem-Solver
Johnson always knew she wanted to work in the outdoor industry because she is passionate about outdoor sports. She grew up skiing and snowboarding, and also loves fishing, surfing and mountain biking. Her degree and marketing minor prepared her to be flexible in the workplace and to creatively approach everyday tasks and challenges in her new career.
“Studying design forces you to work with product briefs and within certain restrictions that help you learn how to create solutions,” Johnson said. “Design entails finding solutions for a problem, and that has resonated for me with anything I do. I try to find a path that leads to ‘yes.’”
Chelsey Lewallen, a lecturer in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said the apparel, textiles and design program is designed to creatively develop students’ analytical abilities.
“The most important thing to us in the apparel, textiles and design program is that our students come out as creative problem-solvers,” Lewallen said.
Johnson values the knowledge and skills Lewallen helped her develop during her undergraduate program.
“Chelsea would always say, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,’” Johnson said. “Having a creative background, we are taught to break things up and layer them in a way that makes sense. I’ve learned to ask, ‘What else can I do? What can I change? What can I innovate that will help the business be the best it can be?’”
Johnson completed two internships while at U of I that helped develop her diversified skill set. She interned for Target in a retail management position, and for Coalition Snow, a women-owned and operated ski and snowboard manufacturer based out of Truckee, California. She gained experience in marketing, content creation, photography, public relations, event planning and promotional planning.
At times, Johnson found herself struggling in school. She is grateful for her professors in FCS who showed her endless support and motivation.
“Savannah is a successful student because of her grit and her endurance and because she kept trying,” Lewallen said. “Even though she struggled, she learned, more than anything. And she took that knowledge with her.”
Johnson said she encourages students who might find themselves struggling in school to take charge of their own learning and to not be hard on themselves when things do not go as planned.
“If you want to learn something, be something, do something, go do it! We are our own worst enemies,” Johnson said.
Lewallen is a firm believer that if students show up on time, work hard, and communicate well with others, they will be successful doing whatever they choose.
“Even if what you’re studying in school is not directly related to what your career goals are, you will always pick up bits of wisdom that are going to carry you through and help inform what you do,” Lewallen said.
In the future, Johnson wants to open her own outdoor wear and gear company for women. She feels confident that her background in apparel, textiles, design and marketing has prepared her to successfully achieve her dreams.
Article by Jean Parrella, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Photos provided by Savannah Johnson
Published in August 2020