Ripping the City with Amanda Mailey
The small business movement has blossomed substantially over the past few years, especially for business owners who are women of color. Adding to that list is Portland’s Amanda Mailey, a Filipina-American who launched her marketing and consulting business, ALIST, in 2016. In 2020, she made to the decision to dedicate her services—backed with 20-plus years of ad agency experience—to other women-owned businesses.
Two years later, in February 2022, Mailey took her diligence a step further, creating Women Supporting Women—a monthly meet-up for female founders to gather, network, and lunch. What she quickly learned is that in the current state of start-up culture founders and owners are being more intentional than ever.
“They're like, ‘How can I use local ingredients? How can I use a local business to do my packaging? How can I choose a woman designer to do my logo?’” Mailey says. “So these meet-ups have provided a place for resources just to connect with each other. It’s also sort of like a refuge because we are a specific subset of this city.”
In addition to the meet-up, Mailey crowdfunded more than $5,000 in 2022, which was distributed among women-owned businesses including Ice Queen, Mama Dút, Meals for Heels, and more (including payment for the meet-up lunches, which are free for participants). She recently announced the 2023 Community Fund, aimed to raise $25,000.
We caught up with Mailey to learn more about the organizations and businesses she cosigns, her go-to spots, and her outlook on the future of Portland.
Portland Monthly: Where’s one place in the city you can go to get inspired/clear your mind and why?
Amanda Mailey: The Pacific Northwest has a lot of places you can go to connect with nature, including Forest Park right here in the city. I live in Northeast Portland, which is like 25 minutes away from all the major hikes in the Gorge—I hike alone, or I hike with other people, or my partner.
What’s your go-to restaurant to take out-of-towners?
I know Ripe Cooperative just closed, but that was one of my favorites in my neighborhood. I've lived in Europe twice in my life, and I just really love how it felt like a European cafe. I was really sad to see those doors close. Next to them is Dame, and across the street is Expatriate, which has great cocktails.
What’s one of the most slept-on businesses/organizations in Portland?
I really do like Randal Wyatt’s Taking Ownership PDX organization. I don't know him personally, but I've been following him since he started it ... organizing volunteer work to improve homes and the value of those homes for Black ownership. In Portland, it's very common for people to be offered money for their homes [from Realtors and investors]—especially if it’s practically condemned—because they want the space and property. What Randal has put together is quite beautiful.
What’s one misconception people have about Portland?
The phrase "Keep Portland Weird" has always been interesting to me. I'm not really sure why people gravitated to that so much. It's not the "weird" for me—it's the ability to express yourself and how it's almost encouraged here. I think everybody's an artist in their own way, and I do think that there's room here to explore different parts of yourself. There’s this underlying freedom and acceptance.
What excites you most about the future of the city?
The population is growing and becoming more diverse, not just in culture, but in thinking. I think COVID exposed a lot of the ways in which our government works, that did shine a light that I think is getting challenged today, so there's a lot of fear. But I know on the other side of fear is love. I think we're in a really tough time now, but I'm really hopeful for the future.
Define Portland in three words.
Alive. Expressive. Open.