Age 32: President, New City Scenic & Display
Amy Davis grew up in Oregon, but as a third-grader, she wrote a report about Vermont — and New England has never lost its appeal.
She wound up studying Theater and Sociology at Marlboro College in Vermont — “I knew little about the area, but it sounded nice, so I came out here.” Then, after returning to the West Coast for a string of prop-building, special-effects, and related work in television and cinema, she earned her master’s in Scenic Design at UMass Amherst.
She could have headed west again, but an opportunity arose that convinced her to remain in Massachusetts. “There was a scene shop in Greenfield, and I had worked for them on and off while in grad school,” she said. “They eventually had to close, but for personal reasons, not any lack of business. I had inherited a little money, so my partner, Andrew Stuart, and I bought their equipment and materials.”
The two had already developed ties with some of the former owner’s clients, and began to cultivate others after launching New City Scenic & Display in 2005 at the Eastworks complex in Easthampton. Today, they design and build sets and displays not only for film, TV, and theater, but also for museums, restaurants, places of worship, trade shows, and other venues large and small. For example, New City recently designed and built a new bar for the Eastworks-based Apollo Grill.
“In our shop, we build, paint, do metal fabrication, work with wood, sew — a little bit of everything,” said Davis, who is also the company’s master welder.
Life was a whirlwind two years ago; in the space of six months, Davis opened the business, defended her thesis, and had her first child, Ava. Since then, entrepreneurship has given her more flexibility to be with her baby than she could have working for others. Although the pace is still hectic, she said, it helps that she loves her work.
“I like the fact that I never stop learning,” she said. “With every project I work on, I learn something new, whether it’s about design or how materials go together. But I couldn’t do this without Andy and Ava. To have such a great working relationship with my partner, and have such a fantastic daughter, make even the stressful parts of my job worth it.”