It started when Amy Simcik was big enough to walk. Even as a toddler she was innately drawn to abandoned and lost creatures.
Be it a lost kitten or puppy or, most likely a forlorn firefly, she would wrap her love around the creatures and bring them home to nurture them and find them a forever home.
"Any kind of wildlife or animal are a passion of mine," she said.
An adult now, Simcik still embraces creatures that have seem to have the short end of the stick, and she still lovingly takes them in and guides them to where they need to be.
Simcik is the owner of the recently opened Harmony Home at the Paddocks in Mt. Juliet. It is a unique shop that specializes in furniture, home decor and gift items.
"We have items that are appropriate for every member of the family," she said, "from your pet to your infant."
An interior designer by trade, she started out making window treatments for a living. Simcik is also an entrepreneur with a second degree in accounting. The two combined make for a sharp and successful business owner. The Mt. Juliet Harmony Home is the third such business in Middle Tennessee, with the others based in Franklin and Murfreesboro.
She's managed to combine her love of rescuing animals with running her shops.
"I know they don't seem to go together, but they do really well," she said.
Three years ago when she opened her Murfreesboro store, an employee brought in a pregnant cat that had managed to survive the 2010 Nashville flood.
"Before we knew it we had five kittens and the momma cat," she said. "I kept them in my office there, which has a big picture window."
Soon the darling kittens captured the attention of her customers. She partnered with the local animal shelter, and they were all adopted.
The experience was fulfilling for Simcik, as well as for her customers, who got a kick out of "loving on" and interacting with the kittens.
She eventually made a "kitten room" at the store and, before long, they had adopted out 100 kittens; little creatures that might not otherwise experience such a pleasant outcome.
Simcik mirrored this success at her Franklin store, and now the same experience can be had at her new Mt. Juliet store.
Along with the kittens she always has available for customers to play with – and hopefully fall in love with and adopt. Simcik usually has about three to four adult cats in her store for customers to enjoy and also adopt. They blend in with the comfortable surroundings and can be heard purring on occasion.
She calls her mission to find homes for homeless cats and kittens God's Creatures.
"It's been overwhelming; people donate money, food and cat litter," she said. "And even if they don't adopt, they enjoy the presence of the animals."
But, many do adopt. There's been about two dozen cats and kittens adopted out of the Mt. Juliet store just in the two months it’s been open.
"All my employees who come to work here are big hearted people and are on board with this charity," she said.
She said people like her are "born this way."
"We have a passion to rescue animals," she said.
She's managed to wrap that passion around her business.
Currently Simcik works with Williamson Animal Control to get cats and kittens to bring to her shops in hopes her customers will want to take them home.
The adoption fee in this partnership is $45. She hopes to work with the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter in a similar partnership if a fee can be worked out.
"The $45 fee is pretty good compared to other places from which to find a cat to adopt," she said. "I like it to be reasonable because most people don't come into the shop to find a cat to adopt, so the price isn't shocking."
She tells her customers who are taken with a cat or kitten and are contemplating adoption that they can have a trial period of time together to make sure it's a good fit. If not, she gladly takes the animal back.
Along with the kittens this week, customers can find more mature cats – Goldie, Baxter and Sunny – at the Mt. Juliet store.