Lisa and Scottie at TSG Charlotte launch party. Photography by The Beautiful Mess Photography.

The primary job of each TSG editor is to produce a guide that distinctively showcases small business owners in their communities. As The Scout Guide Chattanooga editor Amy Walters shared in our first Anatomy of a Guide article, launching your first guide is a learning process. However, by the time editors produce their second and then third guides, etc., the experience changes. Of course the guides evolve, as do the editors, but certain aspects of creating the guide become more second nature.

For The Scout Guide Charlotte, Volume 10, co-editors Lisa Sherrill and Scottie Akins were well positioned to produce what is always a highly anticipated guide. Lisa has been part of the Charlotte community for over 16 years, serving on boards, investing in local projects, and participating in local fundraising events and initiatives, and she had always wanted to own a small business. After trying her hand in a few different industries, when the opportunity to own TSG Charlotte arose in 2018, it was a perfect fit. She brought on Scottie, who had moved to Charlotte in 2017 after living in Jackson Hole and working as associate editor with TSG Jackson Hole. Together they’ve produced three volumes, each an enjoyable experience, but the most recent one was particularly memorable. “Every year is special, but this year exceeded all expectations,” Lisa says.

Lisa and Scottie’s office.

Lisa and Scottie admit that they didn’t know what to expect going into sales during the pandemic, but historically they’ve enjoyed a strong return rate with many members, and that trajectory proved out for Volume 10. “Our small business community found the importance of continuing to advertise and promote themselves locally and within our national TSG community,” Lisa says. “They all pivoted, adapted, and created new ways to do business and we were proud to help spread the word.” In addition, over the past decade, The Scout Guide has built a strong reputation and loyal following in Charlotte, Lisa says. “We have many true legacies that have been advertising in every issue over the last 10 years.”

When Lisa and Scottie set out to produce Volume 10, their general goals, as always, were to build and connect a unique group of business owners and share their stories and passions with the Charlotte community. “We love cultivating a variety of business owners in a specific field to help show new and different perspectives, styles, and personalities to our readers,” the duo shares. “Every reader is different, and we want to make sure our book reflects that.”

As they began scouting, they ran a successful social media local restaurant campaign called “Dine Like a Local,” in which readers weighed in on their favorite place to eat and drink and then voted on the nominees. The winners with the most votes are featured in print in The Scout Guide Charlotte, Volume 10, allowing readers to explore and celebrate the ever-expanding local restaurant scene.

On the whole, Lisa and Scottie took the same approach to “scouting” their city that they have in the past, exploring the area and popping into new shops. “Our economy in Charlotte is booming, with new businesses opening up every day,” Lisa says. 

Behind the scenes of client Tiny Gods’ photoshoot.

Every editor brings a unique set of skills and aesthetics to the design process. For Lisa and Scottie, they always want the book to feel friendly, light, and airy, “But each year we strive to elevate with creative photo shoots and styling,” Scottie says. “Our photographers are amazing at capturing our members in natural light and making each image speak volumes.”

They start the process with creative meetings with each member, nailing down a concept and vision. Then they determine which photographer from their team would be best for the project. “One of our most memorable shoots from Volume 10 was a shoot with Chris Edwards for Tiny Gods Jewelry, where the business owner, Mary Margaret Beaver, posed with a chameleon, creating a seriously cool shot,” Scottie recalls. The expert photographer, the beautiful jewelry, the creative business owner, and the chameleon converged to become a truly memorable spread. 

Final spread for Tiny Gods. Photography by Chris Edwards.

The part of the creative process where all of the pieces start to come together is always a thrill for the editors, and Volume 10 was no exception. “The design stage is always so exciting, to see our hard work from the production stage come to life with logos and design,” Lisa says. The coeditors recently opened an office space at The Collaborative, which became their local home base where the behind-the-scenes magic happened. “We love working in a beautiful, creative space to tap into our productivity,” Scottie says of the office. Virtually, they worked closely with their designer at TSG HQ in Charlottesville, Virginia, while together in person they printed out and physically laid out each page to confirm pagination and ensure that each spread shined.  

Guides on display at the TSG Charlotte launch party. Photography by The Beautiful Mess Photography.

“It’s always a celebration when we see the guide for the first time,” Lisa says. “This year we direct mailed guides to local homeowners and received amazing feedback.” While pulling off an event during a pandemic had its challenges, the pair planned and executed a festive launch event at Lisa’s home following appropriate protocols. Attendees were delighted to be safely mingling, and each member went home with a gift box filled with favors from local businesses.

According to Lisa, who loves to host, this mingling will continue. Each year the team puts on a public fashion show that creates a lot of buzz and helps draw in readers, and the editors host multiple member networking events where business owners can connect in hopes of establishing potential future partnerships. “We love it when our members collaborate and work together,” Lisa says, adding, “Everything’s better together.”

The Scout Guide Charlotte, Volume 10.

To learn more about Lisa and Scottie’s  journey, follow The Scout Guide Charlotte on Instagram. Learn more about starting The Scout Guide in your city here.