Photography by Kim Thomas.
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Stephanie Stephens didn’t stray too far from Bluff City to attend college at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, where she studied marketing and minored in entrepreneurship with the intention of running her own business one day. She returned home to Memphis after graduation with a newfound love of the city she had grown up in, and took a position as a trade assistant at a commodity trading firm. After spending the day watching the ups and downs of the futures markets, she would research everything happening in Memphis, planning out her weekends and happy hours accordingly. Family and friends soon began asking her for suggestions on what to do and where to go in the city, and her husband, Paul, quickly got used to Stephanie dragging him to new breakfast spots, festivals and fairs, and shopping events. Naturally, when the opportunity arose to be editor of The Scout Guide Memphis, Stephanie couldn’t pass it up. As editor, she loves connecting with the local business owners, artists, and curators who make Memphis wonderful and unique. Three years in, she is still just as passionate about her role—if not more s0—than she was in the beginning. The dynamic editor, aspiring pilates instructor, and mystery book fanatic will launch the eighth volume of The Scout Guide Memphis in late-October.
Stephanie dropping off guides at TSG Memphis & Oxford client Kittie Kyle.
TSG: Tell us about your background.
SS: I grew up in Memphis and went to college at Ole Miss, where I received a degree in marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship. I was born and raised in Memphis, and it will always be my home!
I began my career following my dad’s path and worked for a commodity trading firm in Memphis. By 2017 I had the itch to do something new and reached out to a career coach to help me drill down on my skill set and what career would be most fulfilling, both professionally and personally. I realized my true passion was being out and about in my city, trying new things, and meeting other Memphians. That was too hard to do from a trading desk. With the help of her insights, I quit my trading job and started working in development at Hutchison School. I knew it was temporary, but it was a good way to keep busy, learn about fundraising, and form new connections.
TSG: How did you come to be editor of The Scout Guide Memphis?
SS: On the guidance of my career coach, I’d been reaching out to people who had careers I found interesting in hopes that something would come out of it, whether it was a job or a new connection. I ran across The Scout Guide at Hutchison School and thought it was so beautiful. I sent Muffy Turley, The Scout Guide Memphis editor, an email and asked if we could meet. At the time, I had no idea The Scout Guide was a franchise, nor did I know she was currently looking for a new owner/editor, I was just curious about how she produced the guide. She met with me and I immediately fell in love with The Scout Guide. It was fate!
Muffy encouraged me to start shadowing her for some photo shoots so I could get a feel for the process of producing a guide. I’m not going to lie, I was very overwhelmed at first, but it was one of those things I knew I did not want to pass on. I just had a feeling I would regret it if I didn’t take the opportunity. While I was deliberating my decision to buy the franchise, my close friends and family that I mentioned it to were very supportive and told me to just go for it. I’m so glad I did.
Stephanie with her husband and dog. Photography by Selavie Photography.
TSG: Was there anything that prepared you for owning your own business?
SS: I always knew I wanted to run my own business one day, which is why I minored in entrepreneurship in college. I felt that owning your own business was a great opportunity to make others happy while also doing something that you love. I think it’s rare to have a business owner not love or believe in the business that they run and own. It just wouldn’t work. So I knew it would be a great way to spend my life. Since college, I was always researching and reading about entrepreneurship. I wouldn’t say any one thing in particular prepared me for owning The Scout Guide Memphis, besides having friends and family who support me and let me talk non-stop about what I do. If you know you want to own and run your own business, you just need to go for it and take it one step at a time.
I’ve learned a lot about myself during this whole process. One of the things I didn’t expect was how much I would love sales. I always look forward to meeting with other business owners and learning about their journey. Typically, my sales meetings are lovely get-togethers over coffee or at their place of work. I get so excited telling Memphis business owners about The Scout Guide and what it’s like to be part of it. I can talk about it all day! It’s rare when I leave a meeting feeling bad. Even if I know they aren’t going to move forward with The Scout Guide, I’m still happy about the conversation we had.
TSG: What is a typical day like for you?
SS: What I like most about this job is that I go through different “seasons” throughout the year. There’s sales, then onto photo shoots, and then onto production, with of course digital marketing promotion weaved in throughout each season. Going through a cycle like this helps keep me on my toes. I never feel burnt out on any one part of the cycle. After sales, I am so ready for photo shoots, and when photo shoots are nearing the end, I am so ready for design and production. There is no day that looks the same as the next.
Since the guide launches later this month, I am mostly in preparation mode right now. Today, I started the day with some desk work, accessing our Instagram posts for the week and scheduling future posts, and then I responded to emails. I am going to meet a potential Volume 9 business for coffee and then I will stop by a Volume 7 client’s shop to drop off guides and take photos of items in the store to add to our Instagram story. Then it’s back to my desk to work on final details for the Volume 8 launch party that’s scheduled for the end of October. Planning events for my members to attend is one of my favorite roles as editor, and the launch party is the most exciting!
Stephanie at TSG Memphis & Oxford client Core Collective Broad.
TSG: Tell us a little bit about your work/life balance.
SS: When I first started running my own business, it was really hard for me to turn off my work brain. That wasn’t good for my home or social life. After about a year, I set a hard boundary to stop looking at email—or respond to texts—after five o’clock so that I can concentrate on other things like cooking a healthy dinner and just chilling out. This helps me wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready for anything and everything Scout-related.
During photo shoot season I have a lot of “golden hour” shoots, which in the summer, gets me home closer to 8:00 p.m. I’ve learned to just take the mornings slower on those days when I’m going to be working later that night.
TSG: How are you enjoying downtime?
SS: I love reading and am a big mystery/thriller fan, and I also adore historical fiction. My current read is The Guest List by Lucy Foley and it’s so twisty good. I’m currently training to be a pilates instructor so that’s a great way for me to do something totally different from “work” and entirely for my well being. And I always love going out to dinner with my husband or friends and enjoying delicious food and wine.
Stephanie and her husband skiing in Aspen, Colorado.
TSG: What do you love most about your city?
SS: There are so many things to love! Top of my list right now is the return of live music and Mempho Fest that happened in early October, Grizzlies basketball games, and going on a brewery hop. Everyone in Memphis shares a passion for food, so there are always amazing places to revisit and new spots opening up. And the best part is, Memphis has a serious small town vibe, so you’re never more than 20 minutes from anything. And I know I’m biased, but this town has caring people everywhere!
THE HIT LIST: STEPHANIE’S FAVORITES
Music genre: Spotify tells me “blues rock”
Meal: A good cacio e pepe
Drink: Cold brew with oat milk and honey
Book: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
TV series: Friends
Vacation spot: Aspen, Colorado
Time of day: Golden hour
Motto: Do your best, and stay open-minded.