Photography by White Rabbit Studios.

We’re always hoping to make a good first impression, and that first-time readers of The Scout Guide will put the publication down feeling inspired to learn more about the featured businesses—and, if they’re out-of-towners, to seek out (or start) a guide in their own hometown. In this series, we talk to our editors about their TSG “firsts,” from their first encounter with The Scout Guide to the first business they scouted and more. Read on to learn about how The Scout Guide Huntsville editor Dawn Pumpelly discovered the brand, the first business she scouted, and what it was like to launch her first volume.

When did you first discover The Scout Guide?

I first discovered TSG in the summer of 2016 when I had stepped away from my family business and was looking for my next adventure. I was so excited about the growth and development that I was seeing in Huntsville, and I wanted to find a way to be a part of this special time in our community. I was seeking an opportunity that would allow me to own my own business, be my own boss/mom/wife/community volunteer, and also in some way support the explosive growth in small business in Huntsville. I had a friend from college, Courtney Pigford, who I started seeing post special community news about Birmingham as (then) The Scout Guide Birmingham editor. The more I followed along with her, the more my interest piqued, and I realized that Huntsville needed and deserved the kind of small business amplification that Courtney was bringing to Birmingham. And, from there, a year’s worth of research and conversations began.

What made you decide to become an editor?

I knew that being an editor met my goals of being my own boss and owning my own small business in this electric local growth period, but I had some serious questions about whether the business could work in our big, small town, so I reached out to some key local players who I admired and who were making an impact on our community. Sasha Sealy and her husband had renovated a historic downtown department store into a modern apartment building. I admired the way they put themselves and their business behind an out-of-the-box concept and took a stand in the early downtown Huntsville redevelopment. Sasha assured me that Huntsville deserved to be represented in the elevated TSG way. I also met with Dennis Madsden, who was a key player in the City of Huntsville planning department and the architect of “Big Picture Huntsville.” Dennis told me that he thought Huntsville was ready for The Scout Guide and provided me with the best advice that I received through this process: “Huntsville is the kind of place that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard for it, people will get behind you.” His words ring true to me every day. I spoke to community leaders, folks in nonprofit, and editors from other TSG cities. There were so many important voices that helped me believe that being the editor of The Scout Guide Huntsville was right for me, for Huntsville, and for our community.

“The first business I met with actually reached out to me! I am so proud that our guide’s growth has mirrored theirs.”

Tell us about the first business you approached to be in the guide.

The first business I met with actually reached out to me! They saw the announcement on social media about TSG coming to Huntsville, knew the TSG brand, and sent me a message with interest. I met with Paul Matheny and Marc Goldmon of Matheny Goldmon Architecture and Interiors in their offices and they trusted me and my vision for the guide and were the first to sign on. I value their trust and loyalty and am proud that they have continued to be featured in all of my guides since Volume 1. I am so proud that our guide’s growth has mirrored theirs as they have continued to design beautiful specialty residential projects while also having a hand in designing some of the most high-impact commercial and civic projects that our region has seen, including the Huntsville Botanical Gardens Welcome Center, the Mars Music Hall and Rhythm on Monroe, the Orion Amphitheater, and so many more. Matheny Goldmon’s work is shaping the future face of our community just as I believe The Scout Guide is doing.

What was it like to launch your first volume?

It was a crazy time, as when I launched I was a one-woman show. I handled all of the member commitments, communications, scheduling, coordination, distribution, connections…everything! Since then, I have grown my team to include a small and passionate group of collaborators who help to advance The Scout Guide’s local brand. It has been so refreshing to bring together professionals who love Huntsville as much as I do, while also being great at what they do and passionate about The Scout Guide’s impact in Huntsville. A secondary benefit of being editor of The Scout Guide Huntsville for me is to watch my team grow and flourish in their own work—photography, digital media, communications, styling, and creative design.

What’s the first thing you would tell a prospective editor?

You need to have a desire to engage at a deep level with your community. You must be in it for the long haul, because like starting anything new, the beginning is tough and a lot of work. But get ready to learn and grow and meet some amazing people!

To learn more about Dawn and The Scout Guide in her area, visit The Scout Guide Huntsville website and follow The Scout Guide Huntsville on Instagram. Learn more about starting The Scout Guide in your city here