Photography by Carl Schultz at Schultz Digital.

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 Phoenix & Scottsdale editor Sasha Clements discovered the brand, and what it was like to launch her first volume.

When did you first discover The Scout Guide? 

I am a Northern Virginia native and discovered The Scout Guide during a visit to Alexandria in 2015. A dear friend shared her The Scout Guide Alexandria with me and I was instantly smitten. It was wonderful to see the faces behind some of the favorite shops and businesses I’d known and loved for years, and I was intrigued to learn about the businesses I wasn’t familiar with. It helped connect me in a new way to the community where I was born, raised, and visited often, yet hadn’t lived in years. The Scout Guide felt like a touch point to a special part of the country that will always feel like home. 

What made you decide to become an editor? 

I’ve always enjoyed seeking out and discovering unique experiences and treasured places within a community. TSG was my trusted resource when I visited Scouted cities and found it to be a reliable source to find hidden gems.

I signed up for an online information session and a series of events happened following that session—including a friend bringing home a guide from a conference and insisting “you need to do this!” I also met another friend’s sister who is the editor of The Scout Guide San Antonio. Finally, when a friend and neighbor approached me about bringing The Scout Guide to Arizona together, it was the final nudge I needed to take the step of turning a passion into a profession. Not only was becoming an editor a great fit for my interest and experience, but the timing aligned perfectly when the opportunity was presented to buy the Phoenix market. It was the exact same time my family and I were relocating back to the Valley full time. 

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

One of the first businesses I met with was Cornelia Park, a beautiful home and gift store that has served the Phoenix community for over 40 years. The owner and proprietor, Anne Park, is gracious, kind, and a brilliant businesswoman who founded the destination shop that has served generations of Phoenicians. Over the years, Anne introduced and brought in beautiful product lines to Arizona. In many ways, she was the face of those brands and helped build such a loyal following that she grew to be the largest independent Mackenzie-Childs seller in the country. This was how I knew Anne and how my own Makenzie-Childs holiday decoration collection started.

Cornelia Park is the type of place where customers and the sales team take joy in knowing each other by name. Anne was exactly the business owner and person I felt should be highlighted within our city and to our national Scout Guide network, and it was not surprising that Anne knew of the Scout Guide when I approached her. Not only did she sign on as an inaugural volume 1 member (in the middle of the pandemic) but she’s been a huge supporter of TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale and become a special friend. 

“WE WERE ABLE TO BRING A COMMUNITY TOGETHER IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY AND CELEBRATE OUR MEMBERS AT A TIME WHEN SUPPORTING LOCAL CARRIED MORE SIGNIFICANCE THAN EVER BEFORE.”

What was it like to launch your first volume? 

We began conversations with clients in February of 2020 and I had a great couple of weeks. I had one client who signed on with us before businesses—and the world—shut down. As many did, we looked at what we could do to help our community during that time and built out our digital platforms to help our community stay connected by highlighting ways to support our local business community. We picked up conversations again as businesses began opening up and it was the resilience and determination of so many of the members who joined us in volume 1 that motivated me to get a guide sold, shot, and designed in four short months.

I heard more than a few times, “Wow, tough time to be starting your business, especially selling advertising to small businesses.” But we kept putting one foot in front of the other and it all came together. We launched our first volume in March 2021, which coincided with our state opening up again. I now see that our timing was perfect—we were able to bring a community together in the face of adversity and celebrate our members at a time when supporting local carried more significance than ever before. 

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

This is a relationship business. Focus your time on building and investing in your relationships with your members and in the community. The more you know about your clients, the better you can serve them. Outsource parts of the business that require significant time behind your desk. 

To learn more about Sasha and The Scout Guide in her area, visit The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale website and follow The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale on Instagram. Learn about starting The Scout Guide in your city here.