Five Firsts With Sarah Phillips, Editor of The Scout Guide Alexandria, Virginia

Photography by Sarah Marcella.

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’re talking to our editors about their TSG “firsts,” from their first encounter with The Scout Guide to the first business they approached to be in the guide and more. Read on to learn about how The Scout Guide Alexandria editor Sarah Phillips discovered the brand, and what it was like to launch her first volume. 

When did you first discover The Scout Guide?

I first discovered The Scout Guide in 2016 at a shop in Middleburg, Virginia, and immediately fell in love with the aesthetic, the photography, and everything about supporting local. I then remember seeing more guides in shops in Charleston, New Orleans, and pretty much to every city I traveled to. I felt like it was a sign that I needed to get involved!

What made you decide to become an editor?

Since the day I laid eyes on the first Scout Guide I dreamed of being an editor and creating a book of my own. In 2018 I had recently moved to Alexandria and befriended the TSG editor, so she approached me when she was ready to move on. She knew I would be the perfect fit for the book with my background in social media, photography, love for small towns and local, and marketing. I’ve loved getting to know everyone in Alexandria through The Scout Guide and have made amazing lifelong friendships.

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

I knew when I took over TSG Alexandria that I wanted to change things up and make it more accessible to smaller businesses. I approached the most unique makers and artisans in our town, like Tulusa, Meg Biram Studio, and Cheats and Meeses, that I thought were doing incredible things and needed to be highlighted. In that first book I created we had an amazing Ones to Watch section filled with artists, cheese board stylists, interior designers, bloggers, textiles makers, gift stores, and more. I’m happy to say that most of our clients in this section are still with us today and some have graduated to full-page spreads. The most rewarding part of my job is watching small business owners flourish.

What was it like to launch your first volume?

Terrifying! I was intimidated by the entire process, but with my background in sales, marketing, and branding I had more knowledge to do this than I had originally thought. Once I got in the groove, my fears all disappeared. I really took on the fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude, and you know what? It turned out great. We had a big book full of clients that I retained and new businesses that I brought on. We had a wonderful party to celebrate around the holidays, which set the tone for years to come. Now everyone wants an invite to the TSG Alexandria party because they know it’s going to be good!!

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

You have to really love your city (or be willing to fall head over heels for it if you are new), because TSG becomes a part of you. No more popping into a coffee shop without running into someone you know. You become an ambassador of your town and it’s been the coolest thing. I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way and find so much pride in being able to help boost their businesses and give them the exposure that they deserve. You will discover  you wear many hats as a TSG editor, but what you will learn from the experience is invaluable. You will also learn how creative and resourceful you can be during photo shoots and it’s all so rewarding when you see your ideas come to life on the pages of your first book!

To learn more about Sarah and The Scout Guide in her area, follow The Scout Guide Alexandria on Instagram. Learn more about starting The Scout Guide in your city here.