Be Brave

We’ve reached a few exciting milestones lately at TSG Headquarters. In February, we published our 100TH VOLUME OF THE SCOUT GUIDE, and today we’re sharing our 100th TSG Tip. Thanks to our network of experts, we’ve covered everything from getting guest rooms visitor-ready to maintaining makeup brushes to seasoning a steak, and there are still so many topics yet to be covered! We’re so grateful to the TSG talents from across the country who have taken the time to provide us with tips, but more than that, we are incredibly thankful that they followed their passions and took a leap of faith (and a big risk) to launch the businesses that we love—and that add so much to our communities. Therefore, for our 100th TSG Tip, we asked a few of our TSG experts to share some of the pearls of wisdom they received when starting out, as well as advice they’d give their younger entrepreneurial selves. We hope anyone who is thinking of launching a business will find these tips to be enlightening and inspirational, and to all the makers, doers, and dreamers out there: thank you.

Rodney Simmons, co-owner, REVIVAL HOME and REVIVAL INTERIORS, and co-editor of The Scout Guide Chattanooga (pictured above with Revival Home and Revival Interiors co-owner and TSG Chattanooga co-editor Billy Woodall):

Advice that was pivotal: “’Put on your Sunday clothes.’ As a career Southern preacher, my father always emoted about bringing your personal best to church, community, and family. That meant grooming, dressing, and presenting your ‘Sunday best’ as a way of honor. That meant bringing out your best china, linens, and fresh flowers to celebrate guests in your home. That meant being forthright, honest and committed in business and community (giving it more than is expected; leaving it better than you found it). As a young child, my father’s message rooted itself as much in my becoming a gentleperson as it did in honoring my family’s faith. But how does that play into the creation of Revival Home and Revival Interiors? By bringing my best: In creating a Revival experience committed to finding an interesting building, in curating chic goods, in assembling great design talents, and in constantly honing creative perspectives. And while creating each volume of The Scout Guide Chattanooga, my father’s message still rings true: Scope the very best experiences, most interesting people, and most beautiful places that show the world just how glorious Tennessee really is.”

Advice to my younger self: “‘Fortune favors the brave.’ If I could give my younger self advice (knowing what I know), I would chant the very response that I give to so many design queries from Revival design staff, clients and colleagues—although in the much more plebian form of ‘Go big or go home.’ This guiding phrase (while maybe a bit trite) manifests itself in everything that Revival and The Scout Guide Chattanooga sets out to accomplish: choosing a bigger chandelier to coax a space into feeling more custom, blanketing a lush living room in all reds to inspire more emotion, jumping into a swimming pool fully dressed to become more memorable. Indeed, this selling-out-to-the-extreme for the sake of living-to-the-max is phrased in a more respectable manner by Nelson Mandela, ‘There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’”

Jeannette Whitson, owner of antiques and design company GARDEN VARIETY DESIGN in Nashville, Tennessee:

Advice that was pivotal: “I started out as an attorney and for years thought my creative endeavors were only for my spare time. I found myself living in Indonesia practicing corporate law, but spending every weekend traveling to find European antiques and building an export company there. Pretty soon I had two full-time jobs and it was time to choose. My husband said to me, ‘It’s okay to leave something you like to start doing something you love,’ so I left the practice of law…and I’ve never regretted the decision.”

Advice to my younger self: “I would tell my younger self that it’s okay to take that leap of faith to ‘Do what you love and love what you do,’ even if it means a complete change in the career path you thought you were on.”

Ashley Harris, owner of clothing and accessories boutique VERMILLION in Raleigh, North Carolina:

Advice that was pivotal: “My father, who was a banker and worked with many small businesses, told me to work retail for five years before going out on my own, and that was pivotal for me. Gaining the experience was valuable for success.”

Advice to my younger self: “I’d tell someone starting out the same thing my dad said, and that when you go out on your own, work hard and know that the confidence will come with each year you’re in business.”

Photo by Jaime Smialek