Issue #4: A Georgetown fashion designer tells all 🛍

Readers, get excited! There's so much to look forward to in this newsletter that it's hard to know where to start. First, the founder of SCOUT Bags gives advice to young female designers (after the jump), Mayor Bowser writes a column for Cosmopolitan, and Ward 8 goes pink with the eighth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.

Deb Waterman Johns
Founder of SCOUT Bags, a 2004-created fashionable bag company in Georgetown.

How would you describe your style?
My personal style is really based on essential, neutral pieces. My day-to-day style is all about basics with a personal twist. If I’m dressing up, then I aim for an element of surprise with colors, fabrics, and unexpected silhouettes. I look for my important pieces in designer lines, so I focus on quality rather than quantity. Once I’ve acquired them, I’m keeping them for a long period of time. I went to a wedding last weekend and wore a fit and flare, three-quarter coat from Jasper Conran that I got in the '80s in New York. I also always rely on great shoes and an exaggerated, fantastic necklace to complete a dressed-up look.

How did your brand evolve, and what were the important elements to building it?
SCOUT evolved out of a need for a bag line accessible by the look, feel, and price point. We saw a need for ultra-lightweight and durable bags. We also wanted to inject a little bit of the unexpected and a little humor—like the dog on the logo. We had a lot of little kids at the time, and these bags made a difference in daily and seasonal tasks. The most important elements in designing these bags were high function, on trend in fashion, and an accessible price point. Above all, they had to be lightweight—that is a huge part of what we do.

How has your experience as fabric editor at Vogue helped you in your career?
The experience exposed me to experts in the field of fashion, both internally at Conde Nast and externally in the world of color, design, and merchandising. I was interfacing with the best and meeting with the most aspirational and expertise-based influencers. This experience enabled me to refine my own personal style and encouraged me to be fearless in the world of design. It was very exciting to work with everyone from legends to emerging talent.

What’s it like to be a business owner in Georgetown?
Georgetown is a very unique village within a metropolitan area. You have this neighborhood feeling to life, but it’s embedded in one of the most powerful and influential cities in the world. So, you get this dynamic group of creatives. You have writers, media people, and interior decorators mixed with politicos and heads of financial- and product-based businesses. It’s a melting pot from all over the world. This is inspiring when thinking of the people you want to reach with your brand. There’s nothing monosyllabic about this town, which inspires and encourages you to grow your brand dimensionally.

What advice do you have for young women who are starting their own businesses in D.C.?
I think it’s important to have experienced working for other people to legitimately navigate a business world. This said, if you’re passionate, talented, and you can find other people who believe in you the way you believe in yourself, then I think you can thrive. But, I do feel it’s critical to have some experience before you cut out on your own. After that, trust your gut and aim high. You must set the tone; if you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will.

What new things should your customers expect from you in the future?
The exciting thing about women and bags are the parallels to women and shoes. Somehow, even if we have what we need, we want something new, fun, colorful, or dynamic we haven’t seen before. I want to keep developing lines that are better than the last. We want to continue developing new fabrics, patterns, silhouettes, and colors that encourage women to collect SCOUT over the years.

Are you a D.C. resident?
Yes, I am.

What do you love most about living in Washington, D.C.?
The quality of people. Also, the village and metropolis. That’s very unique.

  • Behold, the most powerful women in Washington, D.C. [Washingtonian]

  • Speaking of powerful women, Mayor Muriel Bowser recently wrote a column for Cosmopolitan. [Cosmopolitan]

  • Meet the female business owner behind a brand new natural wine bar in D.C. [DCist]

  • While you're at it, here are some fascinating 1940s female codebreakers who totally transformed D.C. [Washingtonian]

  • Colorful, whimsical figures now adorn the Foundry Gallery’s walls, painted by Charlene Nield and Ann Pickett. [East City Art]

  • A Creative DC is more than its hashtag; it’s an organization that has widened its scope and opened up a new headquarters. [Washington City Paper]

  • Never been to the Freer Gallery of Art or the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery? Here's an interview with Carol Huh, the first curator of contemporary art at the galleries, who will tell you exactly what you should expect and what it's like to be a curator. [The Southwester]

  • This brand new app is aimed at women of color who are in search of a new hair salon. [WTOP]

  • In Anacostia, there is a creative safe space, called The Den, that features locally made products made by entrepreneurs of color. The Den is currently asking for funds to help get caught up on rent. [GoFundMe]

  • In case any local business owners or creators are interested in being a part of a new pop-up shop at L’Enfant Plaza, click here to learn more and submit your application.
  • October 16: If interested in topics surrounding feminism, the Emotional Labor Union will host an open forum on topics that will include sex, pornography, and the ways one intersects oneself with feminism.

  • October 19: In Dupont Underground, learn about the etymology of “Washington fashion” from the East Wing to K Street with D.C. boutique owners Betsy Fisher and Anika Hobbs and designer Hilton Hollis.

  • October 21: Ward 8 is going pink for the eighth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.

  • October 24: Along with a happy hour, this event will feature a shop filled with eco-friendly, responsibly-sourced athletic apparel and accessories. 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance.

  • October 24 and November 7: Finally, an event perfect for sharing with your baby. This is a yoga event meant to also be a bonding experience with your child. Simply bring your baby secured to your body with a wrap or a carrier, and stretch and relax with meditation.

  • October 25: Still struggling with your to-do list? This event, called "Do the Dame Thing!" will feature a panel of experts who will offer advice on how to handle anxieties.

  • October 26: Comedian Tig Notaro will headline at the Lincoln Theatre for The Bentzen Ball’s opening night. The next day, there will also be an event, called Women in the Business of Comedy Talk where influential women will mix, mingle, and get inspired.

  • October 29: The National Museum of Women in the Arts will host a craft fair that will promote local women artists and designers who create jewelry, fine art, and personal accessories.
  • Multiple dates: This monthly series will showcase the well-being coach, dietitian nutritionist, and author of Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield. Here, she will explore "what it means to be good to ourselves" through food, exercise, and setting goals.

Michelle Goldchain and Kim Stiens contributed to this newsletter.

Special thanks to the tipsters who suggested the Rebecca Scritchfield event, the baby wearing yoga event, the Ovarian Cycle event, and the Do the Dame Thing event.