Today’s interview is with Jan DiCinto from Scoutie Girl, a blog full of indie finds with a fine-arts bent. Scoutie Girl is also Typepad’s featured blog for March 25, 2007. Want to know more about Jan and her blog? Read on…

This is one in a series of interviews with indie bloggers. You can find previous posts here:
Indie Fixx
Anything Indie
Miss Malaprop

Scoutie Girl is becoming quite an asset to the indie community. How did it get its start?
Scoutie Girl is a melting pot of a few things for me: the many personal bookmarks I’ve made over the years when shopping for unique items, the indie designers with whom I’ve exchanged links for my own indie business and the desire to cross-promote all of the above. Plus, it’s much more efficient to send someone to Scoutie Girl for indie shopping ideas rather than sending 20 links in an email (which has happened too many times to count!).

Has it changed at all since you began? How?
Scoutie Girl is a new endeavor, which started in January of 2007. And believe it or not, in that short amount of time certain things have evolved! Initially, I thought I would only feature indie designers with their own ecommerce websites. But there are many, many online (and brick & mortar) boutiques selling/promoting the work of indie designers, too. Their belief in and preference for the indie designer should not go unnoticed, so I have added items from shops like this as well.

What has been your favorite thing about running Scoutie Girl?
Definitely the feedback from the designers about their posts. They’re *very* appreciative of the layout and descriptions used to promote their work, which is important to me. They also love the overall vibe of the blog and how it sets their work off in a professional light. Yay! As a business owner, I know which plugs have gotten Daisy Janie the most traffic that translated into sales…so I really try to optimize the posts based on that knowledge.

What do you look for in the sellers you highlight?
Top-notch execution and mind-blowing creativity are first b/c both of these suggest passion, dedication and a desire to be in business earning an income. Scoutie Girl has a definitive slant toward fine art (designers with degrees who may be established but are still in the realm of “indie”); my background as an artist propels me in this direction. And finally, I’m young at heart, but I’m heading into my 40s. What lit my candle 10-20 years ago is dramatically different now. Designs that transcend lifestage categorizations are very appealing to me. *All of the above are on a sliding scale of course!

The indie community has many advantages over mega-retailers. Which do you feel is its strongest? Why?
The ability to morph quickly as individuals and as a community is infinitely powerful! We creatively adapt, improvise and overcome more effectively than any cumbersome big box ever could. In this way, we’re able to set trends, customize products, change designs/materials, swap information, learn new techniques and delight shoppers all in a day’s work!

What is the biggest challenge we face?
Depends what your objective is. Assuming it’s earning a fair profit, then I would say lack of visibility in conjunction with high price points. If someone can see it and it’s cheap, they’ll buy it. For most of what we sell, consumer behavior is not defined by high-involvement decision-making so much as by impulse, which is why these 2 factors together keep the indie designer from making a suitable income. How many of us have day jobs? These 2 challenges are governed a great deal by external forces…..not so easy to adapt/morph in spite of them!

Where do you see the indie community in five years?
In five years, I believe the indie community will be perceived as less of a mainstream “alternative” and more of the mainstream itself. Hand in hand with that, buyers will be actively seeking out the indie designer. As the movement continues to gain positive exposure and momentum, we’ll be stealing market share and revenue from the big box marts in measurable amounts.

What was your most recent indie buy?
A really long, colorful, beaded necklace from a local boutique (Imagine That) that features handmade work from all over the country. It goes with everything and can be wrapped up a bunch of times to make a 4-strand choker. Very cool.

What was your all-time favorite indie buy? What made is so special?
A necklace from Stones on String with a silver “peace” charm and a few other pretty gemstones and crystals. The phrase on the charm sold me…I’m all about the simple message of peace. And I think it needs to be conveyed as much as possible.

You also create and sell on Can you tell us a little about your own work?

Daisy Janie features handmade handbags in fabrics I have personally designed as well as select home décor fabrics. As an artist who jumped into making handbags when painting walls had worn out its welcome, I began designing my own fabrics as a way to differentiate my collections from other indie designers. The handbags come in a variety of shapes & sizes, from mid-sized totes to wristlets. The handbags are designed using my own preferences to define my target market. Again, the lifestage thing was a factor as well as an extremely casual lifestyle. They’ve been very well-received, and I’d like to think that’s a barometer for the indie community as a whole!

Do you have any new projects on the horizon?

Yes and no. Things are sort of status quo….just adding new features on Scoutie Girl and new fabrics/handbags on Daisy Janie in the usual cycle of events. I just accepted a marketing research position so I’ll be back at the daily grind after a 9-year hiatus! Yowsa!!!