Can You Bring Individuality to a Franchise?
Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Franchising often conjures up concepts of uniformity and standardization – the opposite of the creative freedom some entrepreneurs crave. While a certain level of corporate control is common amongst franchises, it's not a given. Amy Gray and Olivia Huvane were drawn to Scout & Molly's, a boutique retail franchise, because of the freedom that the company gives franchisees in selecting inventory. However, while creativity can run wild in the store, the franchise still offers organizational support that independent businesses lack.
Here's what Gray and Huvane have learned.
Name: Amy Gray and Olivia Huvane
Franchise owned: Three Scout & Molly’s locations in the New York area
How long have you owned a franchise?
We purchased the rights to three franchises in January 2015. We are just now about to open our first location in New Canaan, Conn.
Scout & Molly’s was unlike any other franchise we explored. It provided an amazing amount of organizational infrastructure but also allowed us to have a large amount of creative control over our inventory.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Olivia was a director at a creative agency, working to produce large-scale events and fashion shows. Amy was an accounting manager for eight years at a New York City-based hedge fund, where she oversaw the budgeting, cash flow and finance related HR process for the management company.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We would not have partnered with any other franchise. We connected immediately with the founder of Scout & Molly’s, Lisa Kornstein, and her vision for boutiques that was more than just a generic chain. Each boutique has a different selection of merchandise and a unique identity based on the franchisee, but there is also a very strong design aesthetic and service model so you know each one you go into will represent the brand at the highest level.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
There is a $50,000 franchise fee in addition to costs associated with the initial set up, inventory, furniture, fixtures, equipment, technology and more. Total estimated single unit investment: $208,300 to $244,750, which also includes $25,000 for working capital.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Living and working in New York gave us a wealth of resources and we reached out to just about anyone and everyone that we knew who was involved in retail, real estate, law and franchising. It really helps to talk to people in all the different facets of buying a franchise. You really want to know what you’re getting into before you take the leap.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Site selection, the time it took to select a location was the most difficult part. We didn’t foresee this being as big of an issue in the onset of the process, but once it worked out the rest was fairly smooth.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Our advice would be to trust yourself and your initial motivation for buying into a franchise and becoming a business owner. There are many moments where you get so lost in the tiny minutia of what needs to get done, but it helps when you are reaching for an end goal that you are passionate about.
What’s next for you and your business?
After opening our first location in a few weeks we will move on to looking for a location for our second and third boutiques. If we can perfect the business model and find a way to manage from afar we would love to continue to expand our portfolio of Scout & Molly’s to various regions around the country that we feel could benefit from this unique shopping experience.