By rejecting the traditional notion of a cookie cutter franchise, Meyer is building a strong team of passionate business owners.
Laura Novak Meyer never intended to break into the franchising industry. In fact, she first launched her concept—Little Nest Portraits—as a way to find balance between her personal and professional lives. Recognizing that in order to settle down and have a family of her own she needed to leave the demanding travel schedule of a photographer behind, Meyer decided to use her experience in a different capacity. Instead of traveling the globe to shoot high-end events including weddings and family portraits for well-known athletes, she would bring a boutique photography experience to the masses.
The first Little Nest Portraits studio opened its doors for business in a Philadelphia shopping center. Designed with families in mind, the brand strives to create a luxury photography experience that’s more personal than traditional studio sessions. That’s why its stores are modeled after five-star hotels and boast amenities like built-in play areas for kids and a relaxing refreshment area for parents—Meyer set out on a mission to set a new standard for the experience that comes with shooting maternity, infant and family portraits.
Because of its unique positioning within the photography industry, it wasn’t long until customers were asking for a Little Nest Portraits studio to open up closer to their homes. Not wanting to have too many employees under corporate management, Meyer ultimately decided that franchising was the best way to grow. But she didn’t want her business model to lose its one of a kind experience. So she decided to be a different type of leader and franchisor.
“I think that in adopting a business model—especially in the franchising industry—you can either choose to be cookie cutter or you can build a strong network of people around you. We knew right off the bat that we wanted to go that second route,” said Meyer. “Our top priority has always been to bring other passionate leaders into our system. That way we can continue to find the twist that every Little Nest Portrait location should bring to its individual community.”
That approach to building Little Nest Portraits’ system has been instrumental in its development initiatives so far. With five locations currently open for business and 11 more that are currently in various stages of development—including three grand openings expected to take place this month—it’s clear that aspiring entrepreneurs are receptive to Meyer’s flexible business ownership opportunity.
“As the founder and leader behind an emerging franchise concept, my goal is to create a system with enough structure that our owners find value in being a part of a proven system that can be replicated. But I don’t want to take the fun out of being an entrepreneur. Our franchisees are building a business that they need to be able to relate back to their local community, which is why we encourage them to bring their own ideas and expertise to the table. So far, that spark of individuality within our franchising system has created a supportive and fun culture that we’re planning to expand as we open up new studios,” Meyer said.
Through its ongoing development initiatives in cities that span the entire country, Little Nest Portraits is aiming to establish a strong national presence in the months and years to come. And while that nationwide expansion is creating momentum expected to set the brand up for long-term success, Meyer says there’s another part of being the leader behind Little Nest Portraits that’s even more rewarding.
“The most rewarding thing about running this business is watching other people realize their dreams as entrepreneurs. It’s incredibly inspiring to see our franchisees thriving professionally while still having time for their families and personal life,” said Meyer. “There aren’t enough companies out there that embrace the needs that people have in order to be truly successful. That’s why finding the right balance between work and home is such an essential part of Little Nest Portraits’ business model. I think that adopting that flexible leadership style is a big part of what’s given us the gift of success.”