Even as Emily Rhodin successfully climbed the corporate ladder, she knew she wanted more. She wanted to call the shots and be her own boss.
“That was always the goal,” she said. “And it has never changed.”
Last year, Rhodin left her position as a vice president and corporate controller of financial operations at Fortegra Financial, a Jacksonville-based insurance company, to open a boutique women’s clothing franchise called Scout & Molly’s Boutique.
Scout & Molly’s Boutique has been expanding along the East Coast since 2008 after investors with experience selling franchises became involved in the company, according to the company’s website. The original store opened in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2002, with the second opening in 2007.
The company charges a $50,000 franchise fee and estimates startup costs between $250,000 and $300,000.
There are now about 15 stores in the works stretching from New York City to Los Angeles.
Rhodin plans to open two franchises in the Jacksonville area this year, she said. She has already signed a lease at Sawgrass Village in Ponte Vedra Beach and could sign a lease in Jacksonville this week. She declined to release the Jacksonville location until it has been finalized.
Rhodin has a silent partner, also familiar with the corporate world, but they didn’t plan on opening a retail operation.
“We thought we wanted to buy an existing business,” Rhodin said. “Something more in line with our past.”
They contemplated buying a professional services business, but passed on that and some other operations before seeing an opportunity with retail, Rhodin said.
One thing that caused some hesitancy was all the small things outside of her experience as a professional that go with running and building a business from scratch. She knows finances, and even retail finances as before working for Fortegra, Rhodin audited those types of companies when she worked at PricewatherhouseCoopers.
She said the franchise model worked well with her goals, especially since Scout & Molly’s take a hands on approach on the front end helping obtain necessary technologies and supplying the policies and procedures.
“They’ve really written the recipe,” she said.
Katy Figg, a real estate broker with Franklin Street, helped find space for Rhodin. After location at several locations, they settled on Sawgrass because of the growth of the area and the way the boutique fits with the community.
Rhodin said she has the franchise rights for Scout & Molly’s in the greater Jacksonville area and plans to eventually open five storefronts under that name.
She said if the Jacksonville lease closes this week, it could open as soon as March. The Sawgrass location has a planned opening of April, she said.