The mother and daughter team behind an international baby photography business have talked of how “scary” but rewarding the process of franchising their business has been.
Melanie Kemp and her mother Jan Massey launched Photography for Little People in 2005 from a barrow in the Metrocentre before its success led them to franchise the business across the UK, and more recently Hong Kong.
An approach from a Hong Kongese businessman last year led the 2007 North East Entrepreneur Women in Retail to accelerate international franchising plans which included trademarking their brand and hiring a specialist franchise lawyer.
Photography for Little People Hong Kong launched in January as Hinky Tsang took on the master franchise for the region of China.
Mr Tsang brought his team to the UK last September to be trained by Ms Kemp, who is an accomplished photographer, ahead of the launch.
She said: “We’d always had plans to franchise abroad and Mr Tsang approached us first.
“It was a hard process as it’s about gaining the trust of one another. Me and my mum have always made family the heart of what we do, and he demonstrated the same thinking — I think that’s why we clicked.
“Our franchisees are a real mix of people. We’ve got a former flight manual writer and a number of mums. I find it really rewarding to see these people take on the Photography for Little People name, and the skills we teach them, and get great results.
“Customers shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between my work and their work, that’s the secret to making the franchise work.”
The company specialises in providing prints and canvases of babies, young children and mothers. Impressions of babies’ feet and hands have also proven to be a popular product.
Photo shoots take place in customers’ homes before they select from a range of shots.
In conjunction with the Asian launch Ms Kemp and Ms Massey took the idea to a major baby show in Hong Kong.
Ms Kemp said: “The response we had at the show was incredible. People were really intrigued by what we’re doing. We’d expected to see some others out there doing similar ideas but so far we haven’t. It’s really captured peoples’ imaginations.”
The County Durham entrepreneurs have now established trademarks in Australia, the US and across Europe — ahead of intended franchising.
The business is still growing at home too as Oxford has recently become home to the latest Photograph for Little People outpost.