Soon after Lisa Kornstein received her master’s degree in higher-education administration, she was on vacation with her boyfriend, looking out at the ocean and dreaming. “Someday,” she said, “I’m going to open my own boutique.”
It wasn’t a new dream. She’d enjoyed working in a clothing store during school, and she hadn’t been quiet about her ambition. In fact, her boyfriend had heard it one too many times. “He looked at me and said, ‘For the love of god, stop talking about it and just do it!’” Kornstein recalls.
It was the jolt she needed. The Raleigh, N.C.-based entrepreneur wrote a business plan, found a space and, less than four months later, opened her first Scout Molly’s clothing store (named after her dogs) in 2002. The idea was simple: an unintimidating boutique with contemporary women’s fashions, designed to feel like you’re rummaging through your stylish best friend’s closet. Kornstein would personally guide customers through the store, helping them assemble the perfect outfit with pieces from brands like Autumn Cashmere, AG Adriano Goldschmied and Halston Heritage.
But she began having health problems, and in 2008 Kornstein was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The fact that she would often miss weeks of work or have to go home sick was influential in her decision to franchise; she
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