As the creator of a unique brand of children’s photography that grew into nine Classic Kids studios across the country—including Chicago and Winnetka—Julie Floyd personifies success.
“You have to be a little OCD to be a successful entrepreneur,” she says.
But this tall, fit mother of four sons—ages 3 to 19—seems more zen than obsessive throughout our interview, until she starts talking about her craft.
Floyd’s passion for working with children, nondigital film and developing techniques, and nurturing talented employees clearly drives her.
“Sometimes I have to remember to stop working and enjoy more family time,” she admits.
Floyd didn’t plan to be a children’s photographer. She started as a tax attorney at two prestigious law firms in Chicago. But she felt so drawn to “capturing kids’ spirits with photography” that she also interned—for free—for a successful photographer.
When her husband’s career moved them to San Francisco, Floyd quit law and opened the first Classic Kids.
“When I started, no one focused only on kids and only on black-and-white. People thought I was crazy!” Floyd says, smiling. “Now everyone takes inspiration from us, including our ‘Baby Parts’ collages.”
Besides that OCD gene, Floyd recommends five traits for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Passion, a big work ethic, some business training, a realistic perspective on the sacrifices needed—you can’t be the “perfect” mother and wife all the time, too—and carving out a unique niche.”
The final ingredient to her success is that Classic Kids gives back—a lot. “At least $100,000 a year,” Floyd says.
Her passion has nurtured a devoted following. “Families keep returning despite the premium charge,” she says. “And most rewarding of all has been watching so many great kids grow up.”