From Hollywood to Paris: Kelli Kaye and Neil Phillips’ Le Macaron Franchise Journey
As our macaron franchise continues to grow to new markets across the United States, we’re fortunate to welcome new members to the Le Macaron franchise family. Two of our newest Franchise Owners, Kelli Kaye and Neil Phillips, have traded movies for macarons after successful careers in the film and television industry. After 20 years in Los Angeles, Kelli and Neil decided to relocate to another coast. The couple moved to Dunedin, Florida to open a Le Macaron French Pastries franchise in the famed Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks district.
We recently had a chance to learn more about our newest Franchise Owners, including their exciting Hollywood backgrounds working with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bryan Cranston and the Foo Fighters, to name just a few. Here is some more about Kelli and Neil’s colorful journey to becoming Le Macaron Franchise Owners so you can get to know them!
Lights, Camera, Action!
Prior to beginning their new chapter as Le Macaron Franchise Owners, Kelli and Neil Phillips held a variety of positions in the entertainment industry. Kelli, who shares Le Macaron’s birthplace of Sarasota, Florida, began her Hollywood career as a stunt performer prior to transitioning into a lucrative and successful career as a producer and line producer of films and TV shows that have been featured on Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV and theatrical release.
Neil, who is originally from London, has racked up a number of film and TV credits as a rigging grip and stuntman, and has been featured in blockbusters such as The Amazing Spider-Man.
One more fun fact about Kelli and Neil: the couple actually had macarons at their wedding! Talk about a match made in heaven.
Act 1: The “Meet-Cute”
So how did two entertainment industry professionals discover the Le Macaron franchise opportunity in the first place? The couple’s love affair with our bakery franchise actually started way back in 2010, during a visit to Kelli’s hometown.
“We first became aware back in 2010 when we visited Sarasota and stumbled upon Le Macaron French Pastries on St. Armands Circle,” Kelli explains. “At that time, owning a franchise was not something we were considering.”
Though the timing may have been off when Kelli and Neil first encountered the Le Macaron franchise, that would not be the case in August 2022, when our French pastry franchise caught their eyes yet again; this time when they were actively looking to invest in a franchise.
“Fast forward seven years, we started researching franchise opportunities and found that finding the perfect fit to be challenging,” says Neil. “Over the next five years, we found a few that seemed somewhat engaging but not the perfect fit until one day, while researching franchises, Le Macaron French Pastries popped up and caught our eyes, sparking us to investigate further.”
The couple felt that it was fate that brought them face-to-face with the macaron franchise that had captured their attention all those years before. “We feel blessed that the universe reconnected us,” says Neil. Kelli echoes that sentiment, saying, “Talk about full-circle!”
Act 2: The Training Montage
Once Kelli and Neil had set their sights back on the Le Macaron opportunity, they were determined to learn everything about our French pastry franchise. After qualifying for our Franchise Education Process, the couple took a deep-dive into all things Le Macaron to decide whether ours was the right franchise opportunity for them. “As we learned more about Le Macaron, we realized their business model was different from the rest,” Neil notes.
For one thing, Kelli and Neil appreciated Le Macaron’s family-oriented franchise model that creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for its Franchise Owners. “We love that Le Macaron is family run along with having expertise in their craft,” says Kelli. This close-knit company culture was something the couple had been looking for, so they knew how rare it could be in a franchise opportunity. Neil says, “After interviewing other Franchisors, we quickly realized how important camaraderie was to us and how hard it is to come by in a Franchisor. Along with a professional relationship, we wanted to have a more intimate affiliation with our Franchisor and not be just another store number. We found this with Le Macaron!”
Kelli and Neil also enjoyed the authenticity of the macarons and pastries that are created by an actual French pastry chef in Le Macaron’s dedicated confectionary. As a self-described foodie, Kelli was especially drawn to the outstanding quality of our signature macarons and French pastries. She says, “Le Macaron’s emphasis on quality, authentic French pastries, etc. influenced our choice to franchise with them in a huge way. Their pride shows in every aspect of the business model. It was definitely one of the top reasons that won us over to make the decision to join the Le Macaron family!”
Neil echoes this sentiment, saying, “We researched Le Macaron’s product and they not only strive to give the best but are the best! With their strict policy for ensuring quality and emphasizing using the best ingredients, this was a win-win from our perspective.”
The simplicity of the Le Macaron bakery franchise model was another huge draw for Kelli and Neil. After two decades of building successful Hollywood careers, the couple was looking for a franchise opportunity that offered more fun than stress. Neil notes, “The simplicity of the business model was another perfect fit for us. We knew we wanted a franchise that didn’t present stress to the highest degree as well as being super fun to run!”
Kelli agrees, saying, “The benefits of their streamlined operations, no complex food production, and minimal staffing requirements were the biggest draws.” With our no-bake model and simple operations, Le Macaron fit the Phillipses’ requirements for simplicity and fun!
Perhaps most importantly, Kelli and Neil saw the level of support they could expect to receive from the Le Macaron corporate team, and how it could elevate their potential for success. Neil says, “Le Macaron gives strong and caring corporate support, which circles back to how important camaraderie is when jumping into a franchise business.”
As the couple neared the end of their Franchise Education Process, they were invited to our Sarasota headquarters for Discovery Day—an opportunity to meet Le Macaron’s Founders and corporate staff, as well as to tour our confectionary, taste our products and see our shop in action. For Kelli and Neil, this was what cemented their decision to move forward.
Kelli explains, “What we liked about Discovery Day was gaining more knowledge about Le Macaron’s evolution from its infancy to present, which included touring the flagship café located on St. Armands Circle and the confectionary where all the magic begins. We also met other members of the Le Macaron family and team, giving it a more personal touch.”
Neil agrees, saying, “What we liked about meeting Le Macaron’s founders was the display of passion, dedication and unity. We instantly felt welcome. Getting to know the people we would be partnering with reassured us we were in good hands.” As Kelli puts it, “Discovery Day solidified our belief and gave self-assurance that we had found the perfect fit with Le Macaron French Pastries.”
Act 3: The Big Premiere
As Kelli and Neil get closer to the grand opening of their Le Macaron franchise, they are optimistic about their chances for success in their Tarpon Springs market. In many ways, says Neil, they’ve been training to own their own business for decades. He explains, “Working as freelancers in the entertainment industry for over 20 years is a form of entrepreneurship. So it was a natural transition for us.”
Some of the other traits the couple possess that they feel will make them successful business owners include drive, experience, and passion. Kelli notes, “ We have a proven track record of tackling one of the most difficult industries to break into, entertainment, and becoming successful. Our professions have given us the right combination of skill-sets and expertise to thrive as entrepreneurs. Our desire to focus on building our own family business and expanding is something we are passionate about.”
Now that Kelli and Neil have moved to Florida to own and operate their Tarpon Springs Le Macaron dessert franchise, they have more time to pursue their other passions and interests as well. For Kelli, this means hiking, enjoying nature and animals, and spending time with her friends and family. When he’s not serving up sweet treats at the couple’s Le Macaron café, Neil is an avid photographer with a passion for documentary style photography and Formula 1 auto racing.
In addition to building a legacy as business owners, Kelli and Neil are also excited about the joy they will inspire with their authentic French macarons and pastries, as well as building a future with the tight-knit pastry franchise family they’ve joined. “What we look forward to most about owning our own Le Macaron are being a part of the Le Macaron community and interacting with other Franchise Owners, brightening a customer’s day with a mouthwatering treat, getting to know the regulars, watching our franchise spread its wings and expand into several store locations, and further developing our camaraderie with our Le Macaron mentors,” says Neil.
Write Your Own Happy Ending With Le Macaron
Kelli and Neil’s Le Macaron story sounds like it could have come straight out of a Hollywood script! We wish them all the best as they begin their new careers as dessert Franchise Owners!
Looking for a similar happy ending in your career? Discover the Le Macaron franchise opportunity. We’re currently awarding franchises to qualifying investors in select U.S. cities. Visit our website for more information.