Special Strong will celebrate the opening of two new franchise locations in East Memphis and West Memphis with grand opening celebrations in May of 2023 and May of 2024.
Franchise owners Julia Santos and Marko Pavlovic work as colleagues at an area school for children with dyslexia. For the last several years they’ve been collaborating and thinking through projects before deciding that Special Strong was the right choice for them and their community.
Julia has a 15-year-old son who has Down Syndrome and a family that leads a pretty active lifestyle. In looking for different opportunities for him to get involved with, she came across Special Strong. While there wasn’t a location nearby for her family to take advantage of, she loved the concept and shared it with Marko.
At the time, Marko was pursuing a doctorate in special education with plans to become a university professor, but Special Strong stayed on their radar throughout his studies. Marko ultimately received an offer to teach at a university and was ready to make that move with his family.
“Julia and I had been in conversation for a while about reaching individuals with exceptionalities in the Memphis area and beyond. Ultimately, I didn’t want to leave Memphis,” said Marko. “It took a lot of prayer, but you can’t go against God’s will. I’m so grateful and thankful that Julia came to me. Special Strong has such a phenomenal mission and we are so humbled and blessed to be chosen to be a part of it.”
The opening of these locations makes Julia and Marko the first multi-unit franchise owners in Special Strong’s history, a decision they made to serve even more members of their community.
“I was wanting to invest in something and be a part of something that was transformational for the students that we work with, and for my son as well,” said Julia. “We so believe in it. It’s a vital piece that’s missing in this community.”
“There’s such a great need,” noted Marko. “We wanted to have the opportunity to impact a large population. As professionals in this field, we see the need, the impact, and the value it brings not only to the individual but also to the families and the community. There are so many different layers.”
Marko, who was born and raised in Serbia and came to the United States on a soccer scholarship, sees opportunities for growth in areas where the need for this type of programming is even greater.
“Where I’m from, and many other areas in the world, the need for something like this is tremendous. People with exceptionalities are marginalized in so many ways,” he said. “We’re hoping and dreaming that one day in the very near future we’ll be able to take this and expand to those areas as well.”
If you would like to learn more about owning a rewarding Special Strong franchise, we encourage you to reach out to us today for more information.