Continuing the work her father and mother started more than 50 years ago with a local apartment guide, Laura Tunnicliffe is meeting the needs of Memphis by taking luxury corporate housing to the next level. The president of Now Leasing oversees a multi-city operation that provides upscale temporary living accommodations across the globe, from downtown penthouses to elegant homes in the suburbs — whether you’re relocating for business, in-between homes, or simply on an extended visit to Bluff City. Meet our newest FACE of Memphis, Laura Tunnicliffe.
What led to your position as President of Now Leasing?
It’s a family-run business that my father started back in 1969. I really didn’t think that I’d be in it, but I worked in it from the time I was 7 or 8, licking envelopes. We had an apartment guide and then an apartment locator service. My dad was one of the first ones in Tennessee to have that, and he grew the business. When I went off to college, I decided that maybe I wanted to be in the apartment guide business as well, so we started doing one in Nashville. I was into graphic design and art more than anything else, so I started working for him. Things were changing — the world was getting into the Internet and not as much into print, and we had the opportunity to sell that business. Then, in 1996, we spun off Now Leasing. It started as a corporate housing company — an alternative to a hotel with the comforts of home. As we’ve grown, we’ve learned to make it even more special because our clientele has gotten higher end. We have multimillion-dollar people coming in who want something high-end, so we focus on that.
What separates Now Leasing from other corporate housing services?
We can fit many different puzzle pieces. Mainly, we call on [major] corporations, and we help them with their relocation process when they bring in their higher-up folks. Sometimes those people don’t intend on moving long-term; they’re just [in Memphis] for a year while they’re waiting for their family to [tie up loose ends]. Then, we might help them move into a home at that point. It can also be somebody who’s selling their home but can’t yet find a new one. We’ve helped so many different people who want luxury — they don’t want something that looks just like everything else they’ve seen. They want to have all of the elements they’ve had at home, if not more.
Who are your mentors?
My dad and my mom. My dad started his business, and my mom works with him. They worked together to build [the company], which was amazing. I also have people like Entrepreneurs Organization. They’ve helped me grow, and I’ve been a part of that organization for 18 years. I’m a woman-owned business, and I’m not a woman on the island by myself. Even though we’re in all different kinds of businesses, we all have the same problems. Plus, I’ve had great business coaches, mentors, and clients. Everybody teaches you something. I think they’ve all made me grow.
What sort of challenges did COVID present?
We survived COVID, but it was hard. The market changed. People quit moving and going anywhere. So many people are transient because they can work from anywhere now, so we help those folks. The thing that’s really changed the most is that people aren’t moving for their job as much as they’re moving because they want the lifestyle now. We create a luxurious lifestyle that they won’t forget because we make it a great experience for them.
Where are your favorite spots in Memphis?
I love Harbortown. I love being on Mud Island and being down at the river, and I love being in downtown Memphis. It’s starting to change. Huge companies are down there now and they’ve revitalized it; it’s really starting to be an up-and-coming place.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be better, be different, don’t be the norm, and don’t be what people expect. Be exciting. Be sensual, creative, and make it all work, so people experience luxury. Once people experience it, they never want to go back.
Aside from faith, family, and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Adventure, because I love to travel. I wouldn’t want to live without that. I love relationships with people and learning from them, and I love new experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Laura!