by Elizabeth Coady
Elinor Quinones spent 17 years as a pharmaceutical marketer, performing detailed analyses to ensure internet drug advertisements made their way to prospective customers’ eyes. She enjoyed earning a six-figure salary and working with “smart people” every day. Then something happened to disrupt her corporate contentment – she gave birth to a baby boy.
Work became complicated. The 8-to-12-hour days left her little time to see her newborn, Evan. She was constrained by the demand to account for every minute of every day. When her three-month-old son got ill and required hospitalization, literally the day after she placed him in daycare, the lack of support for mothers in her corporate settling became palpable.
“It wasn’t fulfilling to me,” said Quinones, 39, of Plymouth Meeting, of the job. “They weren’t supportive to be honest. I didn’t think that my son deserved to be shortchanged.”
That awakening led Quinones to plan opening her own business where she could be in charge and unapologetically make time for her boy who turns two in November. In September she ditched her $150,000 salary and launched Little Nest Portraits, a family-friendly photography studio at 8617 Germantown Ave. Though the studio offered $30 portraits during the Harry Potter Festival, the studio’s official grand opening is Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
Quinones discovered the Little Nest franchise when she visited the Wayne, Pa., branch of the franchise for her baby’s newborn, six-month and one-year birthday photographs. Happy with what she calls an “heirloom product,” she bought a franchise last January and began searching for a location. She settled on a stone building at the top of the Hill which she’s renovated with paint and wallpaper to mirror the design of the franchise.
“It’s a great location,” she said. “It’s right across from the Chestnut Hill station, it’s right on top of the Hill, there’s [paid] parking in the back for families with newborns.”
It’s also an easy 10-minute commute from her home.
With its family focus, Chestnut Hill is the ideal spot for the studio where she plans to hold monthly events for community members, Quinones said. She also aims to develop cross-promotional relationships with Germantown Avenue businesses.
“Chestnut Hill is such a great community,” she said. “We also want to be a part of the community.”
Quinones is already collaborating with the children’s boutique Villavillekula and has decorative fixtures from Isabella Sparrow. She said the “phone has been ringing off the hook” since she posted a sign in the window announcing the studio’s impending launch.
Quinones has staffed her studio with photographer-moms familiar with the work-family balance challenge. Cathy Esibill, the studio’s lead photographer and former Chestnut Hill resident, is mom to two. Chestnut Hill resident Anna Diskin is mom to two boys under six. Ashley Shackelford has a 10-month-old baby boy. A fourth photographer on staff is Sarah Loss.
“They all kind of get the fact that when you’re a mom you automatically have a second job,” Quinones said.
The photographers will shoot photos both in the studio as well as outside and make color and black and white prints. New moms, head shots, babies and fur babies will be among their specialties.
Quinones said she’s focusing on creating community and a supportive space for moms and families in contrast to mothers in the corporate world.
“l honestly did not realize it until I had my son,” she added. “I really want to make opportunities for other working women.”
Happy, she said, to come to work.
You can follow Little Nest in Chestnut Hill on Facebook and Instagram.