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Alliance SBDC News

Little Sweet Cheeks

Janel Henninger and Sheena Kaszynski met while pursuing independent practices as newborn photographers. The two became best friends. They realized that working together, they could offer an even better service. However, the two didn’t know how to take the first step. A respected local photographer in Ottawa, Illinois, Lexi Poulakos, recommended a call to Amy Lambert of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance. Starting in January 2020, Henninger and Kaszynski learned how to take two photography businesses and make them into one legal entity. Along with lessons on how to work effectively with lawyers and accountants, Lambert gave the new partners encouragement and confidence.


Following Lambert’s advice on budget, the pair found a studio for the right rent in Washington, Illinois. The space needed work. Newborns can't regulate body temperature until twelve weeks, so a studio must be warm, safe and cozy. Ironically, the shelter in place orders of Governor J.B. Pritzker gave the two families plenty of time to perfect the thousand square foot space. Although newborns won’t wait to be photographed, the team built a backlog of sessions to fulfill when allowed to operate again at the end of May.

The large studio gave parents, babies and photographers plenty of space for socially distancing while taking remarkably intimate newborn photographs. The team caught up with the backlog but has totally sold out of Christmas sessions and couples sessions. The schedule doesn’t have openings until the end of Spring 2021. Even so, the two have retained experts in social media marketing and SEO to increase their studio business. Dedicated to celebrating the beauty of newborns, the two work by the motto, “Capturing the little, before they are not little anymore.”

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