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This Woman-Owned Business Helps Capture Lasting Memories 

Making Photo Memories in the Midst of a Pandemic

October celebrates National Women in Small Business and the City of Escondido is honoring women who have shown great persistence and resilience throughout this year to keep their businesses moving forward and growing. Rina Connolly’s Mirrored Memories has weathered the pandemic and pivoted her business to give partygoers safer opportunities to capture memorable moments.

Despite living in a pandemic era, many are looking for unique and safe ways to celebrate, from small gatherings to virtual parties. 

Connolly’s portable, mirrored photo booths and modern selfie stations give guests a fun way to capture the moments of events such as birthdays, weddings, retirement parties, school or community events, and so much more.

Pre-COVID-19 - Rina Connolly (left) poses with her mother-in-law, Pam, and sister-in-law, Aileen

“Everybody’s gearing up to start having birthdays and parties again; instead of huge gatherings, they have small household gatherings,” said Connolly, who started her Escondido-based business in late 2019, only to be shut down in March. 

“When COVID-19 happened, everything shut down and we had just barely started our business,” she said.

However, recently Connolly has seen an uptick in business, even though it’s slightly different now. “The photo business used to be all about gatherings,” she said. Yet, since the pandemic, gatherings were only recently allowed and now include safety precautions such as face coverings, social distancing, and hand sanitizing stations. Connolly has adjusted her business to include these measures. “We're just trying to adjust to what’s going on around us and trying to make sure that everybody is comfortable.”

Connolly has had help from the City of Escondido too.

Thanks to an Escondido Small Business Grant, Connolly was able to upgrade the safety of her machines, purchase a touch-free selfie station that uses QR codes and cell phones, and add safety measures such as a hand sanitizer dispenser in order to keep her employees and party guests safe, “A big portion of the grant helped us update everything,” she said “Before COVID-19, we only had the mirrored booth and it was touch based.”

Pre-COVID-19 - Partygoers demonstrate how the mirrored photo booth creates memorable shots

The mirrored booth is also a camera! Guests pose in front of the mirror and an attendant takes their photo. The photo can then be edited with boomerangs, which are tiny videos, added emojis, frames, backgrounds, and more. With the help of an attendant, photos can be printed instantly. 

Adapting to COVID-19 - This selfie booth allows partygoers to take touch-free pictures

The selfie booth or modern booth is a stand-alone camera that is usually set in front of a background. Guests pose in front of the camera and simply wave their arms to activate the camera. QR codes allow for touchless editing and sharing. Unlike the mirror booth, the selfie booth doesn’t need an attendant. However, if party hosts want instant prints, an attendant is required. 

“We try to make the modern booth more affordable, especially now,” Connolly said. “Many want to throw a small gathering now but they don’t want to have the added expense. The digital selfie booth is more affordable for the client.” 

For those who prefer to keep their get-togethers completely virtual, Connolly also has a virtual photo booth option. Guests can upload their own pictures to a designated phone number and their photos will be edited with backgrounds the party host has chosen. They will then be texted back to both the photographer and the host. This option goes well with Zoom parties or drive-by birthdays.

Despite the challenges of the past few months, Connolly, who worked as a surgical nurse for 20 years,  is happy she left a career to follow her dream of opening her own business in Escondido.  This new venture is far from her old job, where she met with patients at the height of their anxiety just before surgeries. Now, she meets people celebrating life events who are full of joy. 

“The crazy thing about it is I love making people smile. I think it’s the reason I like the photo booths; it’s the interaction with them that I enjoy,” she said. 

As a resident of Escondido, Connolly has headquartered her business here too. This central locale allows her to bring her photo booths to any location throughout the county and surrounding counties, while also providing services to local charity events and high school functions. 

Slowly but persistently, Connolly is determined to make Mirrored Memories a success. “I really want to thank the City of Escondido,” she said. “The grant they provided really helped me out and allowed me to continue my work in the community.”

Connolly is one of hundreds of local small business owners that have received support from both the City and the community during the pandemic. “It is our goal to help make sure small businesses recover from the shut down, stay, and grow in our city,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development. 

To book a photo booth for a party or occasion, go to or call (858) 251-9418.

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