From baristas to bartenders and the friendly faces behind the counter of your favorite shop, meet Manayunk’s movers and shakers who are behind the scenes helping Manayunk businesses thrive!
By Madeline Correll & Alexis Proctor
Photos by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com) and JPG Photography (jpgphotography.com)
Meet Andres Maldonado from Volo Coffeehouse
Even though he was born in Chicago, Andres Maldonado did not grow up in the Windy City. He spent his childhood in Ecuador, returning to the states when he turned 17. After completing his last year of high school in New Jersey, Andres went on to Rutgers University. He graduated from Rutgers in 2006, but it was not until 2014 when Andres found himself in Manayunk looking for work.
“I literally was just walking up and down Main Street trying to find something, and that’s how I ended up at Volo,” he said.
“I kind of just landed here,” is what Andres said when asked what initially drew him to Manayunk. He never expected to be here this long, but it is the close-knit community that makes it so hard for him to leave. Andres realizes that the allure of Manayunk is not captivating to him and him alone — it is this infectious charm, which led him to his own venture of listing Manayunk properties on Airbnb. He now has six listings, some of which he has completely furnished himself.
Andres makes it “a point to remember people’s names and what they drink” and believes this is why he has developed such good relationships with customers who frequent Volo. Volo is a unique environment for anyone who walks through the door. For the entrepreneur, it provides a perfect place to focus and get a much needed caffeine boost and for others, it is a part of their daily routine. As for those behind the counter, it is an incredibly unique work environment. According to Andres, “a lot of people have been there for a long time,” so naturally at some point, coworkers turn from fellow employees to friends.
When Andres has friends and family come visit him, he shows them Manayunk — the impression of Philadelphia they take with them. Though Andres grew up in South America and spent a great deal of his life there, Manayunk is his home. Andres feels that, “it’s the community really; the people who work here, the people who spend time here, and the people you just get to see.”
Meet Brittany Emmanuel from Salon L
You may recognize Brittany Emmanuel if you’ve ever stepped into Salon L. While living on Main Street nine years ago, a neighbor set her up with a job at the salon’s previous location. Brittany, who is now the salon manager, started off by working the front desk. Nowadays, she does a little bit of everything — booking appointments, checking clients in and out, helping with inventory orders, and making sure the salon is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
When Brittany’s not working at Salon L, chances are you might spot her walking her dog Stormy on the towpath or across the street enjoying drinks with friends at Craft.
“The bars and restaurants are great here,” Brittany said. “I love Craft. We go there pretty much every day and we have very good relationship with everybody who works there. They come to us and we go to them.”
Her days at the salon are busy and sometimes very long, but always worthwhile because of the people who surround her.
“I love the staff. I work with my best friends,” Brittany said. “My boss is one of my best friends and I love the clients.”
She loves coming to work every day in a space that is so beautiful, warm, and inviting, much like Manayunk itself. She attributes the welcoming environment to the staff relationships that have developed.
“Clients respond to the way we interact with each other,” Brittany added, emphasizing how down to earth all of her coworkers are.
In certain ways, Salon L is a reflection of Manayunk at large. You may be intimidated by the beauty of it all at first, but once you stop to talk with the locals and immerse yourself in the community, you see why so many are happy to call Manayunk home.
Meet Kellie Strain from The Wall Cycling Studio, Liberty and Lace, and Clover Event Co.
The golden rule suggesting to not mix business with pleasure does not apply to Kellie Strain. In fact, it was breaking this rule that lead her to the place she is in today. Kellie currently works for not one, not two, but three businesses on Main Street. She first moved to Manayunk in the spring of 2012, but has been familiar with the area since her college days at Cabrini University. If she seems familiar to you, it may be because she frequents Volo Coffeehouse and works out in the neighborhood, too.
“One of my all-time favorite things to do is work out at The Wall,” Kellie said. “I love it there. I feel like it’s a good reflection of the Manayunk community at large.”
Not only is Kellie a client of The Wall, but also an employee. She started off working at the front desk during nights and weekends in 2016. Then, during March of 2017, she started working for Manayunk based wedding planning business, Clover Event Co. This was all while Kellie was still working full-time in finance.
“For six to eight months, I was working seven days a week,” Kellie explained. “I knew I was pushing myself towards something that was going to make me happy, that was my passion, and that was going to make me feel good.”
Now, Kellie is the operations manager at The Wall, an associate event planner for Clover Event Co. and and is one of the co-owners of newly opened Liberty and Lace.
While Kellie had great experiences and learned a lot working in finance, she is beyond excited to open Liberty and Lace along with Julie Sabella, her colleague and owner of The Wall.
“It’s different when it’s yours,” she said about having high hopes for the bridal store.
Kellie has developed close personal relationships with not only both owners of The Wall and Clover Event Co., but also with clients of both businesses. Before she started working for the businesses, Kellie was a Clover bride and was a personal training client of Julie’s, and believes that this perspective helps her relate to customers.
“The funny thing is that it used to be me and in a way, it still is me,” Kellie laughed. “So, I know exactly what it’s like to be a Clover bride or a client at The Wall.”
She insists that open communication is crucial for building trust with customers, and while opening a bridal store is definitely new territory, Kellie feels that she is well-equipped with the skills necessary to run a successful business.
Manayunk has always held a special place in Kellie’s heart.
“It’s where my husband and I lived together for the first time. It’s where we got our dog. I’ve always loved Manayunk—it’s just so welcoming and it still feels small and manageable.”
She has made countless memories here and is excited to make more.
Meet Darnell James from Winnie’s Manayunk
When he’s not recruiting for The Dublin Group or working out at SWEAT Fitness, you can catch Darnell James bartending brunch at Winnie’s Manayunk on Sundays. Darnell grew up right outside of Philadelphia and attended Pennsylvania State University. During college, he had a close friend who worked at Winnie’s.
“He got me a job interview with Winnie,” Darnell said. “She was just managing then, but she hired me on the spot and I started as a busser. After a few years, I became a server, and then a bartender. I then became a manger, but now I’m just bartending because of my other job,” Darnell shared.
Darnell truly appreciates his returning customers from over the years.
“The customers and employees are wonderful — they’re very loyal to me,” Darnell said. “You know, it’s a bond that’s been built over time; it’s a long-term friendship. My relationships with them are something I truly respect and honor.”
Darnell loves the relationships he has made and enjoys his strong bond with owner, Winnie Clowry.
“It’s like a mother/son relationship. We’re really close,” Darnell said of Winnie “She hired me. She loves me like her own — it’s family. We have our ups and downs, but I have known her for a very long time.”
He enjoys making people laugh and ensuring that they are having a great dining experience. Darnell was taught by his mother to treat people as though they were a guest in his own home. He loves bringing a smile to someone’s face and the fact that when customers see him, “they’re going to have one of the best experiences at Winnie’s.”
While Darnell is no longer a manager, he still plays a pivotal role in the success of Winnie’s by ensuring consistent customer satisfaction at the bar.
He wants everyone to know that the food not only tastes really good, but fits every demographic out there.
“What I like about it is that, I like to watch my health and what I eat, and Winnie’s has everything from healthy fresh food to comfort food,” he shared.
From an outsider’s perspective, Manayunk may seem like any other town or a nice place to visit, but for Darnell, this is home.
“Everyone knows me here. It’s a great community; it’s like a big family. It’s very active and everyone wants to see the best for one another.”
Meet Samantha Sciolla Mykulak from Nicole Miller
It was the summer before Samantha Sciolla Mykulak’s senior year at Philadelphia University when she moved to Main Street, Manayunk. She passed by the Nicole Miller boutique, walked in, and immediately asked if they were looking to hire fall interns. At the time, Samantha was studying fashion industry management and found that everything she was learning in the classroom at Philadelphia University was brought to life through her experiences at Nicole Miller.
Samantha began her six month internship in August of 2009 and continued working part-time at Nicole Miller Manayunk until the following May. When she graduated from Philadelphia University in 2010, Samantha signed her contract with Nicole Miller Philadelphia and started working as a full-time Fashion Consultant. After nine years, Samantha has grown through many roles within the company, but her favorite is being Store Manager of Nicole Miller Manayunk.
Samantha speaks of Mary K. Dougherty, the store owner, in the highest regard. “When I walked in as an intern, I had no idea what to expect,” Samantha shared. “Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit has always inspired me to be creative, and spread my passion for fashion, service, and experience. That’s why I love what I do.”
“You can look for a lot of jobs in this world, but there isn’t one where you get to do it all,” Samantha said as she spoke about the philanthropy Nicole Miller does.
She explained how she was raised in a family that is very philanthropic, and she greatly appreciates the opportunities she has been given to give back to local charities because of Mary and Nicole Miller Philadelphia. Samantha has always thrived through her ability to make women of all ages, shapes, and sizes feel and look their best in Nicole Miller clothing.
“Nicole Miller designs encompass a woman’s figure so eloquently, whether it’s an outfit for work or a bridal gown.”
It’s clear that Samantha has many passions, not only for Nicole Miller clothing, but also for the fellow small businesses on Main Street and for Manayunk as a whole.
“Manayunk is a second home to me. It’s a huge part of my life,” Samantha said. “Manayunk is a community that is friendly, safe, and inviting. I am so fortunate to be part of something special here among so many talented and passionate people on Main Street.”
Meet Tim Vogel from The Goat’s Beard
Initially, it was Tim Vogel’s roommate’s idea to move to Manayunk.
“We got a house on East Street,” he said. “It was a fun time.”
Originally from the outskirts of Trenton, Tim went to Temple University and moved to Manayunk during his junior year when he got a job as a busboy and barback at Bourbon Blue.
“At the time, I was traveling back to Jersey every weekend to work, so I wanted something closer,” Tim said.
Over the past few years, Tim has lived in different neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, but remained working Manayunk. In 2008, Sean Coyle, the former owner of Bourbon Blue, sold the restaurant and opened The Goat’s Beard in 2013. At the time, Tim was looking for work, and was an easy shoo-in for a job as a bartender at Sean’s new establishment. With it came a sense of community, and a move back to Manayunk.
Working at The Goat’s Beard has given Tim the opportunity to make great connections with locals and visitors.
“A lot of people know me,” Tim said. You could say that I’m there to facilitate them having fun. I like to make sure people are having a good time, get what they came for, and if I can jump in to brighten their experience, then I try to do so.”
Tim tries his best to make people feel welcome at The Goat’s Beard. Some of the locals have turned into his life-long friends.
When Tim isn’t working, you can catch him on Main Street enjoying what Manayunk has to offer.
“The farmers market at Pretzel Park on Saturdays is a cool thing to do,” Tim said. “Really, just all the stuff that MDC does from Stroll the Street to the StrEAT Food Festival, and even the Manayunk Arts Festival. There’s always something to do to get people out of the house. Most nights on Main Street, you can find me at Lucky’s or Pitchers…or The Goat’s Beard,” Tim laughed.