International Women’s Day is a day that is special to our team for SO many reasons. There are many uplifting & outstanding women doing things in every corner of society that it’s incredibly important we take the time to lift them up, today AND EVERY DAY!  Growing up and becoming a female business owner, wife & mother myself; there have always been women that have made an impact on my life for the better.

Last year, we celebrated the day by sharing some of the women that inspire us daily with a blog post highlighting them all. Little did we know, that a global pandemic would change our entire worlds just a few weeks later!!

It’s been quite the year for us all, so we wanted to check in with the lovely ladies that inspire us to see how COVID-19 has affected them. Check out these amazing women in the Capital Region as they share their highs and lows, and everything in between in our 2021 International Women’s Day “Glow-up” post below!

Ginni O’Malley- Mom and “GiGi”

My mother has been a rockstar throughout my entire existence. From raising me and my siblings to now babysitting my children on the drop of a dime, this woman has always been a sparkle in my corner, especially this year during COVID-19.

The Lows: 2020 was certainly a tough time for me as I had to weather the storm during my husband’s major surgery which was extremely tough on our family. We all prayed for a quick recovery, but it was certainly a tough time to go through during COVID-19.

The Highs: My husband and I moved next door to our favorite people and I even changed the color of my hair to give me a sassier look! I still am able to continue to help Katie & her beautiful family and seeing the smiles on my grandchildren’s faces is what keeps me going everyday!

Janet Cooper- Angela’s Bridal

The Lows: 2020 has certainly presented so many challenges for the shop, but we have adapted to all that has been thrown at us. From having to close our doors to change the way we handle our in-store appointments and processes, we have had to make quite some changes like many other businesses to get through the year.

The Highs: We have also experienced some of the most beautiful moments in our store, to date: from working with our amazing brides, to bonding as a team in a way that has made us stronger than ever before. So, what is next for us is: With the number of weddings postponed from 2020 to 2021 and additional 2021 weddings that we have committed to this year, we are going to solely focus on our commitment on receiving the bridal gowns and alterations for the 2021 season.  We will temporarily close our Angela’s store front to achieve this.  We feel privileged to be in this situation with the business stable, we can solely focus on delivering what we promised to our already purchased brides. We will reopen our sister store, A Love Story Bridal ( at its original location), store front, once the season is underway.  Love Story provides the speed at which we can continue to sell at, while focusing on what will be one of our busiest wedding seasons to date.  We announce the **reopen of Angela’s storefront, after the 2021 season, on our social media platforms, so make sure you are following along for updates!

Liz Halvorsen- Mess to Bliss

The Lows:

My professional organization business was put on hold and like many moms, I had to shift all of my focus on helping my high-school, middle school and elementary school aged kids while they were at home distance learning which was quite the struggle!

The Highs:

When things started shutting down in 2020, I took my own home organization projects that were looming like a dark cloud. I was organizing pretty much everything in my home including old bills/files and decluttering my kids’ closets (I even found size 8 pants in my 14 year old’s closet)!

In the fall, all of my children returned to in-person learning. Mess to Bliss was back and people were eager to have me back in their lives and spaces! After being on lock down for most of 2020, my business has grown from out of need to families wanting to get organized ASAP!

Here’s hoping the momentum continues into 2021.  And that I can once again, hug my cousin,  Katie O’ very soon! Follow me on instagram at @messtobliss to stay in touch!

Nicki Pezzulo

The Lows:

2020 was a horrifying nightmare in many ways; friends lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost dreams, and lost hope. Looking back at the photos from IWD last year, I remember feeling very convicted that the right location for the photos was home. In a way, it was a foreshadow of what was to come just a week later. I no longer work at the Capital District YMCA (although I LOVE and miss that organization…please support them), but my life certainly took a different direction in 2020. I now work for an incredible international organization called SOS Children’s Villages. But, regardless of who signs my paychecks, one thing remains the same: I am chiefly a mom.

The Highs:

Although it was hard (and still is) to juggle video meetings with a deservingly needy three-year-old (now four) in the background, I would not trade this unforeseen experience for anything. I have gotten to spend so much time with my precious child before she goes off to Kindergarten next year. Our conversations are long and fruitful. We know, love, and care for each other in a deep way that we may never have realized had life just hummed along. And our work-from-home antics have also provided plenty of laughter and levity for my colleagues. Given all of the loss and heartache, I look back with abundant gratitude for the sheer grace that God has provided my family and me.

This year, I am continuing to take just a couple of months at a time. I am SO grateful that all of Lucy’s grandparents are now vaccinated. I look forward to even more loved ones getting the vaccine. I look forward to the spring weather, and walks, to making more memories with Lucy, growing my relationship, putting my toes in the ocean, and hugging my friends in person…and maybe holding on for just a few seconds too long.

Randi & Nicole- Haute Messes in Dresses

The Lows:

When covid hit and the world shut down around us, we really had just taken the leap into our styling business, and we were faced with the reality that most of our plans that we were so excited to share were essentially dead in the water.

The Highs:

We brainstormed and acted quickly, and began to design custom tie dye and graphic apparel (something we most likely would not have ever done if not for covid). What could have been a devastating low turned into a major high for us and our business. We made so many connections through different collaborations and were even able to host a socially distant outdoor fashion show marked the only event of the summer!

We have big news coming right around the corner, and it will definitely be the most exciting part of 2021 for us! We are taking another major leap and expanding our business again, allowing us to return to our styling roots with a really fun twist! 

Genika Blandshaw – Juice Factory

The Lows:

2020…. the year of challenge, change, and learning to think outside of the box. It was a rough year for us all but we the Juice Factory had to face it head first and learn to shift with the changes.

The Highs:

We’ve learned along the way that we need more options that are healthy, but also fresh & fast. We’ve incorporated a mini-market within Juice Factory VII that will be opening very soon. Lots of fresh healthy options for those working professionals that are on the go, or your typical college student running late for a class.

More great news is that our sister store owned & operated by my 18-year-old daughter Osjah opened Street Taco VII in December. She is doing a phenomenal job and coming up with lots of creative ideas for her love of tacos.

Stepping into 2021 with loads of positive thinking with my foot on the gas! I have a couple of companies in the works and I am very eager to announce once I’m able to. We are almost to the finish line with this pandemic- I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Blessings to all my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners-we’ve had one hell of a year!

Elizabeth Jojo – Redburn Development

The Lows:

Keeping it all afloat and not letting anything drop was really, really hard! Exhaustingly hard. Sometimes debilitatingly hard. Drink a glass of wine at 4 pm on a Tuesday hard. But we all kept moving forward, and every day got a bit easier, and the sky ahead keeps getting brighter and brighter.

The Highs:

A high for 2020? That is a tough one. I am proud of my survival skills – my adaptability – and especially the adaptability of my children. I am so glad I got to spend more time with them while I worked from home for several months and they attended school virtually.

I was fortunate enough to find a group of moms in my neighborhood – though we had only been acquaintances beforehand, I have bonded with these women while sitting in a small gravel parking lot down the street from my house. Every Saturday we would bring our lawn chairs and our thermoses of Pinot Noir and sit 6 feet apart and let all of our thoughts and feelings and fears and hopes spill out into the potholes. This became a lifeline for me – The Gravel Girls as we call ourselves, born out of a pandemic and a text thread that had been about if the school bus was running late. It’s funny that something that separated most of us, brought some of us much closer together.

For 2021 I am excited to start to breathe a little easier. I am thankful that the company I work for, Redburn Development Partners, has continued to thrive into 2021, and I have even started to grow my own private design client base a bit more, something I love and that keeps my creative side fed. I am most excited for my children to be able to go to playgrounds and playdates and summer camp, and not have to worry as much as I know they have been worrying!

Megan Fahy – Megan Fahy Calligraphy

The Lows:

In March of 2020, my business was all but shuttered – I was receiving weekly chemotherapy treatments for Stage II Breast Cancer and I was only taking on the occasional event for my design work.  My world had already shut down, to a degree, but with the pandemic brought new stresses – I was juggling homeschooling my girls while getting to my daily radiation treatments. 

The Highs:

As I wrapped up treatment, I had renewed energy with nowhere to use it!  I wanted to do SOMETHING to support my community, and give back the way they gave to me while I was sick.  Inspired by a fellow calligrapher in Boston, I decided to paint messages of hope on the windows of shuttered small businesses. Working with each owner, I wrote an inspiring message of their choice – it was my way of brightening spaces that had gone dark with the reminder not to lose hope.  I ended up lettering windows for 40 businesses – restaurants, retail shops, hair salons, and perhaps my favorite wedding planner’s office 😉  I loved getting to connect with some of my favorite business owners and help them remind their clients this is the challenges presented by Covid were temporary – that, as one window read, the comeback is stronger than the setback. 2021 seems to be bringing the return of events!  I’m thrilled to be hearing from brides and wedding planners that are finally able to have the weddings they postponed last year.  Everyone’s future seems brighter – I love to see people’s cautious optimism for the return of happy events! 

Nora Matthews- Her Strength Studio

The Lows: The shocking news of the pandemic kept our studio doors closed for 6 months. This was devastating news to our industry, family, and clients as we just wanted to be able to focus on our mental and physical health during this tough time.

The Highs: We had to quickly pivot the direction of Her Strength in order to keep clients feeling safe and confident. We introduced livestream and outdoor fitness classes and developed over 20 online programs to keep women strong and healthy during the pandemic! The studio has since reopened for indoor classes and private training. At home, my husband and I decided to homeschool our 3 little boys for the 2020/2021 school year and have recently welcomed their fourth son, Benjamin in February, 2021!

Nicole Bradley & Danielle Palermo
-Superfecta Management 

The Lows:

Our low of 2020 was very similar to many people in the world trying to succeed in business-how could you pick just one?!  The moment we found ourselves at the very start of a global pandemic (that very day 3/16/20), as a matter of fact), our team brought on our first, and truly incredible full-time employee.  Not knowing if the timing of that decision was going to hurt us and the feeling of uncertainty while keeping our clients a priority was probably one of the hardest things we had to go through.  But like many other businesses, although our team had seen our fair share of lows during this pandemic, it was not going to stop us from doing what we love.

The Highs:

Although this was our hardest year in business, our highs of 2020 definitely kept us on a wild adventure.  One of the most rewarding aspects was being able to watch and assist each and every one of our clients pivot their business during the pandemic.  From our restaurant clients who were sustaining their business on take-out dining only and doing virtual cocktail hours to a local fitness studio creating online classes and moving classes outdoors, we can really say we’ve seen it all and adapted to the changes.  Although we never want to go through something like this again, our team understands what really matters and has turned our business into an empowered & dynamic powerhouse.  Our social media side of the business has grown significantly and we are proud to now serve over 25 wonderful clients in the Capital Region, and we are continuing to grow our company (with our full-time employee as well!) 

We couldn’t end this blog post without sharing our highs/lows on the year! Check them out below and how we navigated through the storm together as a team!

Katie & Casey’s High/Lows

Casey’s Highs/Lows:

The Lows:

While moving to Albany was such a high, the downtown businesses are hurting so badly from 2020 and it is sad to see how this has affected all the restaurants and shops down here. Most days the restaurants are closed and nothing is open on Sundays. But with all the revitalization Albany is undergoing I *hope* 2021 will help change this soon! 

The Highs:

Although 2020 was a crazy shift and halt to life as we knew it, 2020 brought great change and a sense of re-charge that I think I really needed. There were SO many awesome things that happened in the past year. The year started off with an incredible trip to Charleston with Katie, Nate, and my bf Justin. Followed by Justin and I getting the love of our lives, REMY! Being a dog mom has created this great balance in my life as well as a bunch of new dog pawrent friends. We then moved to downtown Albany which has been a new adventure! Closer to work 😉 and loving the downtown life (getting a lot more steps in haha). Although Katie and I had WAY fewer weddings than planned – we were able to focus on what was important with the businesses and change for the better!

Katie’s High/Lows:

Oh 2020… you were quite the year.  It was a year of growth, dedication, perseverance and love.  There is always love.  We are in the business of love and we saw so many highs throughout the year.  We witnessed marriages take place in the face of adversity no one could have planned or expected.  We saw vendors lean on one another for support, strength, answers and guidance.  We leaned on one another in ways we never had before.  Nate was my rock and held me when I just needed to be held.  Casey was my superstar and took the lead on hard days when I didn’t feel sparkly and simply had “enough of it all.”  We are a team, we are a force to be reckoned with and my biggest high of 2020 is that we lead with love and we will continue to lead with love.

Looking forward to 2021 we are so excited for our fellow women celebrated here.  We are honored to share in this circle of phenomenal women who we continued to be inspired by.  Here’s to a truly outstanding new year filled with brighter days, celebrations and LOVE!

What a year 2020 had in store for us all! Thank you to the wonderful women for sharing their highs and lows with us and for pushing through the year as strong, empowered women. Want to check out the original blog from last year? Click here to check it out.

Happy International Women’s Day! Cheers to a brighter year in 2021!