This week, we got in touch with Francine Camardella of FC Cornerstone to find out what it’s like owning a business in the male dominated field of construction. Along the way, we learned about some of her favorite projects, how she thinks women have a leg up, and what some of her favorite parts of remodeling a home are.
So, how long have you been in construction?
I have owned my own business since 2010. I previously worked for a contractor for a few years before that.
How did you get into construction?
My father was a contractor, so it has always been something that I wanted to do. When I was a child, I would follow him around and ask questions on what he was doing.
You know your way around different tools?
I can wield a hammer, use a drill, screwdriver, pliers, saw, hang wallpaper and paint. Basically I can fix most simple repairs from hanging drapery and wallpaper, fixing leaks, repair drywall.
What did you like working on the most when you were a kid/teen?
I have always had a love for art, architecture and old furniture. I would paint or refinish furniture. I took drafting and shop in high school.
Did you stay in construction after school?
I didn’t start out in construction. I went to college and have a degree in accounting. My first business was a garden center/nursery.
How did you start your own business?
I studied for the Home Improvement test and passed. I then took courses in Lead Abatement and OSHA safety courses.
What is it like being a woman business owner in a male dominated field?
It is not difficult once you get passed the initial introductions. At first most clients think my foreman is the owner of the company but once they realize that I am the owner, they have a certain respect that a woman would venture into a male dominated field.
Are there advantages to being a woman when working with men?
I do think there is. Women process ideas differently and bring that to the table. As a woman, when doing a kitchen or bath, I know the functionality of the inner workings and can incorporate that into the design. I also have a great crew.
Can you tell us a bit more about being a certified MWBE (Woman-owned business enterprise)?
A woman owned/minority owned business sometimes have more opportunities to bid on jobs because there is a quota that needs to be filled when bidding on government projects. It doesn’t come into decisions when working with homeowners.
What’s your favorite part of remodeling a home?
The best part for me is when a customer sees the finished product, whether it is a kitchen, bathroom or something as simple as a new paint color.
Are there commercial projects you really like?
I did an office build out a few years ago from start to completion. It came out beautifully and it was wonderful to work with the owner.
What have been some of your favorite in Westchester?
My favorite was two apartment renovations in New Rochelle. They both were total renovations and they came out beautifully.
What’s it like to run your own business? What’s it like to be on reality TV? We asked Gianelle Liscio, aka Gigi, one of the stars of Jerseylicious, about her current product line of hair extensions, what it’s like to be a woman business owner, and her feelings on social media.
Were you the one who was always stylizing everyone before the family play? Or were you the one directing It?
I was always the one to do everyone’s hair before they went out. As a woman, when your hair is styled just right, you feel so beautiful.
It seems you had a bigger goal than just being a beautician, yeah?
I always knew that I wanted to be a hairdresser, and I also always knew I wanted to be on tv. It was great that I was able to be on a television show about something I love. As a little girl I would cut and style my Barbies hair all the time.
What was your first job?
My first job was at a salon in white plains, I started off as an assistant and then trained with top colorists.
After working so many years as a hairdresser, how did you get caught up in a reality show?
A girlfriend of mine told me a high end salon in NJ was looking for hair colorists and stylists. I applied for the position, and then found out they were going to be filming a show based out of that salon. Crazy how it happened.
Besides it bringing exposure to what you do, did you have any goals when it first aired?
My goal was to really reach my highest potential as a colorist. When it first aired I wanted people to see my work. It truly makes me happy to know that I have the ability to transform someone’s appearance and make someone feel good. That brings me so much joy.
What was being on a reality show like? Did you have cameras filming you when you woke up in the morning?
It was very overwhelming at first to see the cameras in front of me all the time. After a few weeks, I was used to it and it didn’t bother me at all. We always knew when we were filming, so I didn’t have a camera in my face when I woke up in the morning, thank god! Haha
Being from Westchester, why was the show based in New Jersey? Why did they want you?
The salon was based out of NJ, so it was around that area. I worked and lived out there for five years.
Do you think there’s a stereotype the show was trying to portray?
There was definitely a stereotype, with Italian-Americans. They definitely liked the “guido”look. I think a lot of our styles changed as we got older. Well…some of us.
What were your best times of the show?
My best times on the show was when we all got along. We did spend numerous hours filming, and we really were like a family.
What were the worst?
The fighting. I hated to fight on camera, just made my nerves go crazy. You also don’t know what will be edited, and what you will look like on screen.
After the show, did you have an idea of a business you wanted to pursue?
I wanted to pursue my hair extension line. I specialize in hair extensions including clip in, tape in and fusion remy hair extensions.
Was putting your life out there in public worth the scrutiny? Has it paid off?
For business, it was definitely worth it. But I would never put my personal life out there again.
Can you tell us more about your current line of products?
My current line of products are remy hair extensions. Extensions add length and volume to your own hair. I also supply wholesale to salons and hairdressers. They can provide their clients with the best remy hair extensions on the market.
What was it like to get the ideas you had in your head turned into an actual product?
It took a few years to bring my idea to fruition. I searched for the best quality on the market and there are so many different types of hair extensions out there. I wanted my clients to feel their very best, which is why quality is everything when choosing the hair. It’s very important to cut and blend the hair also, you don’t want it to be noticeable that you’re wearing extensions.
What is the process?
The process is to first match the hair, and then ask what length they would like. Length come in 14-24 inches. The extensions could also be colored to match their hair exactly.
Do you think there are certain disadvantages to being a woman starting her own company?
I think if you work hard, anything is possible. I think if you stay focused and motivated you can achieve anything. It is certainly not easy, and it’s not for everyone.
Are there any advantages?
There are advantages of being your own boss, not having to answer to anyone, making your own schedule, but you are working twice as hard. No one is going to do the job like you do.
Do you still enjoy the work you do?
Yes I love what I do and I enjoy giving my clients the absolute best. Making them look good and feel good bring makes me so happy.
How do you feel about social media? Does it work for your business?
I’m not a big fan of social media, I post here and there, but I want to post more content for all my followers to see. I’m not the best at it! Haha