What were you doing before the fog?
ALEX: When I'm not fogging, I am the CMO of a fashion magazine and website - as the CMO, I call myself the Cruise Director, planning all of the amazing events and activations for the magazine and our partners. March rolled around and slammed on my brakes big time, as 90% of our events had to be postponed or become something virtual. No offense to Zoom and the digital age, but a virtual event just is NOT the same as a live one, at least not to this extrovert.
This whole pandemic disaster inspired me to take action and find a way to help my beloved fashion and events industry. I saw so many people around me being furloughed, artists losing opportunities because there were no events, stores weren't open, restaurants were challenged, and it made me so angry! COVID-19 is such a nasty virus, I was really thrilled when the fogging technology came into my sphere of awareness and could be a tool for me to help out.
DEIRDRE: My background is fashion marketing and over the last ten years, I painstakingly built a boutique accessories brand called Candy Shop Vintage. (We are still alive! But we are now online only...). I was based out of Charleston, SC for over a decade and had a retail store there for five years. I was one of the lucky ones in that the end of my retail store lease coincided with the pandemic and under the current circumstances, I did not feel comfortable renewing the lease. Our in-store business was heavily reliant on foot traffic, tourism and events, all things that ground to a halt this year. I also have a young daughter, and juggling home school with a retail store on life support was nearly impossible.
How did we get here?
ALEX: At the heart of it, the answer is the power of social media. I saw Deirdre using the fog at her retail store in Charleston, and we had a witchy Big Magic moment and both expressed that we wanted to bring the service to NYC and Brooklyn. Things moved incredibly fast from there, and now, I'm here living my best Ghostbuster life.
DEIRDRE: Towards the end of my time in store, I decided to host one final in store "event" this past summer for a Charleston artist I loved. I was very nervous because the space was small and though we were sanitizing like crazy, I was anxious at the prospect of inviting more than a few people inside. The Holy Fog team came across my radar and did a quick demonstration of how quickly and easily they could disinfect a space with their dry fog technology without leaving a nasty residue on all of my beautiful store finishes and jewelry. They did a fantastic, efficient job and made everyone feel safe and comfortable for our final soirée. I instantly saw what an asset this could be to businesses like mine in New York who rely so much on tactile, in person experiences and after a meeting of creative minds, Alex and I decided to bring the fog up to New York!
How did you feel the first time you fogged?
ALEX: Honest answer, really nervous. The machinery looks really intense and is a bit intimidating - the air compressor is a BEAST. But as soon as my finger hit the trigger and I sprayed out that first dry fog, I was hooked. I get a rush every time!
DEIRDRE: I was also nervous. I am actually pretty handy and good with technology, tools and equipment, which I get from my Dad. I was trained thoroughly by the holy fog team and had been out on a number of occasions with them on various jobs with them. However, negotiating the mean streets of New York with our fogger has been a bit of a learning curve. I have really had to master the art of parallel parking, which I was previously terrible at. But, the first time I fogged on a job, it was incredibly satisfying!
What's your favorite part of fogging?
ALEX: Besides the rush I just mentioned, I love that what we are doing is helping businesses and events. I hate the coronavirus and COVID-19, I hate how helpless it made me feel at the beginning as it ravaged my city, my industry, my friends. Now, I'm fighting it and it feels awesome.
DEIRDRE: Probably meeting all the business owners in New York. The struggle during these times is very real, and every business has its own particular challenges operating under these trying circumstances, in addition to the universal challenge of sanitation. What strikes me, however, is the resilience and hope we feel from the New York community to persevere in spite of it all. New Yorkers are at their best when things are at their worst.
Favorite hand sanitizer?
ALEX: Marianella Hydrating Hand Sanitizer is everything. It smells great, it is hydrating, and it is made by a charming Mother & Son team.
DEIRDRE: Without a doubt, the EO Lavender Hand Sanitizer, when you can get it - it is so often out of stock! The lavender aroma is so relaxing and clean, it hardly feels like sanitizer.
Weirdest thing you did during quarantine?
ALEX: Besides starting a fogging company? Haha - at the beginning my freak flag really flew during lockdown. I think the weirdest thing I did was take my temperature with a meat thermometer because I didn't have a regular one here and they were sold out everywhere. That and I started a 5 day fasting cleanse the day lockdown started...what the hell was I thinking? I had this goal of emerging from lockdown like Cindy Crawford, and at that time I thought we were looking at 2, maybe 3 weeks of confinement. Clearly I am no psychic. I actually wrote an article about it (complete with super embarrassing old photos) - check it out...
DEIRDRE: Probably MAKE my own hand sanitizer. There was a period of time when there was a massive hand sanitizer shortage. As a Mom to a young child, I had a couple small travel bottles lying around but we were rationing it like crazy, giving the evil eye to anyone who squeezed out more than a drop, and it was running out. I was picking up a bottle of wine for Easter at a local liquor store and the owner had several bottles of Everclear on the front counter. She told me I was lucky and that I should buy a few bottles because it just came in that morning and would be sold out by the afternoon... I assured her, I wasn't planning a party or trying to make bathtub punch for Easter but she told me people were actually using it to make hand sanitizer. So, I bought two bottles and made my own at home. It was electric green because the cheap, green Aloe gel from Walgreen's was all we could find to dilute it. I had a few friends over for Easter brunch and gave them each a bottle in their Easter Baskets.
How has COVID personally affected you?
ALEX: The scariest moment of my life happened in early April, when my mom almost died. She didn't have COVID, instead she had a complete heart block that landed her in the ICU - they had to resuscitate her and put in an emergency pacemaker to get her through the night when it happened.
I got the news in lockdown in NYC, and she was in the hospital in Southern Virginia - as I spoke to her team of cardiologists and nurses, they told me I wouldn't be allowed to come and be with her because of COVID precautions. Rationally, I could understand this, but emotionally, I was distraught at the fact that I couldn't be with her, to hold her hand and support her, tell her I love her face to face. The silver lining was there weren't any COVID cases in the ICU ward where she was, so I felt slightly relieved. But after a few days they wanted to move her to general, and I learned that there were COVID cases on that floor. I was NOT having it.
I begged the nurses to keep her in ICU long enough for me to drive down from New York, and then release her to me, instead of to general, so I could take care of her at her home. They were so kind and delayed her "move to general" paperwork for 8 hours while I frantically packed my car and flew down I-95 to go get her.
It just brought it all into perspective for me. The lack of control, the inability to help, the fact that I was facetiming with her before surgery when she was so scared - I've never felt more powerless or alone, and my heart absolutely breaks for anyone that has lost a friend or family member during this time and couldn't be with them. This is when I really want to sob and scream at this horrible disease and kick its ass to the curb.
DEIRDRE: How has it not? Besides making the painful decision to close my beloved retail store, my business taking a massive hit as we lost many of our wholesale clients, I also found myself playing the role of a home school teacher. I never envisioned having to take over my child's education, but we were all flying by the seat of our pants when schools first closed in March. Since the fall, things have gotten more organized and my daughter is on a "hybrid" education schedule where she goes into school 1/2 of the time and does remote learning the other. It has taken a LOT of coordination on the part of myself and her Dad and there have been many tears, particularly over math - which has never been any of our strong suits. We all miss full time school!
It has also been hard for her not to see her friends and have limited interaction with her grandparents. I have an immune compromised parent, so we've only seen each other a handful of times - outdoors & socially distant since March. It is really difficult.
Favorite scene in Ghostbusters?
ALEX: The entire movie is iconic, this is hard to narrow down. If I had to pick one, I would say the scene when the secretary Janine gets their first real call, and screams "WE GOT ONE" as she hits the buzzer. That's how I felt when we got our first client...I was sliding down that fireman's poll like Bill Murray, so excited to go out and germbust.
DEIRDRE: I re-watched this recently and I have to say, my absolute favorite scene takes place not far from where I am currently living on the Upper West Side. It is when Louis the accountant (played by Rick Moranis) is being chased through Central Park by one of the large, evil dogs. He pounds on the glass outside Tavern on The Green while people are dining inside, desperately seeking their help. They sort of all stop eating for a second, look at him then shrug him off as just another New York crazy, at which point he is attacked and becomes possessed. It takes a lot to phase New Yorkers!
Love most about New York?
ALEX: The energy of the people, our strength and resilience. These days I wear my New York or Nowhere sweatshirt all the time (when I'm not in my Dickies FCG uniform). I love that NYC is a place where you can leave the house thinking you're going to have one kind of day/night, and through a series of encounters, you can end up doing something completely different and better than you could have imagined - meeting new friends, unearthing a gem of a restaurant, discovering art in unexpected places. There's no way this pandemic is going to take our city down - we are too strong.
DEIRDRE: The resilience of the New York Community and willingness to help each other out. I have found everyone to be extremely respectful of social distancing measures, wearing masks and trying to support local businesses. Like I said, I think New Yorkers are at their best when things are at their worst. There is a silent pact amongst New Yorkers who stick it out that you just put your head down and move forward, no matter the challenges. It is a great attitude to adopt in life.
Best NYC moment?
ALEX: There are too many to name. Working in fashion events, I've gotten to experience some fantastic moments - taking a shot with P. Diddy after the CFDA Awards, staying out all night after the VMAs with my best friend Lacy and going straight to work the next day (where I massively messed up a PR mailing thanks to my hangover, oops), dancing until dawn in Washington Square Park with two of the most fabulous men you'll ever meet...I could go on and on. These days, I always take a deep breath and exhale gratitude that I get to live here, every time I ride my Vespa over the Williamsburg Bridge. New York - we've got this!
DEIRDRE: In my twenties I was standing over a grate outside a restaurant with a group of friends. I had a mid-length skirt on and it blew up to my shoulders in a classic Marilyn moment. As I screamed then tried to fix it while my friends laughed hysterically, a homeless man ran up to me and handed me a dollar.