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Progress in Pittston: Women leading the way

Newswatch 16's Chelsea Strub shows us dozens of women in Luzerne County are reinventing pieces of history to move one city forward.

PITTSTON, Pa. — As we celebrate Women's History Month here at Newswatch 16, we are highlighting women making an impact in their communities.

Newswatch 16's Chelsea Strub shows us dozens of women in Luzerne County are reinventing pieces of history to move one city forward.

For Joleen Lazecki, the co-owner of Blend Natural, opening a smoothie and juice bar inside the former Pittston Apparel Company, now known as the Waterfront Warehouse, is almost like continuing a family tradition.

"It's pretty incredible, because both my parents worked here, my mom worked here, so to actually be in this building and own something, a piece of it, is pretty amazing," she said.

In its heyday, the building was home to one of dozens of dress factories in Pittston, but now it's transforming into a place where many women own and operate businesses.

"It is again becoming another staple which is awesome to be in to be reinvented and revitalized and brought back to life. It's just incredible," added Lazecki.

Lazecki and her co-owner are not the only women business owners inside the Waterfront Warehouse, and they tell Newswatch 16 they were inspired by the first pair of women to open up shop inside the warehouse – the women who run the Salt Barre.

"For me, I started to take a class there, and I absolutely loved it," explained Lazecki. "And I was I really thought wow if they can do it, maybe I can do it too."

She's not alone. Erica Zangardi of The Cycle Yard in the basement of the Waterfront Warehouse says her inspiration to bring her business here was the same.

"They are not only my friends and my mentors, but they're just wonderful people, great energy, positive, and that's something that I feel very strongly about," said Zangardi.

These women tell Newswatch 16 this inspiring and supportive community of women business owners goes beyond the Waterfront Warehouse.

It goes all along Main Street with Sapphire Salon, Petals Fleurs, AH Baby and Co, Merle Norman Cosmetics, and Lolliposh Clothing & Gifts.

On Main Street, you can find women-owned and operated businesses.

"It's really exciting to be a part of women who are like-minded and have passion," said Caroline Nelson. "You know, not only for business but to most of us are mothers, you know and showing our children that you can have an idea and follow through with it and make it happen even if it takes a long time.

It took Caroline Nelson close to five years to open AH Baby + Co, a baby clothing and supply store in Pittston. She says her mother served as the majority of her inspiration but continues to succeed with support from other women in the city.

"(They) have been very supportive and lending guidance."

Rita Zarra echos that sentiment. She's the owner at Gypsy Angel Row, a boutique on Main Street.

"The people in the city are good. Mary Kroptavich is always around to help you if you need something. She's great," added Zarra.

But the support from the city dovetails with the support these women business owners get from each other; it's not a competition here.

"So, we definitely are all connected and like I said, just lifting each other up, supporting one another, and kind of just bouncing off ideas and really creating that like-minded community, and knowing that we women can do this and we've got each others' backs through it all," said Zangardi.

"We're all very supportive of each other. We post each other's Instagram, you know, tag each other. We visit each other's businesses," added Nelson.

"That, to me, has been the most amazing piece of being here in this community, and Pittston is the support that has come across, which then inspires us to want to support them and others as well. And it's been an inspiration for them too," said Lazecki.

That these women hope only continues with the ongoing revitalization here in Pittston.

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