Four Glen Ridge Friends Create Private Salon Space for Women Battling Illness, Life-Altering Issues

The Roller Girls (left to right): Jodi Badagliacca, Cris McMahon, Venera Gashi, Karen Goldberg
The Roller Girls (left to right): Jodi Badagliacca, Cris McMahon, Venera Gashi, Karen Goldberg

Four friends from Glen Ridge have pooled their talents to transform a room in a local salon into a private space for cancer patients and other women in stressful situations to relax, revive and beautify.

When Jodi Badagliacca, a cancer survivor, and three friends, all empty nesters, were enjoying a Thai food dinner one night over the summer, and began brainstorming. They wanted to do something on a local level to help women battling illnesses access the restoring effects of attending to their appearance, but who felt self-conscious or vulnerable because of bald heads, scars, a sickly appearance or were just too weak and ill-at-ease, to handle the semi-public atmosphere of a regular salon.

“We wanted a place where patients going through chemo or other life altering treatments, could get their hair done or wigs styled and cared for, get their make up done, or have any kind of beauty service that will make their difficult days less difficult,” Badagliacca explained.

Badagliacca, Karen Goldberg, Venera Gashi, and Cris McMahon quickly found a willing partner in Donna Vaicels, owner of Salon Gossip, on Broad Street in Bloomfield, who had an unused room in her salon, and for a long time had been interested in providing just such a space.

The quartet dubbed themselves The Roller Girls (though some have been calling them Saints With Paint), and went about painting and decorating the space, including a wall mural, and adding other touches that provide an atmosphere of peaceful comfort.

“Two of us are cancer survivors and we understand how important the space you surround yourself with is to your spiritual healing,” Badagliacca added. “A space where someone would want to be when they are going through something difficult and did not want to be exposed to others.”

The room, now known as Om Sweet Om, was dedicated last week, in memory of a friend of the salon owner, who passed away from cancer about a year ago.

Roller Girls - Mural - 2

The Roller Girls have plans now to transform spaces in additional locations, and their individual skills and talents suggest they’re sure to succeed. Karen Goldberg is an artist, illustrator and teacher who works in oils. The co-creator of “Bumpy Books”, a learn to read manual for special needs and beginner readers, and the creator of “Funny Side Up”, a humorous book egg photos, Karen’s work is featured in many galleries and shops.

Venera Gashi is a student of Feng Shui, with a keen eye and great sense of color and space. Dedicated to combining social awareness and fundraising, she is a founding member of Goals For Life, a local organization of avid soccer fans and women players, who, via tournaments, raise awareness and money for womens’ charities and initiatives, including breast cancer and other causes.

Cris McMahon is a writer with a background in marketing for clients like AT&T, and is an active advocate for various causes. She also operates a new and quickly successful home improvement business.

Jodi Badagliacca has a background in advertising and marketing and has been involved with raising awareness and money for diabetes ever since her daughter was diagnosed 12 years ago. Jodi is a part time office manager in a dental practice with a special interest in patient advocacy.
Roller Girls at Work - 2

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