Finding her normally busy self with temporarily idle hands, Jessica Paglia, a substitute school nurse and professional photographer, started to create custom pinecone wreaths she calls “Pinecone Memories” in tribute to her late mother. (Photos courtesy Alison Bridges Photography)

If there was ever a time to use the word “pivot” (in addition to moving a couch) it’s during the COVID-19 crisis.
Parents are turned into temporary teachers and snack dispensers, front line workers are turned into super heroes, and we’re realizing our worlds couldn’t turn without our grocery cashiers. Small businesses were dealt a rough hand, but by leaning into the new needs of their clients during the pandemic those who could adapt quickly have been coming up aces.
Jesse ‘J.R.’ Chance, owner and founder of BK Fabrication based in Preston probably never thought he would be creating anything resembling barrettes as his family-owned business focuses on marine fabrication while having also created custom items for distilleries, repaired items for the FDA and everything in between. But fabrication also has a high level of creativity so when his wife Amanda, a local ICU nurse, came home from the frontlines, the barrettes came to be.
“A negative aspect of the increased PPE protocols is the requirement to wear a face mask at all times. Most medical masks are designed to loop around the nurses ears, which after a 12 hour shift, takes its toll on these medical professional’s bodies,” JR Chance says. “Utilizing the 3D printer that I use to prototype different parts or designs, we found a readily available “ear saver” file and made a batch for her and her co-workers …to alleviate at least one small problem from these stressed hero’s days.”
When the ear savers became the new must have accessory, the shop went from using the 3D printing process and Chance decided to draw up a BK Fabrication custom. Using CAD design software and CNC plasma and laser tools, to develop and produce the ear saver, Chance makes them in stainless steel so they can be easily sanitized. His shop has been able to donate the savers to the hospital staff and a few other medical offices in town.,
“We were very fortunate to be considered essential as a critical manufacturing business and this was our opportunity to give back to the community,” he says.
To get your own ear saver for $2 plus shipping, follow the BK Fabrication page on Facebook.
Melissa Caughy, owner of Pretty Little Weddings is accommodating her clients with just that- pretty, and now, very little, weddings. According to the American Wedding study, the average number of guests for a wedding is 167- quite a bit higher than the stipulated gathering size of 10 in Maryland’s Phase 2 of its reopening plan.
“While we have had many couples postpone their big day due to the uncertainties of Covid-19, we have also had many couples opting for a smaller, more intimate celebration on their original wedding date,” Caughy says. “Some still plan on having a large celebration in 2021, but these ‘micro-weddings’ are definitely the trend for 2020 summer and fall.”
To help her clients not only shift their plans easily but also excitedly, PLW has developed a line of table collections that feature everything from gold dipped chairs to florals to chargers, everything a bride would need for these intimate yet special and highly designed backyard receptions. “We’re hoping that by going a little “over the top” with the design, it’ll help ease the pain of having to have a smaller celebration.” Probably the all-white bounce house with customizable florals and draping helps as well!
In addition to weddings, Caughy has had more calls to make other celebrations special, from creating a surprise sunflower themed prom for a group of seniors to helping husbands pull off a surprise anniversary celebration. While these moments are different, they will always be remembered with a smile. You can find Caughy’s collections at
Let’s face it, for many, homeschooling was a challenging adjustment and working on readin’, writin’ and new-age ‘rithmatic was stressful for parents, students and their teachers who suddenly found their classrooms empty.
When Marissa Muro, the music, theatre and interpersonal skills teacher at the Wye River Upper School in Centreville, found her classroom empty and her in-home studio unable to open, she turned to outside the box assignments and her studio opted for virtual lessons for voice, piano and monologue.
Muro, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Peabody Conservatory of Music of John Hopkins University, has both the passion for the arts and for her students. When assigning projects, she strives for them to be both fun and meaningful. Her Wye River students surely enjoyed putting their imaginations to work writing commercial treatments and filming commercials at home as one assignment!
Muro says she’s noticed a few great things coming from these new virtual mediums of learning and is excited to continue teaching with private lessons over the summer.
“Some of my older students have become more accountable. They take better notes and ask more questions,” Muro says. “Their readiness skills have greatly improved and they have become responsible learners.
Some of them are so excited that they FaceTime me ahead of time for their lessons!” As for her younger students, with more parents sitting in on the meetings it’s helpful for them to be able to work as a team to practice with their children as well, she adds.
As many in-person camps and workshops were cancelled this summer, Muro’s lesson offerings aim to still immerse youth in creativity and the arts. Contact Muro at
When the holidays and noteworthy events kept rolling around without being told that 2020 has been cancelled, Kristi Booze and her business, Kakes by Kristi, kept on celebrating.
Her cake creations of endless flavors are usually ordered for birthdays and special events, but during the shutdown, surely her fudge cupcakes with edible cookie dough centers helped the regular, but far from normal, days that called for something a little different.
Knowing kids were home indefinitely, Booze began to cater to the new normal by creating cupcake kits featuring 1/2 dozen cupcakes, 3 bags of homemade buttercream icing, and toppings to decorate. While she did special kits for Easter and Mother’s Day and has plans to do so for 4th of July as well, the kits are always available by request on her Facebook page “Kakes by Kristi.”
Some business-minded folks are finding their new gig to be something completely different than usual. Finding her normally busy self with temporarily idle hands, Jessica Paglia, who is both a substitute school nurse and owner of Jessica Paglia Photography, started to create custom pinecone wreaths. Named “Pinecone Memories,” it is a sweet tribute to her mom who passed away on Valentine’s Day 2020.
Paglia says her son Preston, 5, loved collecting pine cones with his “Beebe” and now it’s something he does with her and husband Matt.
Through with her photography business she’s been able to capture memories for families with quarantine doorstep photos and her long list of wreath orders has helped Jessica and her family during the shutdowns.
It’s also kept kids in her neighborhood busy in fresh air, as they help gather pinecones as well. Her creations, which take around 40 pinecones each, feature slices that resemble whimsical and woodsy flowers and are painted in customized hues to bring a little cheer to doors all around. For more information, follow Jessica’s Wreaths on Facebook or email her at
While the virus “and all that,” as we say on the shore, has undoubtedly changed so many things, a willingness to adapt and a want to help has helped these local entrepreneurs serve their families and their community.