Girls Nite Live: a virtual pandemic success story
Flashback to April 2020. Most of us were glued to our televisions and electronic devices for around-the-clock COVID-19 crisis coverage. If you were not glued to a TV or media outlet, you were affixed to your phone trying to get through to unemployment or some other bureaucratic agency, usually in an advanced state of vexation. Zoom settings were still a mystery and toilet tissue was a prized possession.
More unsettling, however, were the acute isolation and loneliness as a result of mandated lockdowns and distance from friends, family and colleagues. Long lines and low stock on grocery shelves created a sense of dystopian doom. Though social media addiction was already a thing for some time, no one foretold it to be the lifeline between our lockdown cocoon and the outside world. That’s when veteran businesswomen and philanthropists Shelly Fisher and Peg Casullo Hertrich took a desperate situation by the reins and created a curated and accessible space for entrepreneurs and experts from a variety of disciplines an opportunity to share their knowledge and connect with women around the world.
In the nearly 18 months since its inception in April 2020, Girls Nite Live has featured fitness, yoga, and nutrition experts, culinary and mixology demonstrations, wellness and travel seminars, skin care consultations, business and networking workshops, motivational speakers, authors, life enhancement coaches and a number of celebrities. With over 700,000 attendees thus far, Girls Nite Live has helped women connect when they needed it most, and continues to offer a supportive and interactive network that was conspicuously absent. To widen that reach even further, GNL has launched their Spanish-language broadcast, GNL Espańol. And no need to worry if you missed an episode—archived videos are available on their YouTube channel and the GNL website.
Lucire Rouge: How did you conceive GNL?
Shelly Fisher: I founded seven start-ups in my career. Each one was founded to support individuals and/or the community at large. I had a team in place with our other businesses that were well versed in supporting women and their challenges. So when the pandemic broke out and businesses shut down, I knew we needed to do something to support women whose income became compromised. The launch of GNL was originally meant to be a temporary support site until everything reopened. Of course, no one had any way of knowing a year later the need would be even greater than ever for an open and supportive community for women.
What led you to collaborate on the project?
Peg Casullo Hertrich: Shelly and I have known each other for a long time. When I had the opportunity to come work for her it was an easy decision. Our business ideals and values are very much aligned, which makes every day feel like an adventure. When I hear the words from Shelly, ‘I have an idea,’ I grab my pad and pen because I know something great is on the horizon. It is an honour to work for someone who wants to make this world better every day. So, when the pandemic hit, true to her nature, she knew she had to act. Thus, Girls Nite Live was born.
Why do you think women were so hungry for these empowering presentations?
We think that women are hungry for our workshops and seminars because they are able to build a sense of community and learn from the women whose careers, core values or interests are in line with theirs. Giving these women the chance to be heard is also empowering in its own right. Girls Nite Live allows for an open conversation where both the hosts and attendees are able to connect with one another, share stories and advice and become champions for each other. GNL has become a platform for women to come together from all over the world and support each other.
How did you find your first host?
We found our first guest through a team brainstorm, throwing out ideas and names of people who we knew personally, and they would agree to host a workshop or live chat.
Were you surprised at the enthusiastic reception from the onset?
We were excited and humbled knowing that what we built could help our audience in such a positive way. It was absolutely what we were striving to do, and when it came to life and we received the same feedback from our audience, we were thrilled. We were amazed at the support our programme presenters were getting from our audience—both in the financial and emotional areas. All of this was happening at a time when our entire world was in its darkest hour. GNL was a revival of the wonders of the human spirit. Since starting the site, we’ve received so many words of thanks and positive feedback from our audience. It’s truly a collaborative environment and creative space for women to share their stories, ideas and passions as well as learn something new.
How do you plan to proceed post-pandemic?
We look forward to hosting in the late fall, COVID permitting, in-person GNL events, as well as supporting small women-owned businesses. We do this with our live shopping segments, branding segments and new restaurant promotions. Once again, to help drive their exposure for brand messaging as well as sales.