NISKAYUNA — Gabryelle Nigriny, better known as Gabby, had the curliest hair and the biggest smile. She loved to bake and cook, especially for her two children and fiancé. She had a lifelong appreciation for horseback riding and was an avid rider at Glenville’s Brook Haven Farm. She was also a fierce competitor on the basketball court all through her childhood until she was forced to retire in the middle of high school due to an ACL injury.
But perhaps Nigriny’s ultimate passion — and the way in which she made her mark in Niskayuna — was hairstyling. As the owner of Hair Razors Salon Spa & Boutique, Nigriny was a no-brainer for Niskayuna residents to get their makeup done or hair cut, styled, or colored. She was a saving grace, particularly for those with curly hair, who tend to need more specialized care than what a typical salon often provides. Nigriny, with tight curls of her own and several certifications to back her experience in styling curly hair, was an expert.
“She drew a lot of people … that could not find somebody outside of New York City to do their hair the way that they need,” said her mother, Elaine Nigriny. “She loved her clients, and her clients loved her.
“She was kind of a young fresh face to the Niskayuna hair scene that incorporated a lot of different things for people that maybe didn’t see that in other salons,” Nigriny added.
But on October 27, 2021, after a seven-day fight in the hospital with COVID-19 pneumonia, Nigriny passed away at the age of 29. She left behind her two young children Leo and Isabella, a fiancé she was supposed to marry this past spring, and her Niskayuna salon. At the time, she was one of the youngest people to die of COVID-19 in Schenectady County.
Now, Nigriny’s mother is fighting to uphold her legacy through the creation of a fund called The Gabryelle Nigriny Scholarship Fund. Elaine Nigriny created the GoFundMe in late June with the goal of raising $20,000. She hopes to use the money to pay for the education of a future cosmetology student or for the business of a current salon owner.
“My hope is to be able to raise enough to pay for someone’s schooling and pay for the whole thing,” said Elaine Nigriny. “That would be awesome.”
In order to be considered for the fund, applicants would need to submit a 100-word essay detailing how they would use the money. The two recipients would be chosen by Gabby Nigriny’s 12-year-old daughter, Isabella, who was close to her mother. Isabella’s participation, and the fund itself, is also an homage to the strong love and bond that Nigriny had with her two children.
“I thought it was something that would be really instrumental with the kids as well and helping them remember their mother and remembering what she stood for, and who she was, and how hard she worked and how much she loved them,” said Elaine Nigriny.
Elaine Nigriny also intends to use the fund as a way to honor the memory of her daughter, who had loved cosmetology since she was cutting her Barbies’ hair as a small girl to traveling to different states as a Master Stylist to educate other cosmetologists on the techniques of the craft.
“The reason why I started the fund was to just turn such a tragedy of her passing away at 29 years old and channel my grief and her energy in some way,” said Nigriny. “I was just trying to honor her memory and keep her memory alive.”
Right now, the fund is exclusively a GoFundMe fundraiser, but Nigriny is in the process of filing paperwork to make the scholarship a not-for-profit organization.
“The fund is going to transition into a not-for-profit… so we can choose different causes,” said Nigriny. “She was big into adopting animals from the shelter so that would be a great fundraiser the next time we do something.”
Another option includes paying for horseback riding lessons for a child, inspired by the hairstylist’s other lifelong hobby and passion.
For now, Elaine Nigriny just hopes to get the fund off the ground and running. So far, the GoFundMe fundraiser has raised almost $1,000 in less than two weeks. Nigriny’s next steps are to begin to promote the fund more publicly to get more support from the community and perhaps even from local businesses.
Until then, of course, Nigriny’s number one priority is to continue to do anything to remember the life of her daughter, who she described as “driven,” “fun-loving” and “caring.”
“This is what [Gabby] would want me to be doing,” said Nigriny.
Those interested in supporting or learning more about The Gabryelle Nigriny Scholarship Fund can view the GoFundMe at the link https://gofund.me/59cffa4c, or email Elaine Nigriny at [email protected]
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Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna