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She saw the sign

Bianca Piazza was introduced to astrology at an early age thanks to her mother. “Growing up, my mom could never recall the names of my friends or boyfriends—but she could always remember their signs,” she says. Conversations between Piazza and her mother would often consist of comments like, “Of course you two are in a fight; she’s a Capricorn,” or “I would stay away from that Gemini if I were you.” Piazza’s mother remains her biggest supporter, and as she grew older, she discovered there are personality traits—both good and bad—that are undeniable in certain zodiac signs.

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Piazza was born and raised in Rochester and insists she was always terrible at art despite loving it and even worked in a high-end gallery in Florida for several years. She has a master’s degree in psychology from London Metropolitan University. Though she’s not pursuing psychology as a career, she thinks her background likely has some influence on gauging personality traits. “Online dating also helped with my astrological education,” she adds “I would avoid certain signs if I could!”

She launched Harsh Astrology during the pandemic and says, “Prior to COVID, I was a brand ambassador for multiple breweries, ran themed speed-dating events at local venues, and had a long-running children’s entertainment business, Starlite Princess Parties. The pandemic severely impacted all of those jobs, and I knew local businesses were also struggling, so I decided to do as much as I could to support them.” That year, Piazza ordered all of her Christmas presents from local artists, becoming inspired by her talented peers. “While I was desperately trying to bring in extra money, I brainstormed ways I could create something people might like with my very limited artistic abilities. I love to make people laugh. Everything felt so heavy and depressing during the pandemic—I wanted to create something to make people smile. Having said that, I am also a deeply cynical and sarcastic person. So, I wasn’t going to make motivational stickers or ‘Hang in There’ posters. I had to put my own twist on it!”

Leo Loser               Libra Design

New Virgo               Pisces Dreams

Sagittarius Zodiac               Taurus Keep It Real

Erika Sorbello of Gallery Salon was the first person to take a chance on Piazza’s stickers and magnets. “I am so grateful for my start in her beautiful space.” Harsh Astrology products can still be found there as well as at Notion, Parkleigh, Bayberry, Figgy, Little Button Craft, Eclipse Boutique, and in Buffalo and Syracuse.

Harsh Astrology has also allowed Piazza to connect and collaborate with others. Local artist Laura Wolanin (this month’s cover artist), had a dream about creating a new animal series. “In the dream, she decided it had to be chickens, and, for some reason, she wanted to know what their signs were, so she reached out to me for advice.” The project became a calendar, Astrology Is for the Birds, and took about six months to research and create. “Our coffee meetings were some of the most bizarre conversations that I’ve ever had in public,” says Piazza, describing their deliberations over whether the Buff Orpington chicken should be Taurus or naming the Aquarius chicken Professor Broccoli. They also decided to only include chicken holidays and no human holidays (fun fact: May 4 is International Respect for Chickens Day). Working on the calendar also inspired Piazza to become a vegetarian after touring Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen—where a portion of calendar sales benefit several chickens. “It’s a fantastic place where farm animals who have been severely mistreated can live their lives in peace. We recently made a donation of $180.00 to one of the roosters there named Stephen, and it makes my heart very happy. Next year, we are planning a cat calendar with proceeds going to a Rochester cat rescue organization.” 

Describing herself as “the biggest Virgo who ever Virgoed,” Piazza has a knack for planning and organization and has been running RocOnly Events for the past two years. Even before selling at events, she knew what artisan shows she loved attending as a shopper. “I wanted to be able to create event opportunities that were a win-win for all and highlight fabulous local venues and artisans while providing unique shopping experiences for Rochester.” Piazza is also a contributor to Unlock the Roc, a women-led Facebook/Instagram group that shares what’s great in Upstate New York. “We try to highlight local businesses, events, and entrepreneurs, and provide a place for tourists and locals to ask questions and start discussions about our awesome city. I have so many jobs; I’ve embraced this new and wonderful gig economy and will never work a nine-to-five again. Time is our currency, and I want to do as much as I can with the people I love. Speaking of love, I love Rochester. I love this city so freaking much I want to yell it from the top of a mountain!”

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At shows, Piazza typically displays her Harsh Astrology stickers in front of her table or tent for people to read before coming over.“ My favorite thing is to see them laugh and joke with their friends or family. I give myself a pat on the back when I hear someone say, ‘That’s so YOU!’” If she can offer any advice, it’s to not take yourself or life too seriously. “At the end of the day, the stars are to blame!”

Bianca Piazza is on Instagram at @harshastrology and@roconlyevents.

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