THE BUZZ: “My Legacy of Love” is a stroke of genius

July 12, 2012 Denise Romano
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Nail artist Tina Panariello doesn’t just work in lacquer.

The Bensonhurst beautician also wields a pen with flair, painting a picture of the struggles she encountered becoming a pioneer in the nail industry in her autobiography, My Legacy of Love

Panariello grew up in the Lower East Side but moved to the Marlboro Projects in Bensonhurst in 1957. She has been in southern Brooklyn ever since. As she raised her son, Wayne, as a single mother in the early 80s, she sold jewelry, much like people sell Tupperware today.

“When I would show items, my nails were always polished. People would see it and say how beautiful they were. So, I started giving nail service as a gift to those who bought jewelry,” Panariello recalled.

Her fabulously painted fingernails made waves throughout the neighborhood and other parents at her son’s school encouraged her to start her own business.

“I worked from home, then went to theirs [customers],” Panariello said, adding that she also worked a job in the city late in the evenings to make ends meet. “I did everything but acrylic – manicures, silk and linen wraps. I even used teabags on my own nails for wraps! I can’t even remember if we had powder then, just glue and teabags. I played with everything. It was fun.”

In 1984, with the help of her parents, brother, uncle and boyfriend, she opened her own salon on 20th Avenue. She started out with 35 customers and within two years she had 200.

“I had a staff and worked long hours but it was all worth it,” Panariello said, adding that back then, there were not multiple nail salons on every block. “I only know of three other salons that were similar to mine at the time.”

By 1989, Panariello had won first place in the International Beauty Show and at the World International Nail and Beauty Association. Today, she has a total of 15 trophies. Panariello also taught classes in Puerto Rico, California and around New York State.

More recently, she spoke at the World International Business Association’s graduation in June and has already been asked to come back next year. Her book will also be given out to each graduate who wins an award for best set-design.

“But it wasn’t all peaches and cream,” Panariello said, adding that she has lost “everyone,” including her parents, brother and boyfriend since 2000.

In 1994, Panariello moved to Sebastian’s Salon, on 86th Street near Bay 32nd Street, where she still is today. Panariello makes beautiful, intricate designs on nails, using brushes and paint. “I started out using nail polish,” she said.

Panariello manipulates the brush using quick, small movements. She also uses two colors of paint at once, perfectly balanced on the brush, to create the look she wants. A few simple strokes create a beautiful flower. “The top coat brings it to life,” Panariello said.

Her book, which is going to be released on Easter Sunday, 2013, is meant to be a motivational tool. “I started from nothing and took it upon myself to get everything I could get my hands on,” Panariello said. “You can dream big and try it and go for it, but you have to love it.”

Look for My Legacy of Love

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