Nails of New York: Antonia Cheri
Nails of New York: Antonia Cheri
Our latest Nails of New York features Antonia Cheri, our beloved hand model and Paintbox friend. An incredibly-lovely human, Antonia approaches every interaction with kindness, grace, and love. Also, she is just as moved by nail color theory as we are. "The colors I'm wearing contribute to my energy," she says. We're so proud to share her inspiring story of her journey to become a hand model, how she uses colors to express her truest self, and her favorite spots to explore in NYC.

How’d you get your start as a hand model?

I stumbled upon hand modeling accidentally. I was visiting my mother, who was the Model Bookings Editor of then Fitness, now SHAPE magazine, and they just so happened to be shooting a calorie-counting story at her office that day. My mom suggested I go up and lend a hand. The photographer snapped a bunch of shots of me holding different desserts and in the end, an image with my hand atop a mound of doughnuts ran in the magazine. With my published image in hand, (otherwise known as a tear-sheet in the industry), I decided to try my luck. I sent it around to a few agencies that represented models that make a living modeling their hands and feet. Shortly thereafter, I landed a meeting that changed the course of my future. The timing was perfect, as I had just graduated from high school and was entering college. My hands were inspected from top to bottom, and from the inside out by one of the top agents. I signed the same day! Before I knew it, I was not only a college student but a hand model, as well.

How do you pick your polish shades and color combinations?

My mood 100 percent has a direct correlation to my mani choice. I live for a good nude, and it’s always a staple for me but if I’m feeling sassy, a hot pink, a deep coral, or teal accent will do. If I’m playing it safe but still want a little action, a neutral color with a hint of iridescence is what I’ll opt for. Nail length and shape is a biggie for me; with the right length and shape, I feel like I can rock any color. 

In one word, how does your manicure make you feel?

Polished! No pun intended, but I feel totally together when my nails are done. The colors I’m wearing also contribute to my energy. When I’m wearing a good nude, I feel like myself: confident, smart, with a sense of tranquility. When I’m wearing a bold color or an intricate design, I feel daring, alive, and creative.

Any funny, nostalgic nail moments?

Yes! My first real memory of loving and appreciating nails was from the supermarket. When I was little and my mom would take me food shopping, watching the women at the register was my favorite part. Long nails that clicked and clacked over the register keys was everything to my 7-year-old self. I’m talking bright red claws that curved over at the tips and the sound of them clicking the keys was pure joy to my little ears. I would go home and put paperclips on my nails to replicate the whole scenario at my toy register. Another nail memory that stands out to me is getting my first marble French tip design on acrylic nails. I was 16. I’d been begging my parents for fake nails for months. At that time, all the girls were rocking marble French tips with a gold or silver line under the marble. The shape was square. Not the marble you see on girls today that look more like kitchen tile or tabletop marble but “old school” marble. Google it :-)

Four things you're into right now?

1) Reading Twitter comments after each episode of the hit TV show Insecure. 2) Writing and creating content ranging from beauty, health and fitness to education, culture. and social justice. 3) Blending art and history to tell untold stories, or stories less spoken of. 4) Night time rides on the Revel scooters

Where are your favorite spots in NYC?

Strolling through the Upper West Side; thrifting at Housing Works in the West Village; dinner at The Boil; pina coladas + people watching at Johnny’s, in City Island; and hanging out at Lovers Rock in Brooklyn.

How do you press reset and relax?

Lighting my favorite scented candle; the scent is Chamomile Lavender. Being alone in a quiet space to think and just vibe out. A glass of Prosecco helps too.