This week's Nails of New York features Kristen Cesiro, art director for interior design startup Homepolish. In addition to building and managing her team, Kristen has also helped refine the brand persona of Homepolish, infusing personality with the modern woman in mind. Which makes sense. Kristen's minimalist style transcends into every facet of both her in-person and social presence, and her mindful curation and impeccable attention to detail make for gorgeous composition along with vignettes and places you simply want to get lost in.
As longtime admirers of her affinity for chic, simple nails, we're doubly fascinated with her observations of being emerged in a salon culture at such a young age and how it contributed to her friendly personality and deep-rooted desire for social salon experiences like Paintbox. Read more to learn about how she refuels her dynamic energy, how she uses her nails as an extension of her own style, and her mentality of hustle.
Why do you paint your nails?
I love finding ways to weave aesthetic and personality into different facets of my life, and manicures are no exception. Painted nails can feel like the finishing touch to an outfit, like an extension of my style or a fun way to accessorize without overdoing it.
When did getting manicures become important to you?
Growing up on Long Island, it was always about hair and nails. I remember going to the salon with my mom and being intrigued by the energy there–I loved the idea of stepping into a space full of women, each taking a sliver of their day to treat themselves, trade stories, skim magazines, and escape their lives for a moment. I think this is also how I became super chatty.
Can you describe your nail style?
What I get on my nails echoes my personal aestheic: effortless but intentional, quiet but confident, easy, unfussy, minimal, and neutral with subtle accents. I love nudes, beiges, and gray with gold or black detail. Recently I discovered the modern French manicure at Paintbox, Sheer Drama, and love how the design's contrasting edge adds an accent to a manicure that otherwise feels barely there.
What has your journey to becoming an art director looked like?
In hindsight it's been fun and rewarding, yet there were definitely times when it felt scary and confusing. When I first got to college, I was enrolled as a psychology major and after a year of putting off papers to take on creative side projects, I switched to a design major. After graduating I worked for a magazine but didn't like being niched in print, so I moved over to the digital space where it felt safer to take risks and experiment. I taught myself how to code and got more into photography and styling. But it wasn't until I worked at Gilt that I felt I was very close to what I wanted, pulling many of my interests and strengths organically into one space. Then I was introduced to Noa, the CEO at Homepolish who got me to join his team. When I started with them, I was the only one of the creative side, and since then I've built (and now lead) a team made of graphic design, UX/UI design, photography, and copywriting.
What has been your favorite project?
Refining our brand persona to better align with our company ideology and mission. I partnered closely with our Marketing Director, and we got to ask ourselves fun questions like, "if our brand were a person, how would she move through the world? What would she wear, where would she shop, what books would she read? How would she convince her best friend not to buy that dress or guide her through a complicated situation?" We formed this sassy, confident, cool yet kind woman out of the ether and developed a strategy on how to infuse this personality into all facets of the business.
What is the most rewarding and challenging part of your job?
Reaching my saturation point and feeling like I can't go any further. Working at a startup is like–at any given moment I'm either project managing, leading a creative vision, critiquing work, planning for the business, in meetings, individually executing or simply managing my team, and there are times when I want to just lay down on the floor and take a nap. But at an agile company you have to move, move, move. And if you're the most persistent in the moments when you think you're tapped out, you'll find there's a world of opportunity waiting for you on the other side (albeit yes, you'll be tired, but it's so worth it). Convincing myself of that in those tiring moments is challenging. Preserving the hustle is an art.
A favorite part of my job by far is all of the talented, inspiring, whip-smart, and supportive women it has introduced me to both at Homepolish and outside of it. Being in this world has connected me to so many fearless females, and I am beyond grateful I get to call them collaborators, friends, or better yet–both.
When do you get your best ideas?
Living in New York, it would be easy to say that I get my best ideas when I'm exploring the city, but the truth is that the bustle tends to block my creativity if I'm trapped in it for too long. When I get away from the noise, go offline and unplug, that's when the ideas start to come. Even just a quick jaunt to the Catskills or the North Fork elicits this feeling that I like to call "instant chill" that never ceases to help me reset, get inspired, and dream up ideas big and small.