You know what they say about plans: Man plans and God laughs.
Bensonhurst resident Tina Panariello knows this better than most. She just wanted to be an actress, and set out to realize that dream. But, instead, she embarked on a life journey that took her from stage, to home-business owner, to struggling mom, to acclaimed artist. And now she begins a new life as author and mentor, telling her personal story of career evolution, and the trials and tribulations of living life, owning businesses in New York City, and how an obsessed hobbyist turned pro by mere happenstance – all in her autobiography, Polished: Filing Away At Life’s Truths.
Panariello was 11 years old when her mother chose to move her from her Manhattan home near the East River to Brooklyn, settling down in the Marlboro Projects in 1957. She attended Lafayette High School while she worked as an executive secretary. Eventually, Panariello moved on to get a two-year degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Panariello had a career in acting sparked after landing the lead role in Cabaret at Staten Island Community College. Her love of the stage eventually swayed Panariello to go into acting full-time, and she auditioned for roles both on- and off-Broadway. She owned her own children’s theater group and joined the Narrows Community Theater (NCT) for a time, during which she got pregnant with her son, Wayne.
Getting into the nail art industry was something that happened naturally for Panariello. When their son was young, she and her husband had a home jewelry business. Panariello spent her spare time dabbling with the small-canvas art of painting nails, and eventually her jewelry customers noticed the art on her own fingertips and wanted it for themselves. It started out small with several clients who she’d visit in their homes. From there, her business grew. Eventually Panariello decided to open a store called Nail Artistry by Tina, then located on 20th Avenue.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the store. During the late 80’s, the economy crashed, leaving Panariello with a struggling business.
“I almost lost my business. It was horrible. So, I had to make a decision. I had to go find a job,” Panariello said. “Between the salon and the job in Manhattan I was able to put food on the table for my son. That is how I did it. There was no other way.”
Panariello bounced back and eventually moved her business to another store at 2344 86th Street and has been there ever since.
Panariello has accomplished much in her 33 years of nail artistry, including being a nail art educator for OPI, a leading nail polish manufacturer and distributor. She has won several awards for her hand-painted nail art and has gone on to judge competitions.
The job has taken her to some exotic locations.
When Panariello was working in the city, for example, she met a woman who was impressed with her work and offered her an opportunity to teach a class in Puerto Rico. Panariello was flown to San Juan where she did several events, including television appearances. Panariello describes the trip as “the greatest part of her career.”
Panariello didn’t choose to write an autobiography. Originally, she wanted to make an art book and had contacted a publisher about that. When they responded, the publisher wanted something different then what Panariello had originally planned on making. They wanted her to write a story about her life.
Two years later and her book is ready to be released nationwide on July 2, 2013.
After accomplishing so much, Panariello is moving on to the next chapter of her life: mentoring. She has already been to a Brooklyn school to do just that and is planning to go to several other schools as well.
“I want to mentor. I want to speak to people of all ages and inspire them to go after their dreams because I did it and at the time I didn’t realize that everybody you meet in life mentors you whether you know it or not,” Panariello said.
Paraniello will have a book signing this Thursday, May 2, at St. Athanasius Elementry School, located at 6120 Bay Parkway, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
To learn more about Tina Paraniello, visit her website here.