Monika Cornier, born and raised in Hungary, is the visionary and talent behind Colorvat Nail Studio, a training ground for all things fabulous in the world of nail art, and now open to the public 6 days a week. Colorvat is closed on Mondays for nail education.
I have wanted to do a piece on Nail Art for some time, but admittedly had trouble finding the right studio. I do not like to get my nails done; but, I have to as my cuticles grow at a rapid pace and my nails are thin and often brittle. I do not feel put together without a clean manicure, so I endure this errand at a local salon for a gel manicure, and usually visit every 2 or 2.5 weeks.
It seemed that I wanted more than just a gel manicure. I wanted an experience and something that I could look forward to, instead of feeling like I had this bi-weekly obligation. So off and on, I searched for a studio that could balance creativity and talent in execution, while creating an experience.
Oddly, I can find anything in New York City except that “special” studio and it was frustrating me. We have nail salons everywhere and often two or three locations on one block. This offers a fabulous convenience for the pop-in visit and I am certainly not knocking those places. As a matter of fact, some of them are wonderful little havens to visit, but I wanted something special with more choices in colors, gel types, chromes and in the best case scenario, a re-invention of my ‘always square, usually light pink, nail’ that I have adopted simply out of convenience, which was no reflection of my love to push the envelope with fashion statements.
On yet another hunt, I discovered Monika’s work on colorvat.com. I found her work exquisite. Aside from sparkly pigments and rhinestones, because those are wonderful but not impossible to find, I found angora printed nails, glossy ombre, tiger eye and chrome polishes with unique design add on’s that varied from a miniscule wristwatch to a skeleton head. The studio’s specialized focus in gel, nail reconstruction and hand made art seemed to fit the bill.
In addition, Monika is a distributor of Crystal Nails®, a product with over 40 types of builder gels, over 500 color gels and 300 CrystaLac gel polishes. In a market that is saturated with CND Shellac and OPI (both of which I love by the way) I was ready to try something new.
Seek and Ye Shalt Find
I scheduled my appointment on the Colorvat website. I spend a lot of time on West 79th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway and had no idea where this nail studio was. I could not place the location, and eventually realized that the studio is on the second floor, hidden above the Oriental Lamp Shade Co. The door is marked 223A on W 79th Street.
223 W 79th Street, Suite 2,
New York, NY 10024
The fun thing about New York for the consumer is commercial space and design leave hidden gems everywhere. While this is fun for the consumer, it tests the marketing genius of the business owner to develop ways in which to get discovered when off the beaten path. While it is a challenge, it is not impossible if the product is impeccable. I will take this opportunity to remind you that the first Soul Cycle location was located in a back lobby on West 72nd with the smallest signage you could imagine and, well, if you haven’t heard what happened to Soul Cycle…has anyone not heard of Soul Cycle?
Up to Nail Nirvana
Anyway, I rang the bell and went up some stairs to the second floor. A man named Steve was holding the door open for me and greeted me warmly.
Do you ever just walk in somewhere and feel a really great energy?
Two pedicure stations and two manicure stations are situated in a pristinely white, minimally designed studio with bright light and exceptional sun exposure for a second floor location. Pink accents are tastefully placed around the studio and are serve a purpose. Pink nail art brushes with rhinestones, pink nail dryers and tastefully placed flowers showcase the main décor-any and all types of nail polish.
I knew I was going to have fun.
I was greeted by Monika, the owner and my technician. We had a rather in-depth discussion about my nails. I expressed my concerns with how hard I am on my hands and how I want a change and something a bit more glamorous. I was currently wearing gel and needed a gel removal, as well as a reapplication of gel polish. I explained that it seemed my fingers looked shorter than they really are and I would love a more elongated look to my fingers.
Monika removed my old gel and began work on my cuticles to elongate the nail bed, the first step in creating a longer look for my hand. Monika explained that I needed to ditch the square shape, as it shortens the finger. We would build strength in my thin nails by using a hardener that would accentuate the shape and protect my nail. I explained that I am very hard on my hands and not only am I typing constantly, but cleaning, washing my hands and my house, and playing sports take quite a toll. My winter sports schedule is likely the reason for the brittle nature of my nails and this building out of the nail promised to let my nails grow and extend the life of the manicure.
I could not decided between three colors, one lavender, one blue and one green; I was making a conscious effort to avoid my usual variation of pink. While Monika reshaped my nails with a precision that I have never experienced, she assured me that she would incorporate the lavender and blue. I found myself very relaxed. In contrast to the usual shifting in my chair and checking my phone repeatedly, thinking of all of the other things that I could be doing, I sat back and allowed Monika to perform her magic.
Monika is so knowledgeable about nails. She trained for 1000 hours in Europe and then practiced for one year. This is standard practice in Europe vs. 250 education hours and 0 post-education hours in the United States. An educator herself, which is impressive, pales in comparison to her passion. She explained every step and move that she did on my hands, and why she was doing that step which put me surprisingly at ease. I instantly trusted her and that was a liberating feeling for me. I did not feel that I had to watch every move; I could simply enjoy the service.
When the gel polish application began, Monika surprised me with a simple, serene design on my ring fingers. Not only did she incorporate the colors that I could not decide between, but she used chrome. Earlier in our conversation I told her how I had searched for a studio that used chrome polish and could not find one. Not only did she hear me, but she listened to me, and added just the smallest chrome detail to her off the cuff, sophisticated, yet fun design.
Before and After
The end result are nails that I continue to stare at and admire. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they should last until the end of February (my appointment was on February 3rd.)
While her price for gel is slightly higher at $55 vs. $45 at regular salons. If I cut visits down and have longevity out of the polish, I will actually save money; and time. I can not say that I mind the higher price point because the quality is far superior to what I have had in the past.
Colorvat is worth the visit to the residential Upper West Side, whether you are visiting from out-of-town or as a permanent resident seeking New York glamour.
No question that your nails will make your day…
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Writer with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. Her credits include Sales and Marketing for with PRADA USA Corp., followed by a jump in to the world of beauty as an Esthetician followed by Spa Manager at Jurlique, Spa Manager and Client Relationship Manager and Digital Business Development coordinator position at Amore Pacific where celebrity clients were and remain confidential and her column, “Ask Angela,” was featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. She has also been a contributor for Beauty to Shape and Fitness Magazines.
A side job as a Hospital Victim on “As the World Turns,” and a correspondent on the now defunct lifestyle web series “Tangerine Living,” Angela is no stranger to juggling multiple positions and has built quite the resume. A move to The New York Daily News as Training and Employee Relations Manager with a night and weekend gig as make up artist for runway shows, (she studies in Los Angeles with Amy Ward) including Vogue Bambino and multiple commercials, Angela became a Mom, her best and most important credit to date.
Since Motherhood, Angela has been a Brand Ambassador for the skin line Patchology, featured in Saks Fifth Avenue in store and on air with CBS News segment “Patch me Pretty.” She has been a beauty guest for QVC, and the founder of her own social media communications business, helping business owners to share their digital voice. Actively involved with Smart Children with Learning Differences, her most favorite down time hobby is discovering the best in beauty, travel and fashion around the United States.
Angela is a graduate of Syracuse University with a BS in Communications and Writing, where she appeared on the University Union News as an Anchor and on The Beat of Syracuse, Z89 as a DJ. Angela has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Working with Alphaluxe is a unique opportunity, “to share what I am most passionate about. Living your best life. In her spare time, you can find Angela running, practicing yoga, taking her son to one of his sports practices. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband, son, and chihuahuas.