Individuality through manicures at Champion Nails in Tobago.

When I arrived in Tobago almost a week ago, I was captivated by the beauty of this island that has yet to be fully modernized. With waters so blue green that you can almost see the bottom, one can’t help but be swept away by the experience and the culture here. Everywhere I went, I saw nails of different shapes, colors and patterns. Then, the thought crossed my mind: what would it be like to get your nails done on an island that is not yet fully modernized? Now, I’m down for a trial of new things perhaps a bit more than the average person, but I did want to make sure I was going to the best that the island had to offer. With a bit of help from my cousin, I found Chami, owner of Champion Nails in Tobago.

Chami was beautiful and charming welcoming us into her home. We walked through the house until we approached a room that was shielded by a bright curtain. Upon entering, I saw that it was set up with one nail station. I started questioning what I was doing here. Why was I allowing a complete stranger to do my nails in their home with dirt roads all around? Why was I going to let this girl create coffin nails on me? What was I thinking? This place has a curtain for a door… is it clean? It looks clean, but not U.S. nail salon type of clean. Should I leave now?

Hesitantly, I sat down and immediately all of my worries went out the window. Chami was clearly well educated on her craft and spoke to us with a straightforwardness that you can only expect of a Trinidadian. I would know. My mom is a Trini herself.

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It was refreshing to say the least. She let us know that she would only do a shape that was “nice right now.” Perfect-I wanted a coffin nail and I was venturing out of my box and getting a neutral color. NEUTRAL. This is a big deal for me, you see. I’m all about a black nail. Black makes me feel powerful. And yet, I was allowing this girl, in her home, on an island, to give me a neutral shade coffin nail and praying that somehow I would feel like a queen afterwards. And let’s be honest, isn’t that the best part of getting our nails done?

Throughout this process, I learned much about Chami. She was about to go on a much needed break for a week though she was not yet sure where. She has been doing nails since 2011. She hadn’t eaten all day because she was so busy. I told her to go eat. The whole house smelled of delicious palieu. I almost went and ate it for her – but she refused to stop until she finished our nails.

She doesn’t currently believe she will ever get married. This is a phenomenon that’s happening worldwide. She loves a good lime and drinks. For those of you that don’t know what “lime” is in Trini talk, it’s a hang. Hey! This girl’s cool. I want to lime!

champion nails tobago

I became so enthralled in our conversation that I wasn’t even checking in on my nails as I normally do. When she finally declared that I was finished, I looked down and was shocked. She had killed it. They looked great. So great in fact that I questioned flying to Tobago every time I needed my nails done. Couldn’t I find an excuse to work from here? Well, I suppose not, but I do know that in the future when I come to Tobago, I am not going to anyone else and I suggest you don’t either.

Find this talent and more about Champion Nails in Tobago on her IG: @championnails and check out our iPhone pics of the journey below.