News Story Examines Asian Salons

A recent article reveals a growing respect for the nail business as a prosperous industry providing valuable services.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times titled “Cash in Hand”(July 28) reveals a growing respect for the nail business as a prosperous industry providing valuable services. Equally important, the article seeks to put a human face on the people---technicians, owners, and customers---behind the proliferation of immigrant-owned salons. According to the article, nearly 25% of the nail businesses nationwide are Vietnamese-owned, while in California, the article says the figure is 80%. Charging prices as low as $6 for a manicure, Asian technicians are working even longer hours than most to make a reasonable profit, usually with the dream of owning their own salons, the reporter explains.

One Los Angeles-based technician who was interviewed, Christina Nguyen, owner of Kimberly’s Nails, sound as very much like any other technician when explaining why she chose a career in nails after being laid off from a job assembling computer keyboards nine years ago. “I can make more money doing nails than anything else. Besides, I also get to be my own boss,” she says. Vietnamese men also are seeing the benefits of a career in nails. Their enrollment in beauty schools is on the increase and many end up working in salons owned by their wives, according to one school owner.

The article put forth another often overlooked point of view in the equation--- that of the customer. “The [immigrant-owned] salons’largest contribution, perhaps, has been in opening up the wonder of a hand and forearm massage---arguably the best part of a standard manicure---to the average woman,” writes the author. A quote from Ann Bradley, a patron of Kimberly’s Nails, supports her point: “I wouldn’t be getting my nails done If I had to pay $25,” she says, “but I can spend $6 on a manicure every week to pamper myself, so I do.”

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