Males Who Do Nails

With a growing number of men opting to pay bills and forge careers from behind a nail table, NAILS takes a look at some male techs to find out what they think of their chosen profession and how they’re ­making it in a female-dominated industry.

Tai Nguyen, Q Nguyen,  Rick Hoang, Tempe, Ariz. • Years doing nails: 10 each  • Specialty: nail art

Rick Hoang, Tai Nguyen, and Q Nguyen, are co-owners of Nails By Males inside Pink’s Salon.
<p>Rick Hoang, Tai Nguyen, and Q Nguyen, are co-owners of Nails By Males inside Pink&rsquo;s Salon.</p>

Nails By Males takes the male tech meme directly to its customers. Situated on the campus of Arizona State University, Nails By Males is co-owned by three male techs who have a combined 30+ years of nail experience. They decided to open a salon targeting the female student population with fun, colorful nail art, and it has become the place to get your nails done. Tai Nguyen, Q Nguyen, and Rick Hoang are in their late 20s / early 30s, and are having a great time.

“We’re right on campus, so we focus on Rock Star Gels and glitter — those are very popular here,” says Tai. In the last six months, Nails By Males has become a smash hit with Arizona State University coeds. Its mission statement is clear: at Nails By Males the technicians are licensed professionals who care about the quality of their work, and their attention and enthusiasm are part of the overall Nails By Males experience.

The kids can’t get enough of it.

“It’s going great,” says Tai. He owns Nails By Males (in Pink’s Salon on the ASU campus) with his brother Q, and friend Rick Hoang. When Tai first moved to Arizona, he didn’t know anyone, but he was a licensed nail tech. And the first friend he met was Rick, another licensed nail tech, and they decided to open a salon.

The concept of a guy doing nails, the rarity of it, is attention-getting and thus most male technicians with skills can secure a proper clientele in a reasonably short amount of time. With Nails By Males, they come right out with it, and the result has been a great success with the guys offering the gamut of fun, glittery nail shades that express the school spirit and youth of its wearers.


The salon is decorated in vibrant colors from floor to ceiling.
<p>The salon is decorated in vibrant colors from floor to ceiling.</p>

Nail art is their specialty.
<p>Nail art is their specialty.</p>

David Fowler, Signature Nails, Düsseldorf, Germany • Years doing nails: 11 • Specialty: acrylic pink-and-whites
David Fowler taking 3rd in the U.S. Invitation Acrylic competition at the 2010 IBS Las Vegas show.
<p>David Fowler taking 3rd in the U.S. Invitation Acrylic competition at the 2010 IBS Las Vegas show.</p>

Fowler came up behind industry trailblazers like Tom Bachik, Tom Holcomb, Trang Nguyen, and Sam Sweet, and like them he made a name for himself in the competition arena and developed a great reputation through his education work at CND. He currently lives in Germany, where he runs Signature Nail International, an education academy and consulting service.

“At the beginning of my career UV gel was virtually an unknown in the U.S. market,” says Fowler. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but he can do one mean acrylic pink-and-white. Starting his career in Salt Lake City just to make some extra income, Fowler mastered the acrylic pink-and-white look among a clientele of traditional taste and style. His precision sets gained the interest of CND (Creative Nail Design back then), and he worked events like the Sundance Film Festival and national beauty shows. “In working with a manufacturer, I recognized the potential opportunities and took advantage of them,” says Fowler.

In the studio and on the U.S. show circuits, pink-and-whites and regular nail polish was the norm. Upon moving to Europe, Fowler developed his reputation through nail art in more extreme variations that appealed to the European market.  

“I have been receiving more and more recognition for my nail art and decided to return to my passion — pink-and-whites. But now I have the added value of the nail bed elongation through a camouflage powder. Although UV gel has become stronger worldwide, my love for liquid and powder remains.”  

David Fowler taking 3rd in the U.S. Invitation Acrylic competition at the 2010 IBS Las Vegas show. [right] An example of Fowler’s competition nails and his promo and marketing work.

An example of Fowler’s competition nails.
<p>An example of Fowler&rsquo;s competition nails.</p>

An example of his promo and marketing work.
<p>An example of his promo and marketing work.</p>

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