CRF Blog

In Vietnamese salons, nails, polish and unvarnished opinions

by Bill Hayes

In a Los Angeles Times feature story, In Vietnamese salons, nails, polish and unvarnished opinions, a Vietnamese-speaking reporter finds out what the workers are talking about when they think no one can understand them.

In 1975, according to Nails magazine, a trade publication, film star Tippi Hedren persuaded 20 refugees from war-ravaged Vietnam to train with her personal manicurist. It provided an easy way to earn a living compared to other professions.

Jumping into the business required only a small cash investment, little English and a short series of cosmetology classes. Thousands of nail salons sprang up across the country, run by Vietnamese Americans who hired friends and relatives. They charged less than the going rates — and what once was a luxury suddenly became affordable.

Of the 8,000 salons in California, about 75% are owned or operated by Vietnamese Americans, according to Nails magazine. [more]