April 10, 2007
Written by C.N.
One of my research interests is entrepreneurship and self-employment among Asian Americans. In that context, as New American Media reports, one example that has increasingly become prominent in recent years is the dominance of Vietnamese Americans in the nail salon business:
These days, [nail salons are] a main source of living for the Vietnamese American community. Drummey, publisher of VietSalon, a bi-monthly magazine, says that nearly 45 percent of the nail salons in the United States employ Vietnamese technicians or are Vietnamese owned. . . .
And with that growth has come advancement. Men, for one, are entering the field in huge numbers. And as Vietnamese Americans are becoming more entrenched in the industry, they are investing more funds and technique in their daily work, upgrading their salons with top-of-the-line equipment and first-rate artistry.
The article also mentions that apparently, there are now even international competitions on nail art (the intricate designs that are painted onto fingernails). Unfortunately, the article does not mention any challenges that Vietnamese experience in either opening up or operating their nail salons (such as dealing with increasingly stringent health regulations, toxic fumes from the chemicals used, and competition from other Vietnamese salons), nor any issues related to interacting with their clientele that inevitably arise (i.e., how customers might get annoyed if employees talk among themselves in Vietnamese rather than English, etc.).
For those discussions, be sure to read Prof. Miliann Kang’s research on Korean-owned nail salons in New York City. Nonetheless, one cannot help but be impressed by the extent to which Vietnamese have come to dominate this particular industry. It is a testament to their efforts to find their own niche and to leverage their individual and collective resources to succeed in their own small businesses and in the process, fulfill their version of the American dream.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Vietnamese Nail Salons" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/04/vietnamese-nail-salons/> ().
Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=407