They seem to appear on every corner and in nearly every city, and are a hub for shoppers and beauty queens alike: nail salons have long been an important part of America’s thriving businesses, but many Californians are unaware of their unique Vietnamese roots. Yet just as with any business, these salons can run into their own types of difficulties.
An article in The Los Angeles Times focused on the pivotal introduction of manicurist work within the Vietnamese community beginning in 1975. Since then, thousands of nail salons run by Vietnamese Americans have made their debut across the country. A whopping 75 percent of the 8,000 salons in California alone are under Vietnamese ownership. Yet the work that goes into running a nail business is not always as picture-perfect as the nails themselves; customers often do not understand the challenges that go into this type of service. Some are demanding or simply rude to manicurists, while others complain about various procedures and styles. Disputes such as these can be common, but Vietnamese American-run salons nevertheless run a large and essential part of the show.
It seems that this increasing and impatient demand for services has introduced other issues for some nail businesses, however, as NBC announced in an article last year. In December 2016, four employees of a California nail salon filed a complaint against employers for overwork and lower-than-minimum wages. Unfortunately, this issue is often the tip of the iceberg, as many nail salons struggle to compete with others, attempt to maintain good reputations and draw in new customers. While these goals can simply be another aspect of the business, it can drive employees to exhaustion. The aforementioned nail salon underwent legal scrutiny and faced labor law violations. NBC recognized the pressure from both sides of the issue, but brought to the public’s attention that common, internal issues could threaten these successful businesses in the long run.