More Vietnamese American Men Join Nail Salon Business

March 16, 2006

News Report, Cynthia Anh Furey,
Nguoi Viet, Aug 01, 2004

TORRANCE, Calif. — Among Sunrise Nails and Spa’s walls of glittering nail polish, seated foot spas and all things aesthetically feminine, there is James Phan, a lone, masculine face that unknowingly represents a growing number of Vietnamese males getting involved in the nail business.

Phan and his wife, Linda, started their nail salon last year in hopes of bringing more income into their family. “Being at the nail salon is only a part time job. I am doing this to support my wife and family and help her out with her work,” James said.

Looking further into the local Vietnamese community’s exploding fascination with the nail business, it seems that James is not alone. In fact, he said there are many Vietnamese men who have joined the ranks of becoming nail aestheticians. According to and GQ magazine, there also are more businessmen who admit to being on the receiving end of a manicure or a pedicure.

“There are a lot of Vietnamese men who have a nail certificate as well. It is not an uncommon thing,” James said. “The training is quick, short and easy, the money is pretty good, too. It is also not expensive to get a nail certificate. Also, every two years we have to send a check to renew our nail license.”

It was Linda’s idea to start her own business and with the support of James they were able to plan and open their salon in Torrance, Calif., within a few years. Linda works at the salon full-time, while James comes in to help with clients after he finishes his shift at his own jobs as a Fed Ex deliveryman and an auto mechanic.

“I wanted to get the nail certificate as a back-up job. My whole family is in the business, so we do not have to rent our nail stations out to anyone,” James said. “It is a strictly family-owned (and operated) business.”

When the husband-and-wife team opened the salon on Jan. 2, 2003, only a few nail stations existed in the area. Now that business has picked up, the Phans have transformed their space inside a small strip mall into an inviting and calming atmosphere, complete with massage chairs and waxing facilities. The ambiance of the salon is highlighted with soft, delicate music, set for the client’s relaxation.

But among the clients who like to sit back and relax, there are some who also enjoy lively conversation.

“I like to chit-chat with customers, I like to see them smile,” James said. “I love to socialize.”

For a man who works alongside his wife part-time and for the Vietnamese men who will follow in his footsteps, life is good in the nail business, and it is no wonder that the Vietnamese community has somewhat of an obsession over it.

“When business is slow, I don’t like it, but I pretty much like everything about the job otherwise,” James said. “Business is good, I can’t complain about it.”

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