Prior to the introduction of new technology in the 1970’s that made manicures, specifically acrylic extensions, prohibitively expensive, only celebrities and the uber-wealthy could afford frequent visits to the salon. Except for the temporary stick-ons that provided more fodder for comedians than real fashion advantages, the perfection of a new technology, with the end of the Vietnam war, combined the possibility of nice looking nails with a successful business for enterprising Vietnamese expatriots.
When the actress Tipi Hedren (most famous for Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) visited a tent city of Vietnamese women—some of them former professionals—in Sacramento, called “Hope Village,” she saw an immediate need to help. She shared manicure techniques, and with their diligence and business savvy, a “niche” industry was off and filing.
A dentist had begun using tooth repair technology to repair fingernails, and with the evolution of that technology, the availability of clean, quick, attractive artificial nails provided an added value to the previous cleaning, trimming and polishing choices.
By the early 2000’s, surveys by the industry reflect that 80% of nail salons in the Unites States are owned by first or second generation Vietnamese.
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