Monday, November 21, 2011 | Categories: Documentaries |
There is a business monopoly in this country unlike any other.
It centres around fine workmanship, tiny bottles of decorative paints and hard working, usually glamorous, women.
I am talking about nail salons. Nail salons that have popped up in every mall in the country, many of them run by Vietnamese women.
The domination of the Vietnamese in the nail business started back in the mid 70's when Hollywood actress Tippi Hedren befriended 20 women in a refugee tent city in California. She brought in her manicurist to teach them the business. Today, 80% of California nail technicians, as they're known, are of Vietnamese heritage.
It's much the same in Canada.
Take Lavish nail salon on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. It had its grand opening a few weeks ago. There are five brown shiny leatherette massaging pedicure chairs with built in stereos, rows of nail tables, a potted orchid on the front desk. Everything about the place is - well - lavish. But a regular manicure is only 20 dollars.
The salon is owned by two women who lived through the upheaval of civil war in Vietnam. Each made their separate ways to Alberta where they met.
Now forty-five-year-old Anna Chan and Linh Vu, thirty-seven, are like sisters, united in their mission to beautify the women of Edmonton.
Gillian Rutherford offered up her fingernails in an effort to find out why Vietnamese women have such a lock on the nail business.