Why It Matters So Much
The nail salon exposé in The New York Times unfairly tarnished an entire industry for the actions of some "bad apples." Even Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times, admitted that "in places" Ms. Nir's series "went too far in generalizing about an entire industry." As Korean nail salon owners, we want our valued customers, and the public at large, to hear "our side of the story" so that we can set the record straight.
For many Korean immigrants, nail salon ownership is the culmination of years of hard work, savings and often great personal sacrifice. It is, in essence, the fulfillment of "The American Dream." Rather than try to tell you why this initiative is so important, we asked some of our member salon owners to tell you why themselves.
"I have loved nails ever since I was a little girl growing up in South Korea. I worked as a nail technician for four years and was then promoted to a manager position in a nail salon. I had a wonderful mentor, who encouraged me to learn everything I could about how to run a successful nail salon. In January 2013, I opened my very own beautiful nail salon, Pink Lemon Park, in New York City in a perfect location. I had many "butterflies" in my stomach, but it was the most exciting (and daring!) thing that I ever did in my life, and I have never regretted it, even when it gets hard. Every morning when I step into my nail salon, I feel so proud and so humble at the same time. I know that if it weren't for my loyal, hardworking employees, I would never have been able to achieve such success.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make my salon experience great for both my employees and customers. We have worked very hard to eliminate toxins from our nail salon. In Fall of 2015, I launched my own line of non-toxic nail polishes in partnership with ZOYA, the first nail polish company to introduce non-toxic (first 3-free and then 5-free) nail polish. I source many other products that we use in the manicures and pedicures from organic suppliers, including our popular Limoncello Shea Butter Scrub. I was truly delighted to be included on a list of "Guilt Free Nail Salons in NYC." In order to be sure that customers always get a topnotch experience at my salon, I use Mystery Shoppers each month who come in and evaluate us on 55 different things!
I work very hard to help support my family and am especially proud for my young daughter to be able to see that girls can do anything that they set their minds to do."
"It may only be 800 square feet, but to me it feels like a palace! My little nail salon in Plainview (Long Island), NY, where I work with my three wonderful employees, isn't a fancy place and it doesn't generate a big profit. In fact, there are many days when I don't even break even after paying my employees. But I love this little business of mine. It is my own precious haven and I work hard to make it feel that way for both my customers and my employees. When customers walk in with weak or messy nails and walk out with neat and pretty nails, I feel immensely proud.
I first became a nail technician in 2000, after sending my youngest daughter off to college. I worked hard to excel at my craft and ten years later managed to scrape together enough money to buy the nail salon where I worked from its owner who was retiring. My English isn't great (my daughter was kind enough to translate this for me), but that doesn't stop me from trying to interact with my customers. I have shared life's joys and sorrows with them, learning about their hopes and their fears. Our interactions have a respectful, emotional intimacy to them that I think validates the experience for both of us, and we share many of life's milestones together. Little kids come in and I draw designs on their tiny nails, and then one day before I know it, they're not so little anymore. I watch them grow into young ladies and have a special bond with them. When my regular customers have children, I love to gift them with small presents. They are always so happy and grateful that it multiplies my joy. On the other end of the age spectrum, I welcome many elderly ladies into my salon who come in because they can't cut their own toenails. I always try to take especially good care of them and sometimes find myself shedding a few tears, as I am reminded of my own mother who I left in my native country.
My nail salon is the culmination of my life's work. I pay my taxes proudly as an American citizen and a NY state resident. I have never asked for government assistance and provide a stable source of income to my three employees, who I have always paid fairly and on a timely basis. I hope to be able to work until I'm 70 years old in my little nail salon. This past year has been unbelievably challenging for me, and I really hope I will be able to stay in business."
More Stories Coming Soon...
More Stories Coming Soon...