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Pro Nails: An American Success Story

By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Sandy Nguyen says the success of her salon "Pro Nails" is based on the way she and her husband treat their customers and five employees.

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

When Sandy Nguyen's family moved to Owensboro from Vietnam in 1993, she was 17 and spoke no English.

But over the next 24 years, she and her husband, Joey, created an American success story.

They own Pro Nails & Spa in a small strip center at 3601 Frederica St.

They've been there 22 years.

And in June, readers of the Messenger-Inquirer named Pro Nails their favorite nail salon in the newspaper's annual Readers' Choice Awards.

When her family came to the United States, Sandy Nguyen said, someone recommended Owensboro to them.

"We found a lot of nice people here," she said. "We love Owensboro. Soon, we had children. And we stayed."

But her parents needed help to make a living when the family first arrived.

College would take too long, Nguyen said.

But training as a nail tech took much less time.

So, that was the career path she took.

And so did a lot of other Vietnamese immigrants.

In 2015, there were around 130,000 nail salons in the United State, according to Nails magazine, an industry publication.

More than half of all the manicurists working in those salons were Vietnamese-Americans, the magazine said.

Why so many Vietnamese nail techs?

According to several websites, in 1975, when the first wave of Vietnamese immigrants arrived in America after the fall of Saigon, actress Tippi Hedren, best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," began trying to help them find careers.

Some of the women admired her nails and Hedren helped set up nail tech classes for them.

Soon, more and more Vietnamese immigrants were choosing that path to success.

Nguyen said Pro Nails success is based on the way she and her husband treat their customers and five employees.

"We are like family," she said. "Our customers and employees are like family. They are part of our life."

Nguyen said, "I hate to be called boss. I'm just a human. I'm not better or worse than anyone else."

She credits her landlord, David Appleby, with helping her and her husband get started.

"He helped us," Nguyen said. "We didn't speak English then, but he helped us get started."

Pro Nails offers manicures and pedicures.

"This place is small," Nguyen said. "But we have children and we want family time too. If we go too big, we have no time for family."

Her children are 19 and 15.

"They're super good kids,"Nguyen said.

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