Hawaii is home to many nail salons run by Vietnamese with technicians named Tina. Why? Celeste Hoang has the details:
Most Americans recognize Tippi Hedren for her starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film The Birds—but among the Vietnamese American community, her reputation is for something a little more serious: being a cornerstone of the immigrant community’s economy.
What does this have to do with Vietnamese and nail salons?
The Hollywood actor traveled to Hope Village, a Vietnamese refugee camp near Sacramento, California, to meet with a group of women who had recently fled the takeover of South Vietnam by the armed forces of Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. Hedren was aware of the difficulties the refugees had faced and had been trying before her visit to think of a skill or trade she could help the women learn so they could support themselves in their adopted country. When she met with the group, she was surprised to find they were enamored with her manicure.
You know where this is going now, right?
Hedren flew in her own beautician and enlisted a local beauty school to teach 20 of the women how to execute the perfect manicure. Many of these women later settled in Southern California, where they soon were offering manicure services at a lower price than the existing competition. This quickly and dramatically changed the face of the industry in the region. Manicures and pedicures that cost upwards of $50 in luxury salons can cost 30 to 50 percent less at a Vietnamese American–owned salon, according to trade publication Nails. Today, the nail industry is worth $8 billion, and 80 percent of nail technicians in Southern California are Vietnamese (51 percent across the U.S.). Many of them are direct descendants of the 20 women Hedren met with that fateful day in Sacramento.