The following paper was written by a UCLA undergraduate student whom the Writing Success Program proudly worked with.
The Expansion of Nail Salon Business in the United States
by Christian Frial
The growing nail salon business in the United States started during the migration of Vietnamese immigrants to the U.S after the end of Vietnam War in 1975. There were successive waves of immigrant refugees that came to the U.S during the 70’s and 80’s, whom they were later called “boat people.” Most of them settled in California, particularly in Orange County. These recent immigrants have managed to establish a strong and united community and a dramatic transformation in a short period of time. As recent immigrants to the U.S, they struggled to find employment because of their limited English language skills, lack of networking and discrimination in the general labor workforce and they are currently not getting sufficient support from the U.S government. Because of these challenges, obstacles and struggles, many Vietnamese immigrants depend on enclave economy. They band together in one community such as in Little Saigon, which is located in Orange County, to form an enclave economy. Even though most of them were former professionals in Vietnam, they ended up working menial jobs in the U.S; few of them depended on social welfare from the U.S government, and some of them had to integrate themselves into new careers in the U.S. Other Vietnamese immigrants used their social connections within the community to utilize their human and capital advancement in the U.S. The growing economic business of nail salon business has been credited to the initiative of Vietnamese Immigrants in creating their own niche to support themselves and to serve the community. Despite the obstacles that they incurred such as English language proficiency, limited experience, lack of education in the U.S, and lack of network in the general labor market, Vietnamese Americans who works in the manicure business have become an asset to the U.S economy through/by the expansion of their manicure businesses.
In accordance with Alicia Campi, in the article entitled “From Refugees to Americans: Thirty Years of Vietnamese Immigration to the United States”, she states that “The Vietnamese who came to the United States, especially in the second wave of migration, often had rudimentary education and skills, which made integration into their new homeland all the more challenging. With little English-language or technical training, Vietnamese exhibited great entrepreneurial spirit by finding niche occupations which could allow them to immediately earn money to support their families” (Campi, 7). Even though most of them do not speak proper English and no labor experience in the U.S, they took an initiative to create a small business and work within the enclave community to survive; Little Saigon in Orange County, California is one of the examples of an enclave economy.As newly arrived immigrants, they mostly rely on their families and communities for support and employment. According to the U.S Census Bureau (2007), there are 135,548 Vietnamese Americans living in Orange County alone, of which 35,406 live in Garden Grove city, where the Little Saigon is located. In the U.S, there were 21,372 Vietnamese-owned employer firms with less than five employees (71.8 percent of the total number of Vietnamese-owned employer firms) that generated $6.0 billion in receipts (28.5 percent of all Vietnamese-owned employer firm receipts). In comparison, 304 Vietnamese-owned employer firms had 50 or more employees (1.0 percent) and generated $5.1 billion in receipts (24.3 percent)” (census.gov). Moreover, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2011), states that, “About one-fifth of Vietnamese workers were employed in personal care and service occupations, likely due to the relatively high employment of Vietnamese in nail salons. In fact, more than half of the Vietnamese employed in this category were classified as miscellaneous personal appearance workers, an occupational category that includes manicurists and pedicurists” (bls.gov). The growing population of Vietnamese immigrants in California and Vietnamese Americans family owned business and workers in the U.S has grown and expanded throughout the years especially in the manicure business and profoundly influenced their local communities. Moreover, according to Alicia Campi, in the article entitled “From Refugees to Americans: Thirty Years of Vietnamese Immigration to the United States”, she states that, “the Vietnamese have the lowest rate of receiving public assistance (10 percent) among Southeast Asian groups” (Campi, 3). This is evidence that with limited resources and opportunities, Vietnamese immigrants still managed to find their way to survive in the U.S and continued to contribute to the U.S economy without getting a lot of welfare benefits from the government; thus, they are capable of assimilating themselves into the American workforce.