Nail salons in the United States have been associated with Vietnamese immigrants living in the US since the 1970s when some came to America to seek refuge because of the Vietnam War. A Hollywood actor, Tippi Hedrin, introduced a number of them into the industry of nail art and they have managed to develop themselves to the extent of affecting the entire nation and even the economy (David and Linor, 25). Due to the increased number of nail salons, pricing has become a problem where some of them are receiving payments, which do not add up to, the services they offer. This essay, in that case, seeks to deliberate on reasons as to why pricing at Vietnamese nail salons should be a priority, depending on the lives of the manicurists. The paper contains valid reasons justifying the proposed increase in the cost of services at the nail salons in respect to the tremendously decrease in service cost. The decrease in prices though has provoked many arguments with some supporting the decreased prices and others opposing it. The essay will cover the arguments from both sides of the story and conclude why the pricing at Vietnamese nail salons be increased. Owners of Vietnamese nail salons should raise their services to price up to pay workers better; this action would help improve quality of life for Vietnamese in America considering the nature of their work, challenges they face both socially and economically.
Why Most Vietnamese Are Manicurists
Nail art popularly known as manicure dates back to 1970s when Tippi Hedrin introduced some Vietnamese women to the art (David and Linor, 32). Since then, they have shown their resilience in the industry by taking the whole America with their increasing number of salons in different parts of the nation. Estimation shows that the Vietnamese own 48% of Neil salons in the whole United States. Most of the Vietnamese immigrants are manicures. This is because a number of them who were trained by Hedrin have since then introduced their colleagues to the blooming business in the United States. It acted as a lucrative business for the unskilled Vietnamese immigrants. They never hesitated in taking the business opportunity but acted with a lot of serious making them open up several salons in which they employed their colleague Vietnamese. Statistics show that 60% of the attendants in the salons are Vietnamese despite their 48% ownership of the total businesses. This increasing number Vietnamese to the market of nail art made them the construction of a beauty college for their own in 1987 with training being done in their native language (Hoang et al.120). This beauty college increased their participation in this business further. The growing number boomed in the United States of America in the mid-1970s right up to 1980s. It is from this time when Vietnamese nail salons, picked momentum and took the market with a blast Vietnamese nail salons became a linchpin during this time between them and other cultures, Vietnams economic autonomy and the American classic dream story. This is supported by a preview documentary, which shows that Vietnamese own 48% of nail tech industries in the United States and even the workers in these salons are mostly Vietnamese. Nails magazine also supports this statistics, and according to them, nail salon industry is one of the fastest growing Asian businesses in the United States.
Competition between Salons
Salon owners in the United States will tell you how tenacious the salon industry has been in the country, but in the recent past, this has not remained same. Just a few salons existed in the business before, and since the recruitment of many others in the market, there has been an increased level of completion (Eckstein et al. 26). As we all know, different business organizations use different strategies for handling competition and ensuring customer satisfaction. Most salon owners in the past received quite a substantial amount of money, but due to the developing completion and congestion in the market, profit levels have gone down. Because of the low-profit margins created, salon owners find it difficult to hire more manicures and pay them as per the standards or the wage rate as stated by the government. In a business perspective, we say, an increase in supply leads to a decrease in demand and this will force the business owners to lower their prices since a reduction of price, leads to an increase in demand. Salon owners are forced to lower their market prices hence decrease in payment rates for their workers (Keefe, and Colleen, 10). Competition on the hand has led to the increase in quality of work done by the manicurists making nail art perfect and quality oriented. The quality and timely work offered by manicurists helps them in developing customer relation, and this may even lead to them being permanent customers. This happens after they have developed the full trust of the client. Healthy competition is meaningful in every business, and it should be encouraged, but it does not necessarily involve lowering of workers’ pay rate below the stipulated amount. Competition can be in different avenues but not necessarily price reduction. According to me, a price should be set so that competition would only entail quality work (Eckstein et al. 32). Competition exists internally where employees of the same industry are trying to do their manicurist so fast to make more money. Such kind of competition is advisable since it involves quality and time but not payment terms and rates.
Nail Technicians Wage Very Low despite Long Working Hours
Due to infiltration of the industry, many salon owners have increased working hours and reduced the wage rate to maintain the commission and profits. There is reduced payment per hour considering the saturation in the industry is making employees earn much lower than what constitution says about minimum wage rate. The decreased wages of the nail technicians have made the living standards of these workers even worse since. In a growing economy, one would expect salary increment and not salary cut. Economic growth comes with an increase in prices of commodities. This means all workers expect a positive deviation in the pay when it has to change. Lowering wage rate by salon owner’s makes their workers living standard worse and there is no one would expect in a growing economy. All Americans deserve better lifestyle, and this can only be achieved if the government and its citizens ensure that no one is underplayed. Individually speaking, salon prices should go up. Manicures spend much time and long hours on our nails performing beautiful arts on our nails as we relax on the luxurious couches they have in their industries (Hoang and Kimberly, 125). Their hard work should not be ignored as a kind easy job but should highly be appreciated to encourage and empower them in the community. It takes heart and dedication to have such a job (manicure), and since it is someone’s piece of work, we should appreciate them by paying them promptly. Art is different from the profession. Art involves hard work perseverance. During festive seasons, nail salons are opened from 7am-7pm just to satisfy the customers. As customers, we should the sense the good work done by these workers, and we reward them tentatively. Such periods as eve of the New Year, Valentines Day days and the Christmas holidays are some of the times when the salon industry experience prom periods since during these times, there are some customers readily waiting for these services offered. Summer is the busiest part of the year, it is the time, when we have key holidays and even events organized. Considering the FLSA standard minimum wage rate of $7.5 per hour and other auxiliary payments like overtime and many others, manicurists’ pay is much lower than the estimated payment they should receive. My feeling is that these people should have good salaries despite their job being unprofessional; they do much in ensuring that we look good on the nails.
From science, we all know, chemicals are not fit for human beings. Their use should be regulated to the highest level possible. As an advocate for increasing the salon price for the Vietnamese, I say this in consideration to health problems these workers re-exposed to while working on our nails. Imagine a condition where you use hazardous chemicals a whole day six times a week. There is a high probability that at one point in life you will suffer health problems. In as much as we consider the work done by the manicurists being simple, we should also put into considering the kind of health problems they are exposed to in their work conditions. These are highly exposed to health problems resulting from the toxic gases they inhale all day while working. Such chemicals as acrylic and acetone, when inhaled directly on a daily basis, can cause breathing problems since they interfere with the internal organs (Keefe, and Colleen, 15). We find that in the hive of a good salon, there are ranks of workers with the topmost being the Big Job level, which consist of veterans whose main job is the sculpting of acrylic dust found in our nails. Even though this is the most exciting job in a salon, most young women do prefer it because of the health hazard it comes with. Most of those who work in that stage do suffer from serious health problems like, miscarriages and cancer, which are all associated with inhaling clouds and fumes from plastic materials. This demonstrates how dangerous the work these guys do and therefore, I feel the law which makes the lowest rate of pay per hour to be 8.5 dollars should apply to even these workers as well and they should not be left out as they are now. They do work which most people in the society are not willing to do. Most experienced manicurists earn around 50-70 dollars a day, and this is still much lower than the minimum wage rate in the United States. They work longer hours considerably as compared to other workers who fall in the minimum wage rate. Manicurist takes this risk just to ensure that our nails remain fantastic (Keefe, and Colleen, 10). Depending on this, I feel deeply convinced that their payment rate does not justify the same. Many people cannot take such risks, and the brave in the society who can do it should receive a good payment, which can cater for their health complications later in the future when they develop such complications.
Lack of social activity
Social entails so much in life. It involves all participation in community activities, which range from family issues besides the community activities. Participating in community-based programs likes games, and even social groupings are essential in one’s life. It has a greater connection with the mind and the heart of an individual. Some doctors say that lack of social life can be times dangerous to our life. Lack of social activity involves detachment from the community and family due to some reasons. In this case, we are relating social activities to a life of manicurists. Doctors have proven that when one misses the social life, there is a risk of dementia. Interaction with members of the society and family members exercises the brain cells and hence the proper connection between these brain cells. Through this, we feel safe since our brain reserves are protected, and there is a lower risk of dementia in one life. Being social involves a series of activities, which interests you and one would always feel relaxed when they do what they enjoy, and mix with people they love seeing around like family. About social activities to the manicurist work, it is a bit challenging. Working as manicurists is a very involving activity that deprives one of some life demands. Their long hour’s work does not give them the opportunity to have a social life. Most of them are even unable to have time with their families because of the long working hours in a day. These make them very prone to booth health issues and being detached from the family, which may serious impacts on one’s family.
Support for my discussion
Starting with health issues, manicurists risk suffering from dementia in their old age, which may cut short their life and dementia, there are a series of health conditions related to lack of social activities just to mention a few, cardiovascular disease, heart problems due to lack of exercise and many others. Manicurists risk family problems because of the nature of their work. It is very important that one gives family priority (Phan et al. 85). When it comes to manicurists’ job, it is very challenging balancing family and work. Their work has long hours in a day, and they leave their homes very early in the morning going to work where they again very late in the night. This means most of them will not have time to spend with their families making them unable to guide their children as they grow. This may make children develop unwanted characteristics in their lifetime because they lack the parental guidance, which all children need in their course of growth. All these are the risks manicurists are susceptible. It is therefore essential that they get better pay. Imagining of one taking the risk of raising a crooked family just to get pay that cannot justify the risk is such a disappointment. This is one of the reasons why I feel these workers wage rate should rise.
From my personal experience as a manicurist for ten years rising to the level of a salon manager, I am pretty convinced that manicurists deserve something better in the society. Just as naysayers say, they deserve low payments because they are casual workers since there are no legal qualifications for one to do the job, it is a very wrong argument since this worker risks a lot and still, they are a commitment to offering quality service we should think of manicurists in a wiser way. My experience as a manicure made me learn a lot about the job they do, and as someone who was once a manager of a salon, I feel what it takes to do the job and the risk conditions it entails. A debate on the pay would justify their low payment but look at the pros and cons tentatively; it comes out that these people are so important in a community. They make the world a better place by improving our beauty. Vietnamese in the nail industry are unique just from the geographical range of their industrial dominance in the nail industry. They own and operate salons in almost every state in the US. Professor William Kerr of Harvard School of business only compares their dominance in the nail industry to the Indian Gujarati in hotel management business. According to the professor, Indians also own about 40% of all motels in the US but their dominance in the motel business but does not traverse the Vietnamese dominance in the nail industry. This is because Vietnamese have dominated not only the US market but also beyond towns and cities in other countries like Canada, England, and even Australia. Professor Kerr quotes that such an achievement requires not only a balance in the ethnic group size balance but also a tight cohesion and good industrial conditions. A sociologist Susan Eckstein says that the Vietnamese created nail market and they expanded it (Eckstein, Susan, and Giovanni, 30). Susan’s research at Boston College focused on the ethnic niche industries, and she even considered writing a book about the diversity of the Vietnamese business of nail salons. In her paper published in 2011, International migration review, she mentioned the Vietnamese offered the conveniently low prices for nail art and which drove the industries increased demand for more pedicures and manicures which made nail art essential for everyone and not only the wealthy families. Susan concluded that the Vietnamese changed the standards of beauty in the entire US.
An interview with one of the Vietnamese who owns a salon in West point Virginia Nguyen says that the business is full of vicissitudes at different times of the year. She says it is uncommon that even at times in summer, a stall can miss customers and you would be waiting for customers for quite a while before you see one walk into your stall. Despite that, Nguyen expressed her happiness as an immigrant who has owned a business in the foreign land American town for over 20 years and the business is what has been her source of livelihood for all these years. Her dream though was to be a nurse but since she loves taking care of people but the help she always offered to her mom in the salon transformed her to a manicurist, but she looks forward to becoming someone better because no one can dream of becoming peoples feet scrub as she says.
Some people especially economists argue that my business, my price. In spite, arguments on the pricing of Vietnamese nail salons, the sole decision lies with the business owner. I can decide to charge whatever I feel like so long as it lies in the minimum and maximum expectation on the wage rate and bills as stated by the law. A stipulated pricing an employer’s decision. Some argue that low prices, more customers and high prices, few customers (Phan et al. 82). They then resort to having many customers, which at the end of the day only affects the nail technicians working is that the decrease in prices is cut from their wage rate. This though is not the case from my perspective as an individual this is not the correct way of running businesses. One should consider both the positive and negative nature of the work done before deciding on the pricing of the labor. My sense tells me that nail art is more involving and require better payment than what the Vietnamese take as the price of it. My sense tells me that these workers may be unaware of the nature of health problems their work comes with and since they are desperately looking for a living, they take whatever comes across them to have a person’s nails done. The argument on pricing solemnly lies with the unity of these industries and the feeling from the clients they deal with. I feel these salon owners can come up with universal pricing for all salons. This will make competition fair since the number of customers you have will depend on the quality of the work you do. Again as clients, you should have the sixth sense that those people deserve a better life than what they do.
In conclusion, pricing at Vietnamese nail salons is a very diverse topic, and a discussion on this topic will raise unending argument from both either side, opposes and proposers. The reality on this topic depends on a person’s understanding of the real setup. Humanitarians will support the motion since this topic is based on the humanity and not the nature of the work being done. Vietnamese had managed to have an impact on the US economy from their nails industry, which had become their area of specialization since 1970 when Hedrin introduced them to this art. They have proved that even immigrants or rather refuges can also have an impact on an economy if given a chance to prove their worth. They have shown their resilience in the industry of nails by, not only dominating the US market, but also other countries as mentioned earlier. Pricing in the Vietnamese nails salons should be increased to offer them a better life because they deserve it.
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Eckstein, Susan, and Giovanni Peri. “Immigrant Niches and Immigrant Networks in the US Labor Market.” RSF (2018). Pp 25-30.
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