Quite a few women around town are looking for Charlie Nguyen. That's because for several years he worked at another nail salon before recently leaving to join his sister Rose at her new, posh place in the strip mall next to the West End Tower Records. He had a good following at his previous job, but when he left he didn't tell his regulars he was going because he "didn't want to take [the owner's] business."
Nguyen came to Nashville in 1992 from Saigon, where he was an accountant. He didn't have the time to go back to school to learn American-style accounting, so he tried out several jobs - at a paper factory, a hotel, Centennial Hospital and Domino's Pizza - before discovering beauty school.
"In Vietnam, only girls do nails," he said. But then he learned that in the United States men not only have their nails done, but they also do nails. The profession has been much to his liking, as it provides him a different schedule than his wife's so they can more easily take care of their children. He works 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week, mostly for commission and tips. Nguyen takes satisfaction in helping people look and feel good. The secret, he says, "is to take time. If you rush, you cannot do good."
Despite his move, Nguyen is confident his old customers will find him, "because they know how hard I work for them."
- Taylor Holliday