Luo Yufeng, who has worked in the salons for four years, reports:
Q. What are your thoughts on the New York manicure industry in general?
A. I think it’s fine. Many of my friends have been doing the work for more than 10 years, and they generally think it’s better than working in restaurants. The difference between a manicurist and her boss is not clear-cut. An ordinary worker can start in a nail salon to learn the techniques, and, after three or five years, she can pay around $30,000 to buy a salon and become a boss herself. I found this highly inspiring. Even when I was cursed or when my customers found fault with me, my heart was still full of hope, because one day I could become a boss, too.
The interview is interesting throughout. By no means do I think her account is the whole story, but relatively few people will see this interview, on the NYT Sinosphere blog, and nail salons have been a topic of discussion as of late. A discussion of life in the Vietnamese countryside would be illuminating as well.