New Doc Looks at Vietnamese Workers in the Nail Industry

By Jamilah King Jul 10, 2014

Here’s a little known fact: A chance encounter between 20 Vietnamese refugee women and actress Tippi Hedren in 1975 triggered the onset of the ubiquitous Vietnamese nail shop across America. A new documentary called "Nailed It" is out to tell the story of incredible growth and impact a small community of people have on today’s $8 billion nail trade, according to its Indiegogo campaign.

Nail industry work has, until recently, been mostly ignored by the media. In 2007, journalist Momo Chang reported at Hyphen Magazine on the range of health problems facing nail industry workers:

In 2007, Time magazine named nail salon work as one of the worst jobs in the United States because of the toxic products used in most shops. Nevertheless, the industry has tripled in size during the last two decades and rakes in $6 billion annually. About 42 percent of the 349,370 manicurists in the United States are Asian or Pacific Islander, and 96 percent are women, according to Nails Magazine, a nail industry publication. In California, 60 to 80 percent of nail salon workers are Vietnamese American. These workers are exposed to a constant dose of toxins, every hour, for eight or more hours a day. 

For this new documentary, the filmmakers are looking to raise money for production and post-production costs totaling $15,000. They’re calling it "the definitive story of Vietnamese-Americans and their impact on American culture and the nail industry." Read more.