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Vietnam Travel Log

by Kimberly Pham | July 22, 2013


Two months ago I went on vacation to visit my grandmother and family in Da Nang, Vietnam. Da Nang has a beautiful contrast of a bustling downtown and a classic landscape of farming villages and rice paddies. (Above is a photo of my aunt and me sitting near the newly constructed Dragon River Bridge that spews fire and water on weekends.)

During my trip, I realized that certain things are universal. For one, adding services and add-ons may be necessary to survive in this economy. My aunt owns a small shop selling clothes in a market that is only busy in the morning. When business slowed, she invested in a sewing machine and began a clothing-mending service, attracting a new market and making up a little of what had been lost.

Nail services continue to grow in Vietnam as nails are seen as a canvas for beauty. My 24-year-old niece, Thao Ly Pham, had her toes painted bright orange with nail art to attend a special event. In Da Nang, nails-only salons are slowly popping up alongside other businesses. The price of a polish service is on average 20,000-60,000 đồng ($1-$3), while the price is higher in spas frequented by wealthier clientele. Although it’s not a lot, surprisingly, it is just enough to survive. Thankfully, business in the U.S. continues to grow. The average price for a natural nail care service in the U.S. is $19.15.

As Vietnam’s nail industry expands, so will its relationship with the global nail community. In June, Star Nails’ Tony Cuccio made his first trip to Vietnam and met with the Kelly Pang Nail Academy in Saigon. Cuccio had three important tips to share with Vietnam’s nail community. First, “Sanitation and cleanliness go hand in hand with a great salon experience.” Second, “Good customer service and client comfort will ensure they visit again.” Third, “Offering a variety of services will give you the opportunity to make more money.” Cuccio’s advice is a global message that can help improve the value of services in any country.

The rows of small businesses, family-owned shops, and handcrafted products are refreshing to see. My trip this time around has changed my mindset for the better as I plan on working harder to support family-owned businesses and small boutique shops in the U.S.

— Kim

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