Quarter Dinh’s friendly personality, singing voice, and unique business model has made himself a name in the Detroit area. Dinh, born Đinh Khắc Đam, knew that the best way to succeed in the nail salon business was to be unique, market that uniqueness, and most importantly, provide quality service to his clients.
So he decided to market himself, and he’s taken an unlikely rise to fame. Better known in the Detroit area as Quarter The Singing Manicurist, he’s self-described as “The Legend of Every Woman’s Dreams and In Every Man’s Nightmares”. Dinh first appeared on local radio station 105.1 Magic Detroit with Midzi Miles, who gave him the “Singing Manicurist” name. Then came numerous interviews with Fox 2 Detroit’s Lila Lazarus, who helped direct Dinh’s first YouTube video, a few seconds of which made it to airtime on Oprah. His singing manicurist video also appeared on Rachel Ray’s show and he is a regular guest with Mojo In The Morning on Detroit radio station 95.5.
[Left] Dinh flew to Hollywood for backstage Grammy Awards coverage with Detroit-based radio show host Mojo In The Morning (center) and gave actress Brande Roderick a manicure on air. [Right] Dinh with Miley Cyrus, who still played the character Hannah Montana at the time. (Catch Cyrus in a nail salon sketch with Jimmy Fallon.)
“There is a nail salon on every corner, it’s a very competitive business so you must twist things to get attention or be a little different. If you’re dumb or stupid then people will remember you,” Dinh says. “That's how I came up with the karaoke nails idea and it works.”
A karaoke system was installed in Dinh's salon, Glamour Nails, located in Commerce Township, a suburb of Detroit. Pedicure spa chairs line one side of the salon and manicure tables and flat screen TVs line the other so that every seat is a good seat to sing karaoke. There’s a variety of song choices in many languages for every age and group. “Michigan is very diverse with many ethnic communities such as Jewish, Arabic, Mexican, German, American, and Middle Eastern. I try to cater to every group.”
Dinh’s fame has helped with business, as clients visit from near and far in curiosity, to meet him, and to sing at his karaoke salon. Others randomly come in for an autograph or photo op. Groups come in weekly for bridal parties and baby showers to sing karaoke and to have fun with Quarter The Singing Manicurist.
He sings with his clients and to his clients, serenading many a birthday girl as many as five a day, and acts silly to get newcomers to warm up. “Most of time they act shy at first and I bust out some songs first. After a couple songs and drinks I can't even take the microphone away from them.”
Of course, singing means nothing if the nail services aren’t up to par. Dinh’s foremost focus is on customer service and making his clients happy. The challenge, however, was finding the right staff. “In my first three years, my challenge was to find staff that was willing to give customers the best customer service, have the best sanitation practices, and above all, quality work,” he says. “I always making sure my clients leave with ‘Glamour Nails’ and happy feet.” He now has 10 “perfect employees”, all of whom have yet to join in on the karaoke fun. Glamour Nails boasts an estimated average of 80% repeat clients and referrals. The salon’s most popular services are pedicures (leaving your hands free to hold a mic to sing) and Shellac gel-polish manicures.
The name Quarter came about during his four years as a substitute teacher. The students would call him all sorts of names not being able to pronounce his name, so he told them to call him “Dime” (which sounds similar to “Đam” in Vietnamese). A friend joked and told them to call him “Quarter”, because a quarter is worth more than a dime.
CindiNails' new brand of nail polish, Cindi's Naturals, launched the Michigan Collection this year that includes a color named after Dinh called Quarter, The Singing Manicurist.
Dinh came to the U.S. when he was 17 and is very involved with the Vietnamese community in Michigan, moonlighting as a wedding emcee and hosting Vietnamese musical variety shows for temples, churches, and for the whole Vietnamese community in Detroit. He also promotes his salon by giving back to the surrounding community, sponsoring grade school marching bands and sports teams.
He also has the uncanny ability to convert any pop music hit and turn it into a nails-themed song. “I don’t sing professionally, but I guarantee you will laugh when I sing, because most of my songs are about nails.” Some of his most requested songs by clients are “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias’ and his nail parody hit, “Achy Breaky Nails”, the original made popular by Billy Ray Cyrus.
Some lyrics from "Achy Breaky Nails":
If you break your nails,
your achy breaky nails,
you just come here I'll understand.
If you break your nails,
your achy breaky nails,
I want to be your manicure man.