Last night I got to share in a celebration of how beauty changes lives. At the Legacy of Style event honoring actress and philanthropist Tippi Hedren (best known as the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”), Beauty Changes Lives, CND, and other members of the beauty community spoke of Hedren’s generosity and her kindness, and of the role she played in helping spark a movement that would forever change the face of the nail industry.
I’m not sure if I’ve told this story here before, but it’s one worth retelling. In the 1960s, Hedren was active in humanitarian missions in Vietnam with the organization Food for the Hungry. After the fall of Saigon, she got involved in Hope Village, a refugee camp near Sacramento, Calif., where her long, polished nails were admired by the women at the camp. That gave her an idea — this might be just the thing to get her new Vietnamese friends working toward their own American dream.
So Hedren started bringing her own manicurist up to the camp to meet with the women. And over the course of several months, 20 or so of these Vietnamese refugees learned how to do nails. Hedren’s dedication to seeing the women get their licenses and become employable didn’t stop in the ’70s. She remained committed to the education and empowerment of Vietnamese-American women by helping them find work in the professional nail industry. Today, Vietnamese-Americans make up half the population of nail technicians in America. And this group can be credited with the intense growth of the nail industry over the last several decades.
At the gala last night, Vietnamese actress Kieu Chinh spoke of how Hedren sponsored her to come to the U.S., allowing her to flee the war-torn country she loved. Thuan Le, one of the original 20 women who became a licensed manicurist under Hedren’s urging, was also on hand to honor her friend. They spoke of the ordeals that the Vietnamese people had to endure once they left their country behind. And they spoke of the kindness and generosity of one woman who became the “mother” of the Vietnamese-American nail industry.
In addition to honoring Miss Hedren, CND’s Jan Arnold and BCL’s Lynelle Lynch also announced the Beauty Changes Lives CND Tippi Hedren Nail Scholarship Fund. Created to elevate, educate, and expose the nail profession as a rich and rewarding career, the scholarships will be available for any students enrolling in a nail program at any AACS accredited school. BCL will be accepting applications beginning early next year. I’ll have more information on how to apply in the upcoming months. But for now, I’m just happy to have been part of such a positive and uplifting evening. Because you see, no matter how we look at, there is no denying that beauty changes lives.