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Nail Salon

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This Black Male Nail Technician Wants His Piece Of The Billion Dollar Nail Industry

Although the nail industry is dominated largely by Vietnamese women, there is an emerging interest in the billion-dollar market coming from a group of people that some would least expect: Black men.

Data from the UCLA Labor Center shows that only 2% of nail salon workers are Black, an even smaller fraction of that percentage are Black men. However, the market is shifting as more men enter into fields that fall outside society’s gendered norm.

Darnell Atkins, who goes by Nen10doe on social media, is a 29-year-old nail technician from Washington, D.C. He began his journey in the nail industry after getting kicked out of the U.S. Navy because of his past addiction to synthetic marijuana. 

Black Male Nail Technician
Darnell Atkins in the Navy

When he returned home from serving his country, it was hard for him to find a job. In need of money, he looked to the streets to make ends meet.

“I resorted back to a couple of hustles,” Atkins said. “But in the midst of me resorting back, I always found myself in front of a Black-owned nail salon. All the hustlers would gravitate towards this area because that is where all the pretty girls were.”

Atkins went into the nail shop to inquire about a manicure and pedicure but was surprised when he found out it would cost him $70. Once he realized how much money nail technicians made, he decided that very day to get training.

Black Male Nail Technician

“I was hungry, and I was motivated to find a way out,” Atkins said. ‘I didn’t have anything else, so I dumped all of my money into learning how to do nails.”

A few days later he began his training. But he did so in secret. He would walk to the shop with his hood over his head, hoping that no one would recognize him. Atkins said he was afraid that people would “think he was gay for wanting to do nails.”

“I didn’t want anybody to see. I was kind of ashamed,” he said.

Atkins hadn’t seen any Black men in his neighborhood do nails. There is a heavy stigma that comes with it and most decide it’s not worth society questioning their masculinity.

Black Male Nail Technician
Darnell Atkins

Ogundele Cain, a recent graduate from Virginia State University, agrees with Atkins. The 25-year-old has aspirations to break into the nail industry but doesn’t know any Black male nail technicians.

“I never saw a lot of Black men doing nails, and I definitely never saw a lot of Black straight men doing nails either,” Cain said.

Cain was supposed to enroll in cosmetology school this semester, but the coronavirus halted his plans.“I’ve always been vocal about breaking out of the patriarchy and away from society’s viewpoint of what masculinity should be,” he said. “The goal is to break the mold.”

There is a long history of society denying Black men the privilege of creating their own standards of what it means to be masculine. There are strict parameters around their masculinity that other races do not have the burden to abide by. Now, more than ever, Black people are taking their identities into their own hands.

Ekatarina Bender from Silver Spring brings her daughter to get her nails done by Atkins. He was the first Black male nail technician she had ever met. In her opinion, he is the best technician she has ever had. “At this point, it is super important for me to invest in him,” Bender said.

Black Male Nail Technician

She likes that Atkins is not afraid to be different, and she said it’s important to her to be a loyal client and support his movement of defying gender norms.

Atkins’ goal is to inspire other Black men to pursue things they are interested in without feeling ashamed.“I want to do good work and be noticed for that, rather than the guy that just started doing nails and people are like, ‘that’s not normal,’” Atkins said. “Let’s make a big impact out of not being normal.”

Source:WUSA9


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This Black Owned Nail Salon on Wheels Finds Success During a Pandemic

Philly entrepreneur Keesha Brown launched her mini nail salon inside an old bus in February, just as the pandemic descended on the region.

The golden bronze bus allows her to travel to her clients. It also lets her cater to just one person or one small group at a time.

Black Owned Nail Salon

“When the COVID happened is when everything changed,” Brown, 36, told Billy Penn. “It actually boosted my business.”

The pandemic, social media, and support for Black-owned businesses stemming from recent protests have been like a holy trinity for success for Brown’s newest endeavor, which she christened Last Minute Nails.

Brown, who runs seven businesses in total, has a cosmetology degree. She “always wanted to be a nail technician,” she said, but had trouble finding a job in traditional shops.

So this year, she purchased an old CCT bus for about $7,500 and transformed it into a stylish mini spa. For about $3,000 in renovations, Brown painted the walls a magenta pink and added floral wallpaper, a black chandelier, velour navy blue salon chairs, and dark wood-look floors.

With every other traditional nail salon shuttered following Gov. Tom Wolf’s closure of non-life sustaining businesses, people turned to Last Minute Nails.

“We were the only nail salon listed as open,” Brown said.

That won’t be the case soon. City officials announced last week that personal services — salons, barbers, and spas — can reopen come Friday.

But it’s not just the monopoly on the nail hustle right now that’s got business booming.

While working on a client in Philly’s West Oak Lane neighborhood, Brown’s bus caught one neighbor’s eye. That neighbor snapped pics and shared the images on Facebook.

“This sister has a mobile nail salon and I just thought that was so cool!” Facebook user Simone Collucci wrote. Her post went viral. It’s been shared more than 12k times — and gave Brown her next biz boost.

“I literally had over 800 calls coming in regarding my services,” Brown said. That was in one day. The next day, she got 1,000 calls, and now her bookings are double what they were at launch.

Hiding her Black ownership because of past experience

Last Minute Nails proudly lists itself as a Black-owned business on Instagram. But Brown, a serial entrepreneur, said she hid it at first.

“I didn’t want people to know that it was a Black-owned business because of the non-support that we get from being Black owned,” Brown said. “When I would go to certain clients, I would say, ‘No, I don’t own the business. I’m just an employee.’”

The increased support following George Floyd protests, Brown said, is not what she usually receives as a Black woman business owner — and she has plenty of experience.

Her other companies include a staffing agency and job training program, both on pause while Last Minute Nails gets off the ground, and an ice cream and Belgian waffle shop called Late Night Munch & Crunch in Marcus Hook, Pa.

black owned nail salon

Brown recalled a time when one of her staffing agency clients, a doctor’s office where she’d placed three long-term employees, found out she owned the business.

“And all of a sudden, that took a downward spiral,” Brown said of the doctor’s office. “From that, it went to [him] not answering my calls, [him] not answering my text messages. So that made me feel like…I wasn’t good enough being a Black owned business.”

On the Last Minute Nails bus, Brown specializes in dip powder false nails because they’re quicker than acrylic application — and her entire business model is based on speed and convenience.

That jibes perfectly with the reopening guidance for the industry provided by the city this week. Brown said she uses hand sanitizer, sanitizes clients’ hands before and after their appointment, disinfects the pedicure bowl with bleach after each client and wears a mask…most of the time.

She caught a little flak for not wearing a mask in the viral Facebook photos.”That was just one of the customers that I felt comfortable enough not to wear a mask at that time,” she explained.

Ultimately, Brown believes she manifested her successful nail shop.

“Last year, I kept saying, I want to be rich,” Brown said. “Now I feel like, I’m not going to ever have to worry about my income anymore because all I do is answer the phone and say, ‘Hey, I can take you right now.’ And literally I can make money all day, every day.”

 

Source: Billy Penn

 

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Nail Salon Brawls & Boycotts: Unpacking The Black-Asian Conflict In America

As early as I can remember, my dad, an immigrant from Taiwan, would nonchalantly use the term 黑鬼 (hēi guǐ), Mandarin for “black ghost” and essentially the Chinese equivalent of the n-word, to refer to Black people.

From a young age, I understood that the racial discrimination perpetuated against Black people in this country was mirrored in the sentiments of members of my community — a community that also faces intolerance in this country.

There have been ways in which this racial divide has been represented by the victimization of Asians, from coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots to reports of targeted attacks against Asians by Black people. It could be argued that the violence is mutual, but in reality, the Asian community and Asian-owned businesses have much responsibility to bear when it comes to anti-Black violence.

asian
PHOTO: DOUGLAS BURROWS/LIAISON. A beauty supply store set on fire during the Los Angeles Riots.

On Friday, August 3, a dispute over an eyebrow wax became physical at New Red Apple Nails on Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush, NY. According to a report in the New York Post, customer Christina Thomas was at the nail salon with her sister and grandmother when she received an unsatisfactory eyebrow waxing and refused to pay for the service.

The staff ended up getting violent with the three Black women, with employees hitting them with broomsticks, dustpans, and their hands. A Facebook video of the brawl went viral, which led to protesters trying to shut the down the salon, as well as other Asian-owned nail salons. It also led to a movement amongst Black women to patronize Black-owned businesses.

The New York Healthy Nail Salon Coalition was quick to condemn the violence of New Red Apple Nails’ employees, stating that “at no point, is any level of violence needed or justified,” while Asian American community organizations banded together to call out our complicity to Black oppression. “White supremacy is upheld when Asian American workers who are sometimes exploited with long days and low pay may unjustly take their frustration out with Black customers,” the statement read.

PHOTO: GARY LEONARD/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES. A row of destroyed businesses after the Los Angeles Riots.

This incident does not stand alone. In fact, there is a long history of Black-Asian conflict in America, and tensions were especially high in the early 1990s in New York and Los Angeles. In 1990, the Flatbush boycott, also known as the Family Red Apple boycott, broke out following the assault of a Haitian woman by employees of the Korean-owned grocery in Brooklyn’s predominately-Black Flatbush neighborhood.

Black protestors called for the boycott of all Korean-owned stores. In 1991, convenience store owner Soon Ja Du shot and killed 15-year-old Latasha Harlins after she wrongly accused Harlins of trying to shoplift a bottle of orange juice from her South Los Angeles store; a security camera video showed the girl had money in her hand to pay for it. Du didn’t serve any jail time.

Harlins’ death is cited as a catalyst to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which Korean-owned stores were targeted, looted, and destroyed. Fast-forward to March last year, when Black community members in Charlotte, NC protested Missha Beauty store after owner Sung Ho Lim was filmed choking a Black female customer he suspected of stealing. These infamous incidents have become emblematic of Black-Korean conflict, which has been widely documented and researched.

“Although ‘Black-Korean conflict’ may have largely disappeared from front page headline news, the reality of racially-distinct immigrant small business entrepreneurs operating in poor, underserved minority neighborhoods persists as a formula for potential conflict,” wrote author Miliann Kang in The Managed Hand: Race, Gender, and the Body in Beauty Service Work. “The potential for misunderstandings and dissatisfaction remains high in service exchanges involving emotional and embodied dimensions across various social divisions.”

Each publicized incident called into question the anti-Black biases of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans. But the boycotts that followed were often xenophobia-tinged retaliations, depicting a sort of tit-for-tat cycle between communities. In the protests following the August 3 incident at New Red Apple Nails, “Where’s ICE?” was heard among the chants outside of a second salon blocks away, Beautiful Red Apple Nails, according to New York Post. An employee at Beautiful Red Apple Nails told the New York Times that the two similarly-named businesses are not owned by the same people.

In 1990, the Haitian woman involved in the scuffle that began the Flatbush boycott allegedly told the cashier, “Yon Chinese, Korean motherfucker. Go back to your country,” according to a report from The New Republic. During the ensuing protests, a Black teen bashed the skull of a Vietnamese resident with a hammer, as his accomplices yelled “Koreans go home.”

These sentiments mirror the xenophobic rhetoric often experienced by non-white immigrants, and call to mind, for Asian Americans, the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese man who was murdered by two white men who mistook him for Japanese. People of color often adopt the same an anti-immigrant mentality and buy into the fear of Yellow Peril created by white supremacy and nationalism — systems that make everybody complicit to them, including the oppressed.

Sociologist Tamara K. Nopper argued against depicting these Black-Asian conflicts as “mutual misunderstanding” in a 2015 article. “The use of ‘mutual’ misunderstanding suggests shared status or power, with each group contributing to each other’s vulnerability and suffering,” Nopper wrote. “The employment of the mutual misunderstanding framework suggests Asian store owners desire identification with and from Black customers across class and race lines. Yet many studies of Asian immigrant storeowners show they hold racist views of Black people and associate them with negative qualities purportedly absent among Asians.”

Asian Americans must admit and rectify the ways we uphold white supremacy, namely our anti-Blackness. Much like the U.S., Asian countries suffer from colorism and caste systems within their own societies. “Anti-Blackness is foundational to the creation of America,” said Diane Wong, an assistant professor and faculty fellow at NYU Gallatin, whose research has focused on the gentrification of Chinatowns and Afro-Asian solidarities. “It’s no secret then that anti-Blackness is reflected in Asian immigrant families, businesses, institutions and interpersonal relationships on a frequent basis.”

As a society, we have “progressed” from lynchings to viral videos of violence against Black people, from police killings and brutality to baseless accusations of criminality. In retail spaces, Black people continue to experience racism and antagonization. When Asians internalize and perpetuate anti-Black racism and violence, we are reifying our complicity and driving a deeper wedge between the minority groups.

It’s important to note that two groups are not equally positioned in larger structures of power, especially when one racial group is profiting off the other, which is oftentimes the case in these violent clashes between Black people and Asians.

“Race is certainly a factor, but it is not the only factor,” Kang, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said in an interview. Kang’s research has focused on Asian-owned nail salons and their racially diverse customers. “Many nail salon workers are under pressure to work quickly and keep costs down, which does not create the best environment for building customer relations.

The potential for tensions is heightened by the intimacy of the service, which involves direct physical contact, and the fact that many of the workers and owners are immigrants who do not speak the language or understand the culture of their customers.” In these scenarios, the tension is stoked by economic stress: the salon workers who often work for low wages under poor conditions, and the mostly working class clientele who cannot afford to waste money on subpar service.

Kang stressed the importance of putting these largely publicized conflicts in context. “I have observed hundreds of interactions in salons in this neighborhood that were very cordial and where workers and customers were very respectful and appreciative of each other,” she said.

Our perspectives are largely shaped by the way Black-Asian conflict is covered in media. “There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to reporting on salient issues that affect both Black and Asian communities,” Wong said. However, when videos of Asian business owners and workers inflicting violence on Black customers go viral, when Asian American activists protest in support for Peter Liang, an NYPD officer who shot an unarmed Black man in a stairwell, the message received by the public is that Asians do not care about Black lives.

These acts of violence are only a microcosm of the conflict between the minority groups, moments when the tension bubbles up to the surface and pops. There have been many ways statistics about Asian American achievement and the “model minority” myth have been used as a wedge between Asians and other minority groups, most notably through Ed Blum’s anti-affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard.

Many Asian Americans have thrown their support behind ending affirmative action and in support of standardized testing in school admission, placing their own concerns ahead of the communities marginalized by these systems, namely Black, Brown, and indigenous peoples.

As a kid, I used to cringe when my dad, a self-proclaimed Democrat, would use slurs to refer to Black people, sometimes rolling my eyes and shouting “Daddy!” at him. Now, I realize that I must do more than just cringe. It is my generation’s job to undo the legacy of anti-Black racism within our communities and to resist complicity with white supremacy — and it starts with talking about it.

 

by TIFFANY DIANE TSO for Refinery 29

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Black Owned Nail Salons You Should Know

I was scrolling through our Instagram page @shoppeblack and saw a video of a Black woman being attacked at an Asian nail salon in Brooklyn. Someone filmed employees of a nail salon attacking a customer with a broom and throwing liquid at her while she tries to fight them off.

The video which has since gone viral has led to multiple arrests, public outrage, and protests calling for the salon to shut down.

I’m going to file this incident under “Another reason to Support Black Owned Businesses.” In this case, Black owned nail salons.

While I know that there were training and entrepreneurship programs set up in the US for Asian immigrants, particularly Vietnamese women who still dominate ownership in the eight billion dollar nail industry, I still question why there are so few Black owned salons and/or why we choose not to go to them if we know about them.

That said, in response to some of your comments about us needing and wanting Black-owned nail salons to patronize, we’ve compiled a list around the US and internationally. (#BlackBusinessesInTheDiasporaMatterToo).

I’m sure we left out a few, so feel free to add another Black owned nail salons that do good work in the comments. And note, we’re not just talking about just any Black owned nail salons, but those that are clean, aesthetically nice, where they do good work and where customer service matters.

Black Owned Nail Salons

Marché Rue Dix (Brooklyn)

Free Edge Beauty Studio (Brooklyn)

Free Edge Beauty Studio

Dera Ebele’s Nail Boutique (Franklin Square, NY)

Dera Ebele’s Nail Boutique

SHIC by Soketah’s (Brooklyn, NY)

Palms Nail Bar (Arlington, TX)

Shine Nails (Chicago, IL)

A Polished Work Nail Spa Lounge (Chicago, IL)

A Polished Work Nail Spa Lounge

Beautiful Sisters Nail Spa (Chicago, IL)

Beautiful Sisters Nail Spa

Simply Panache Nail Bar and Pedi Spa (Hampton, VA)

Nails by Tiara (Atlanta, GA)

Poochiez Pawz Nail Studio (Atlanta, GA)

Poochiez Pawz

Divine Designz (Jacksonville, NC)

Alicia B Nail Bar (Columbia, SC)

Artisan Nail Studio (Charlotte, NC)

Studio 7 The Salon and Spa (Baltimore, MD)

Cre8tions Nail Spa (District Heights, MD)

Scrub Nail Boutique (Baltimore, MD)

Ms.Glitter Nail Lounge and Spa (Oakland, CA)

Ms.Glitter Nail Lounge and Spa

Powder Beauty Co (Los Angeles, CA)

Powder Beauty Co

Blessed By Beedy Nails (New Orleans, LA)

Z Luxury (West Hartford, CT)

Cher-Mère (Ontario, Canada)

Colour Riot Nails (London, UK)

Colour riot

Class Act Nails (Marietta, GA)

Nails by Keda (Cleveland, OH)

The Nail Tailor (San Pedro, CA)

Nola Organic Spa (New Orleans, LA)

Klassy Koats (Houston, TX)

Klassy Koats

-Tony O. Lawson


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