Sisters Truc Le and Vi Le are on a mission to improve the nail industry.
Before opening their own business, Truc, who goes by the name Ivy, said she was accustomed to working 10-12 hour days. The schedule was difficult with a child at home. She also didn’t like the traditional fast pace, in which clients revolve in and out the door without much conversation.
“I wanted to get to know our customers more,” she said.
At the three-month-old Polished Nails and Spa, staff hand over each customer’s used files, buffers and pumice stones. The gesture is designed to help customers care for nails at home, and it’s also offered as proof they’re using fresh tools —something not all salons do, Ivy said.
A recent New York Times investigation into New York’s nail salon industry uncovered $100 fees for job applications; pay well below the minimum wage; and nail product ingredients linked to cancer, miscarriages and lung disease.
Ivy said she hasn’t seen wage injustice of that scale in Minneapolis. If a boss is bad, she said, a good local job market makes it easy to find new work. But the health issues are very real, she said. She has friends in the industry with chronic coughs. As a nine-year nail industry veteran, Ivy reached a point where her nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. The chemicals involved in acrylic nails are harmful to employees and customers, she said.
“Because of that I don’t do acrylics here,” she said.
The Le sisters want to be connected to the neighborhood. They used a community survey to decide whether to install televisions at the salon (they didn’t).
“We promised each other that when we do get successful, we’ll make sure to give back to the community,” Ivy said.
Polished Nails and Spa is located at 4408 Nicollet Ave. S.