New York

Nail Salon, the lifeline of immigrants, has lost half of its business

Lee Joo-young is the only person most of the day at Beverly Nail Studios, a salon in Flushing, Queens. It’s often eerily quiet, and when no guests come, Lee sometimes sits on a workstation and cries.

“Maybe I’ll be busy tomorrow,” she said. “I’m waiting.”

Like a nail salon in New York City, her business had to be closed when a pandemic broke out in March. Demand surged temporarily after the blockade was lifted in July, but schedules began to decline thereafter. Customers often requested cheaper service. Now they rarely come.

The city’s cosmetology industry appeared to be in a good position to recover after the regulations were over. After all, many customers spent months without professional grooming. But today, many of these businesses are on the verge of collapse. This has hit the industry, which is the economic driving force for migrant women.

Some nail salons have a hard time convincing them that they can come to the store safely. Especially in Manhattan’s business district, many nail salons leave the city or work from home, so regular customers haven’t returned yet.

Lee, 53, who put 26 years of nail salon experience and 20 years of savings into his business, said there was nothing else he could imagine. But she is barely floating.

“It used to be hard, but I was always able to pay bills, but now no matter how hard I work, it’s not profitable,” he said.

A October survey of 161 salon owners conducted by the New York Nail Industry Federation found that visits to nail salons in the state fell by more than 50% and sales fell by more than 40%.

“The workforce is primarily migrant workers who live from salary to salary, support children and often support their own illnesses and older families,” said Luis Gomez, director of the association’s organization. Says. “With the effects of the recession and pandemic on top, many workers are expected to fall further into poverty.”

In Queens, Rambika Ulak KC, 50, said he had hired all 10 employees part-time because he had so many businesses right after he reopened in July. But now she sees only about four customers a day.

Mr. Ulac dropped out of a university in Nepal and came to the United States. When she developed a carpal tunnel from giving a manicure, or when a customer dissatisfied with her poor English angered her, she stared at a picture of her daughter taped to the wall. It was. Now, as her business is eroded, she finds herself looking back at the photos more often.

“That’s why I work so hard,” said Ulac. “So I can tell her,’Don’t think about my future, just be happy and focus on your research.'”

The salon could be reopened in July with 50% capacity, waiting rooms were banned and carry-on was not recommended.

Indoor services increase the risk of viral infections, but Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of beauty and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, said that everyone wears masks and customers are properly socially distanced. If so, “Somewhat safer than indoors. Dining.”

Still, many industry leaders are worried that salons will not be able to regain full customer trust and then regain full confidence until vaccines are widely used.

According to a 2018 report conducted by the UCLA Labor Center, 81% of the workforce of nail salons nationwide is female and 79% are foreign-born.

Praarthana Gurung, campaign manager for Adhikaar, a Nepalese work center that supports about 1,300 Nepali-speaking salon workers in New York City, said that as the industry continues to crater, the career flexibility of older women diminishes. He said he could.

“There is a subset of women who have been in the nail salon industry for decades, and that’s what happens,” Grun said.

60-year-old Hannah Lee is one of the women. She has only worked in nail salons since arriving in the United States. She said she reluctantly left South Korea after her husband persuaded her that she would have a better job.

She missed South Korea, but didn’t complain. As a salon worker, Lee learned English at work, saved enough money to send her son to college, and always paid rent on time.

Even today, Lee recognizes that he is lucky to be hired back at the Queens and Manhattan salons where he worked before the pandemic. But lately, she said, there are few customers in either salon. She often receives only a few dollars in a tip, and sometimes not at all.

Her salary plummeted from $ 1,000 to $ 300 a week. She said her rent was late and she could hardly afford groceries. However, she refused to look into other industries and said she was looking for a third nail salon gig, despite her health concerns.

“I just want to feel comfortable in my life. I don’t want to worry when going to work about whether customers will come today or get infected with the virus today,” she says in Korean. I did.

At Jackson Heights, Queens, 38-year-old Mariu Bay Ramirez recently returned to work after being fired for the second time at the Lego Park Salon, where he was working to close the neighborhood.

For the first time, back in March, it was financially devastating for Ramirez, who was not qualified to collect unemployment because it was not documented. Even now, Ramirez, a single mother, was hired only part-time. Her wages went from $ 700 to $ 400 a week.

Ramirez moved from Mexico to the United States 18 years ago and worked in the salon industry for 17 years with his first brother.

“I don’t know how to do anything else. For the last few years I’ve been working in a nail salon. It’s really my whole life,” she said in Spanish.

The only silver lining is that she has free time, so she enrolled in a class to learn English — partly to give her more job opportunities, but once the pandemic has subsided, nails. To make progress in the salon industry.

Jooyoung Lee, the owner of Beverly Nail Studio, moved from South Korea to New York 30 years ago. When she arrived, she could only find a job in the dry cleaning, clothing and nail salon industries due to her limited English.

She first got a job at a garment factory, but a few years later it was closed. She tried her luck in the nail business, saved more than 20 years and opened her own salon.

When Lee first visited a vacant salon store in 2014, she remembered that realtors couldn’t imagine a used space turning into a nail shop. But Lee could see it — pink walls, rows of luxurious pedicure chairs, and a collection of nail polish in all possible colors.

“This was my dream,” Lee said. “Really, this is the dream of every employee to open their own salon.”

Nail Salon, the lifeline of immigrants, has lost half of its business

Source link Nail Salon, the lifeline of immigrants, has lost half of its business

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