By Violeta Trevizo
According to Nails Magazine, Vietnamese-Americans make up 48 percent of workers in the nail industry. Hung Dong is part of that statistic. He along with his wife Melissa own Dove Nails Salon in Lubbock, Texas.
The couple bought the business in 2001. Their business is something Melissa refers to as a “mom and pop shop,” since The Dongs are the only employees.
“From working with other people in salons, we decided to be very different, and decided in a sense of keeping it in the family,” Melissa said. “It’s hard to find people with a long working history in one specific area so we decided to keep it a two-person salon.”
For Hung, his business is more than a source of income, it represents his determination since coming to the United States as a refugee.
“We didn’t have enough food or water,” Hung said.
He is no stranger to hardship or poverty, but when he and his brother were able to apply for visas, Hung’s life changed forever.
“We could apply to any country: Australia, France, Canada, America,” Hung said. “I applied to America.”
Although Hung and Melissa met working at a restaurant, he knew that was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. In a few years Hung went from living on $2 a day to owning his own business.
Hung believes many fellow Vietnamese immigrants get into this business because they lack English-speaking skills and it doesn’t take a lot of money to start off.
“When we come to America, you don’t speak English — what kind of job do you get? Work at a restaurant? Be an office cleaner?” he said. “Nail business doesn’t require a lot of education. You get out, you don’t need to speak a lot of English. Third thing they have skills.”
Skills he decided to put to use to achieve the coveted “American Dream.” The couple has loyal customers that aren’t leaving them anytime soon. And Hung said he could not be more grateful for his life.
“I’m glad I came to America, I’m glad God brought me here for a reason,” Hung said. “I’m glad I have my wife to help me.”
Melissa too, believes their success is a blessing and works hard to continue on that path. She says her husband’s story is admirable and inspires her every day.
“For anyone who’s wanting to open a business or become something totally different, you can do it,” Melissa said. “If you put your mind to it and God first, you will make it.”