Long Vu: Humble Beginnings To Hollywood Nails
And Spa Salon Owner
By: Asia World Media
On a beautiful sunny day, Long Vu, owner and founder of Hollywood Nails and Spa Salon, sat down with Asia World Media for an exclusive interview. While waiting for Long, it was apparent that this was not an ordinary salon. The interiors were spacious with high ceilings. The rooms were full of plants, sculptures and arts, all displayed against beige and taupe walls.
When we met with him, Long greeted us in jeans and an artsy T-Shirt. He offered us drinks, and said these were standard complimentary offerings at all of his salons.
That marked the beginning of the interview, and little did we realize what we were about to learn about Long. From his journey as an orphan to owning an empire of salons – his story was one of courage, determination and a will to succeed.
Long is “Amerasian,” or American and Asian. He was born to a U.S. military father and a Vietnamese mother. Long grew up from an unpopular war between North and South Vietnam, where “Amerasian” children were often unwanted and abandoned by their mothers. Long was not an exception, as his mother gave him up for adoption soon after remarrying.
During his childhood, Long lived with 23 different families in Vietnam as a foster child. Life was very difficult for him as he was never truly accepted by any of his foster families. Long became misty-eyed as he told us the story of him being compared to a dog by one of his foster families. In another case, he had to hide the potatoes which he helped to plant and farm for his foster family so that he would have something to eat. Potatoes were seen as a luxury food – something foster children didn’t “deserve”.Mr. Vu recalled the recurring thoughts he had on many lonely nights as a child, “Why would a mother abandoned her child to live a life of misery?”However, on November 13, 1990, Long’s fate was about to change.
Long was given the opportunity to come to the United States through a government sponsored program for “Vietnamese Amerasian” children. Long first immigrated to be with a family in California, but when he learned that his uncle’s wife was making good money at a nail salon, he decided to try to make a living in the nail industry.
So Long attended a salon school (conducted in Vietnamese). After graduation, Long found work in Florida and later relocated to Texas. Despite Long’s talent for beautifying women’s nails, he struggled to communicate with his English-speaking customers. Long found a way around this by creating a mold of round nails and square nails. If his clients could not understand him, he would point to the molds so that clients could point to which they wanted.
Within a matter of time, customers began recognizing Long and requested his work more frequently. In the beginning, he made between $50 and $150 a week. Near the end of his time there, he made more than $1000. However, as Long made more money, his landlord began to increase his rent. This led Long to start his own salon.
Currently, Long owns multiple salons across Texas with more than 800 clients every month.
We asked Long what his formula for success was, and he answered:
“I still have to work and work.”
He added that he has always thought about “work” and will continue to live with this mentality.
In recent years, Long has given his wealth back to the community. He has specifically offered his help to veterans and charities by donating both his earnings and gift cards from his salons.
Looking to the future, Long Vu hopes to continue opening more salons in keeping with his “work” ideologies.
From orphanage to orphanage, summer heat to freezing winters, and the first salon to the addition of new future salons, Long is the embodiment of “where there is a will, there is a way.”