Since she came to the United States as a teen refugee from Vietnam, Jacqueline Van has lived in 25 states. According to her, she’s been living in Chicago and has built up a loyal clientele at her Wicker Park nail salon, Fantasy Nails in the previous nine years.
In her teen years, she began working at her parent’s nail shop in Michigan, from where she started developing her skills in nail tech and nail art. She used to take customers on a part-time basis while completing her school. She said the battle of moving all as a refugee, working at her parent’s shop, imparted in her a solid hard working attitude.
While she built up those skills working at her family’s shop, she earned two degrees in business and in accounting.
“But I’m still paying all of my student loans,” Van said. “I didn’t like the whole cubicle scene and so I just continued doing nails.”
At Fantasy Nails, the environment resembles being in a place or a room with every one of your lady friends. Van depicted her methodology for creating the welcoming atmosphere — staffing ladies of a wide range of racial backgrounds and language capabilities.
The different environment and magnificence of the Windy City inspired her for her most loved nail art design — the Chicago skyline.
“Chicagoans like to experiment with their nails, with their styles, they’re not afraid to try new things, and they want to try new things,” Van said. “I love when they come in and just give me free reign on what to do.”
When she finds the opportunity to be inventive, she makes bright, colorful, textured abstract, conceptual nail art designs or themed styles. For example, unicorns to praise gay pride, rainbows, and clovers for St. Patrick’s day, or turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Van said working with a diverse staff is a key to an effective business.
“It breaks down barriers between everyone,” she said. “If some people don’t speak English they could speak to this person or that person.” She also wanted to shake off the negative stereotype that Asian-owned nail salons are “unfriendly.”
It additionally supports customers from different backgrounds and of diverse languages. The thing that Van loves about her job as a nail art specialist is her access to meet individuals from all diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, and professions. By the day’s end, she stated, individuals simply need somebody to vent to.
Yet at the same time, most often client services can be the hardest part.
“If their mood and energy is bad, it makes you go down with them,” Van said. “You can’t please everybody.”