The saturation of nail spas in Montgomery County leaves many residents with the daunting task of choosing the perfect salon that will leave them with an immaculate manicure and pedicure.
As the popularity of nail artistry and unique, jaw-dropping designs continues to rise, nail artist Tan Nguyen, who specializes in acrylics and gel polishes, is competing in the national Next Top Nail Artist competition.
“I’ve been doing nails since 1994, and I started getting serious about it in 1996,” said Nguyen, owner of Nails N2 Art.
After becoming acclimated with the small Asian community while he was stationed in Jacksonville, N.C., as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, the owner of Pro Nails salon was happy to take Nguyen under his wing.
“I used to draw tattoos for people and he asked, ‘Hey if you can draw on this, can you draw on nails?’And so that’s where we went; he started training me,” Nguyen said. “I said, ‘Really man? Doing nails?’ I didn’t think it was a guy job; but when I saw the artistic side of it, I got hooked.”
More than 20 years later, Nguyen finds himself at the forefront of the industry, competing as the only male in NAILS Magazine’s Next Top Nail Artists.
“It puts a lot on your shoulders in a sense,” Nguyen said. “Trying to compete in a women-dominated industry, but the art side of it keeps me here. You can make a career out it.”
And he’s done just that.
Out of hundreds of thousands of entries into the competition, Nguyen has survived several tough elimination rounds, leaving him as a finalist among 11 other competitors.
“For the second challenge, we had to do a video documentary about us doing the work; and that was a three-word tagline consisting of who you are,” Nguyen said.
“I chose dreams, confident and faith. I did a Buddha for faith, a dream capture for the dreams and two dragons for confident representing the yin and yang. With everything I do, I try to create a masculine and feminine feel.”
The Next Top Nail Artist competition goes live starting Sept. 7, when fans can begin voting for their favorite competitor online at nailsmag.com/nexttopnailartist.
Although Nguyen is under the pressure of the competition, he still wants to give back to Conroe, the city he’s called home since 2012.
“I want to be able to do something for breast cancer,” Nguyen said. “I want to do a charity event and want to do services for three different clients valued at $100 each. All proceeds would go toward breast cancer research. If I can just get three people, it would take about two hours to work with each client.”
Nguyen also wants to make a change in the Vietnamese industry regarding nail art.
“I’m trying to educate newer technicians, whether they’re Vietnamese or not, through education,” Nguyen said. “It’s where we can change the community. Instead of being labeled as cheap discount salons, that’s important.”
Nguyen reflected on 2015 being the 40-year anniversary of the 20 Vietnamese women who were living in a refugee camp near Sacramento, Calif., when actress Tippi Hendren decided to fund a beauty school to teach the women how to do manicures.
Nguyen said Hendren still is referred to as the “godmother” of the now $8 billion industry.
To book an appointment with Nguyen, or for more information about Nails N2 Art, call 832-499-5417.