It’s no secret that nails are the new accessory—the latest class of manicure innovations make it easier than ever to match your digits to every outfit in your closet, and we’re constantly admiring the detailed handiwork the pros at salons like TenOverTen and Paintbox can create. Before the big salon boom in the mid-’70s, things weren’t always this way. In-salon manis were reserved for the Hollywood elite, with prices for a full set skyrocketing into the hundreds. After being urged by her family to go into the salon industry with her cousins, filmmaker Adele Free Pham set out to showcase the influence of the Vietnamese American community on the now-popular nail category, and explore the history of Vietnamese American–owned salons in her documentary, #NailedIt. “#NailedIt follows the nail industry from its earliest days, and tells the tale of how a chance encounter between 20 female Vietnamese refugees (pictured below) and actress Tippi Hedren in 1975 changed the face of the trade and industry, once exclusive to the jet set,” she tells us. Hedren was the relief coordinator for the group Food for the Hungry, and had a hand in aiding almost 2,000 refugees emigrate and assimilate to the United States. She helped the first group of 20 women enroll in beauty school as manicurists, and from there more and more nail salons began opening, making the price for a pro-quality manicure more attainable.
“We are compelled to tell this tale of how Vietnamese nail salons are a linchpin between different cultures, Vietnamese economic autonomy, and a classic American dream story,” Pham adds. “Through this unique point of view, we can spotlight health disparities that are prompting changes in nail industry practices.”
#NailedIt is still in its initial stages, and you can help bring the film to the big screen—Pham and her colleagues have set up an Indiegogo campaign to fund the project, and almost $5,000 of the $15,000 goal has already been met! The campaign is currently running until Aug. 25 and donations of $5 and upwards will be accepted, though we’re eyeing the $35 Polished Literati package, which includes a private link to watch the film one week before its nationwide rollout, two bottles of salon-quality nail lacquer, social media shout-outs, and a signed copy of the book Same Same by Ly Nguyen. Watch the trailer for #NailedIt below, then head over to the film’s Indiegogo page to support the project and get more information.