Born and raised in Vietnam, Nancy Tran came to Canada 12 years ago, landing in Vancouver. Her husband Tony has been here for 25 years, her brother-in-law Tommy Hua has been here for eight, and Nancy’s sister, Mary, arrived just a year ago. Although Nancy had advanced education in biology, her achievements were not recognized in Canada, so she trained to become an esthetician. Tommy and Mary, who are nail technicians, joined her at the salon she opened in Chilliwack, BC, and came with her to Brandon when she opened Nancy’s Nails at Unit 6, 559 Eighth St. (GRANT HAMILTON / BRANDON SUN)
Diane Nelson's toes, as done by Nancy Tran of Nancy's Nails. (GRANT HAMILTON / BRANDON SUN)
What prompted the move to Brandon?
You know, actually, we had a holiday in Brandon — we have a friend here — and we came here. And we thought, ‘Oh — Brandon is so nice!’ And my friend, he’s lived in Brandon for more than 30 years, and he said, ‘Brandon is a good community.’ So we just picked Brandon and now we live here!
When did you move to Brandon and open the business?
I opened the business at the beginning of May. I moved here one month before that.
You closed the store in Chilliwack, then?
No — my friend took over that store. I’m not involved anymore, but it’s still called Nancy’s Nails in Chilliwack.
How do you feel about the winters here? Chilliwack must have been nicer weather.
Chilliwack has more rain. Brandon is a little bit cold, but at least you have sunshine here!
Your English is quite good. Did you learn here or in your home country?
I am learning English — still learning — all the time. Actually, I was in university in my home country for biology. But when I came here, I could not go back to school for biology. It would take a long time to do. So I learned how to do this — esthetics — in Vancouver.
What sort of services do you offer?
We do all kinds of nails — solar nails, gel nails, acrylic nails, pedicures and manicures. And I do waxing, too.
I learned this in Vancouver. But I had to learn how to paint the designs — the nail art — in Vietnam. There’s kind of more of a market in Vietnam for the nail art. In the school in Vancouver, I learned to do everything, but they did not teach me how to do the nail art, the intricate design. I had to go back home to learn how to do the nail design.
What was it about doing this kind of work that appealed to you initially?
I like to work with the people. I like to talk! And that’s the best way for me to learn English! You know, every day, I learn English from my customers.
I’ve heard that you probably have the most reasonable rates for manicures and pedicures in Brandon. Was that intentional?
Yes. We want to be busy. And we have been happy with the number of customers we have had. But we can always use more!
We have lots of experience, and we always take time and take good care of our customers. We offer good service and we always put our heart into what we do. And we do not rush the time — we love our customers and always take our time and pamper them.
I understand you offer some special pampering to your customers, too.
Yes. We have massage chairs that the customers sit in and control themselves when they are having pedicures. So they get a massage while we work on them.
And you’re open extended hours, too, aren’t you?
We’re open from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening Monday to Saturday. And we can stay later than 7 if somebody needs us to.
On Monday in the summertime, we will be open from 9 until 7. But in the wintertime, we need to close earlier and open later on Mondays, so we will be open from noon until six on Monday in the wintertime, but 9 until 7 Tuesday through Saturday.
I know most of us tend not to take proper care of our feet all the time. Is there a common mistake that people make?
Oh yes! When people wear sandals all the time, they can build up calluses. And some people try to remove those on their own, and they can really hurt themselves and damage their feet. So they should leave it to the professionals. We are trained to do this properly.
I don’t want to buy into stereotypes here, but I think folks sometimes figure people of Asian heritage work much harder than some of the rest of us do. Those hours of operation would sort of indicate that to me, that you’re really dedicated to what you do. Does that just come from just wanting to do a good job?
Because of our immigration, we have to work hard for our kids in the future. And we have to take care of family back home — we have to make more money for the family back home.
Do you have children now?
I have one boy. He is 10 years old. And my parents are still living back home.
What’s your favourite thing about Brandon so far?
Do you know, I look at everybody in here — they’re so friendly! They’re so lovely! And in Brandon, nothing is more than 10 minutes away. So close! I love Brandon.
To make an appointment, either stop in to the Nancy’s Nails salon, or call 727-2060.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 21, 2012