LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — In honor of Asian American Heritage Month, FOX 56 News focused on an industry that is thriving from Asian culture; the nail salon business.
One family here in the Bluegrass immigrated from Cambodia and started a successful nail salon that continues to grow today.
Behind the business of Lavish Nails is the son of Cambodian immigrant, Visal Heng.
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Heng’s family survived a genocide known as Khmer Rouge, which took place in the late seventies. The Communist Party of Kampuchea claimed two million lives, but Heng’s family was fortunate enough to escape.
“Growing up, my parents were part of the diplomatic community in Cambodia,” Heng said. “We just had some hardships during the Khmer Rouge. And unfortunately, my parents had to flee Cambodia because there were a lot of mass genocides happening. In 2001 is when they immigrated here to Kentucky. I was born in Cambodia, raised in Seattle, Washington, and then we moved here because my mom actually got a position as a nail tech here in Kentucky.”
Heng’s parents opened a nail salon in Lexington and it was his first job, as he put himself through pharmacy school.
“I grew up doing nails as well,” Heng said. “I needed to find something that I could do that would pay for college as well. Being able to go to school and in the nail industry, once you get your license, you can work kind of as is.”
As Heng polished his skills, he realized going into a career in pharmacy was not his passion. It was the art of nails. Heng started Lavish Nails with his partner Ana, and the two partners have grown their business in just two short years from one location in Lexington to multiple locations across Georgetown, Nicholasville, and Nashville, Tennessee.
Heng said his family wants to also grow the art of the nail industry.
“My family kind of builds up a designs scheme in the worlds and nails. So, anything from solid designs to crystals to encapsulation of the nails,” Heng said.
Lavish Nails is not done growing.
In December, Heng said the Lexington location will be renovated and new services will be added from lashes to waxing, and massage.