In 1984, a young women left her home, family and culture in hopes of a better future. At the time, Vietnam, her home, was a corrupt country where people couldn’t do what they wanted. The government was known for taking people’s money and opportunities for education were limited. Cindy Tran left her country to join her sister in America for freedom and to pursue her education. That was over 30 years ago, and today Tran is the proud owner of Sixth Avenue Salon in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tran welcomed me with a warm smile as I walked in and asked me in her strong Vietnamese accent, “How are you today?” I was always curious what it was about the beauty industry that interested her. This was a great opportunity for me to learn about her culture and how she was able to start her own business.
Going into the beauty industry was the last thing Tran thought she would do, since she moved to the U.S. to pursue her education. After high school, a friend suggested they go to beauty school. The idea wasn’t appealing to Tran at all at the time, but her friend told her that she should try it and if she didn’t like it she could drop out. After a month of beauty school Tran’s friend ironically dropped out and Tran stayed because she was actually loving the experience.
Learning English was by far one of the most difficult things for Tran. “I cried all the time when I went to school. You read and write and when people speak, it’s so different,” she said. She learned English from her niece and nephew but doing nails is what truly helped her. “I learn a lot when I do nail because my clients teach me a lot.” She said that Americans are really nice and always help her pronounce words the right way.
After her 1-year program of beauty school, Tran worked at a nail salon called Nail Master where she was able to shadow others and become better at her job. After four years of working at Nail Master, she was able to start her own business through the help of her clients. “They don’t help you with the money, but they help you to know where to go and how to open my own business,” Tran said. Her clients guided her to the places she needed to go to start her salon.
Sixth Avenue Salon is located on 480 East Sixth Avenue. The building was recently remodeled and has a beautiful dark blue exterior with big glass windows and doors. Tran opened Sixth Avenue Salon about 14 years ago. In addition to manicures and pedicures, she also does facials, waxing and body massages. She owns and runs the place by herself. If she ever gets busy she has a niece and a friend who she calls to come help her.
Tran has built a clientele over the years and provides services to regulars each week. She said that her clients have become her second family because she sees them so often. “I love when I make people look beautiful and making others feel good about themselves,” she said. Other than doing nails, Tran loves cooking with her husband. Tran says that people from Vietnam are really good with their hands and going into the beauty industry was a great way for her to start her own business. However, she hopes to open her own restaurant someday and her ultimate dream is to open a day spa.