What we stand for
Being a nail technician isn't an uncommon job for migrants in New Zealand. The promise of earning lots of money is often met by the reality of an underpaid, overworked culture, where the owners try to squeeze every dollar out of each customer while treating their workers as workhorses.
Having experienced this first-hand, Nghi is no stranger to modern-day slavery and worker exploitation by migrant-owned nail businesses. At one point, her hourly rate was averaged to $10 per hour (minimum wage in NZ at the time was $16.5), often working 10 hours a day and 6 days a week.
What’s worse, it’s not just one business - it's a norm among many owners to exploit naive migrants (often people from the same country!). Speaking little English and not knowing New Zealand laws, they’re sometimes threatened by employers to have their visa forfeited if they don't do what they're told.
While we’re talking, this is happening to thousands of workers in this country. It’s unethical and just fucking wrong.
We believe owners can pay fair wages, treat staff with fairness, and respect, and can still build a sustainable business. In fact, it’s the only way of doing business.
Honouring the artists
The art of nail takes thousands of hours to perfect, and thus the nail artist should be recognised for their talent and hard-work.
It’s also a meaningful job, where the artists are uniquely positioned to make a client’s vision come true. It’s within their power to empower self-confidence and make people feel good about themselves.
We want the 1999 House of Nails to be a place where fairness and respect are a given. It’s a community where nail artists are appreciated, and where they get to build a meaningful career out of doing what they love.
Nghi Dinh and Tri Phung