We had the good fortune of connecting with Thu Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Thu, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Montrose Nails was built by two Vietnamese immigrant sisters who felt the need for a smaller salon that would naturally fit into the neighborhood culture of Houston’s Fourth Ward/Montrose. The key factor behind that, and the eventual success of the salon, was the guiding principle to treat everyone like family. Our clients are our family: not only do we care for their nails and skin with just as much attention to detail as with our own children, sibling, or parents, we eventually grow to share each others’ joys and sorrows. The salon has been open for nearly 17 years now, which might be a testament to the strong community that has grown around it.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our salon is small, no-frills, and (when there’s no pandemics) is typically appointment-only on Saturdays. I think what sets us apart is the attention to detail in our services, which we prioritize over other details like fancy decor or free drinks. We also probably offer every nail polish color (in gel and regular) that you can think of! We’ve had our fair share of business slumps, break-ins, and other obstacles like increasing costs of supplies, but our clientele are thankfully very understanding. As a business owner, in any sort of business, it’s important to remember that you’re not just a profit-maker. Your shop should be a representation of the kind of community you want to live in, and your conduct and actions will have impact on more than just the people patronize your business.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Breakfast: Laredo Taqueria. If you’re in Texas and you’re not getting breakfast tacos, what are you doing? Afterwards, we’ll drive over to Catalina to grab a coffee and enjoy the morning sunshine. When the sun gets higher and it really starts to get hot, it’s time to duck into the Museum of Fine Arts. There’s always something for everyone, and plenty of common space to hang out and people watch! For a light lunch, we head into Midtown to grab banh mi or some bun thit nuong (grilled beef vermicelli) at Cali Sandwich. People often cite Les Givrals as their banh mi go-to, but that’s because they haven’t been to Cali. My favourite way to walk off lunch, and walk towards dinner, is to hop over to Westheimer Rd and walk the stretch of thrift shops, boutiques, and antique stores between Yupon St. walking towards Dunlavy St. By then, we’ve ended up at Paulie’s just in time for dinner! No better way to end the day than with amazing pasta and delightful shortbread cookies. (This itinerary is endorsed by both Thu and her mom.)

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many names that deserve a shoutout! All of our regular clients who have watched me grow up, you know who you are, have been a huge factor in my life. They have pushed me to used my voice, inspired me to go beyond my own expectations, and some have taken me under their wing as a mentee.

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