Everyone knows Tippi Hedren was a leading lady in Hollywood, starring in two classic Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie. But leave it to CND co-founder Jan Arnold to discover that Hedren also pioneered the Vietnamese-American nail professional movement in the U.S. in the 1970s. Arnold, who’s a good friend to this magazine, has a knack for unearthing great stories like this. In September, I attended the second annual Beauty Changes Lives Legacy of Style Award Ceremony in Beverly Hills, CA, where Hedren was honored by the Beauty Changes Lives (BCL) foundation.
Also on-hand at the event were Vietnamese actress and philanthropist Kieu-Chinh; actress Rena Sofer; Thuan Le, one of the “Original 20” Vietnamese refugees who worked with Hedren; as well as a number of beauty industry influencers, including Tam Nguyen, president of Advance Beauty College in Garden Grove, CA, a segment of Orange County with one of the country’s largest Vietnamese populations.
“It’s such a delight to honor Tippi Hedren’s lifelong commitment to the education and empowerment of women in the nail community,” Arnold told the crowd, recounting how Hedren began working with Vietnamese women at Camp Hope, a refugee camp near Sacramento, after Saigon fell. The women admired Hedren’s long, glossy nails, so she began flying her manicurist to Camp Hope every weekend to teach 20 of the women how to do nails. Her contribution to this group of professionals has propelled the Vietnamese-American nail industry to new heights, which today accounts for 50 percent of the total U.S. professional nail industry. Vietnamese-Americans now dominate the multibillion-dollar nail salon business in North America.
“Helping young Vietnamese women empower themselves during what was a difficult time brought great joy to my life,” Hedren said after being presented with the Legacy of Style Award by Arnold and Lynelle Lynch, president of Beauty Changes Lives. “I’m honored to accept this award and to lend my name to the BCL CND scholarship fund, as I know it will bring new opportunities to many young women and men aspiring to join the nail profession.”
Hedren also noted that the Vietnamese people came to America to seek a better life and showed thanks by being productive, hard-working, entrepreneurial members of American society. “They never wanted to be a burden on the USA—their goal was to become successful American citizens,” Hedren said. In Hollywood, this is what they call a happy ending. I hope you’ll join me in saluting Tippi Hedren for giving so many the chance to live the American Dream.
✂ —Brett Vinovich, publisher, [email protected]