Justice :: Nail Salons

nailsYears before I heard Beth Cossin talk about human trafficking and the prevalence of it in nail salons, I contemplated the business viability of my favorite local nail salon. Here’s my question: I pay $20 for a manicure with gel nails and about $25 for a pedicure. Each service takes about an hour. When you consider deducting expenses, does this allow a sustainable margin? Is the salon making enough to adequately pay the person doing my nails?

Earlier this month New York Times published two pieces on the topic here and here. The journalist reveals the prevalence of extremely low wages – including evidence of wages being withheld – as well as poor working and living conditions. Forget benefits. As a result of the investigation, NY Gov. Cuomo has issued an emergency order to help address the issue. In short, salon-by-salon investigations. The salons that don’t pass get shut down.

Is this the answer? I’m not sure. If you close a salon then these workers – mostly women – may not get $3 an hour, they’ll get nothing. If even a small percentage of the salons are closed, are there other jobs for these women available? Are they trained or qualified? My guess is that the women become are even more vulnerable for other forms of injustice.

I don’t have answers – only questions. When talking about this with my husband, he asked if my awareness made me want to stop getting my nails done. No! On the contrary, it makes me want to support the salon, tip at a higher rate and perhaps help ensure that the ladies who regularly serve me are helped.

I’m interested in your thoughts! Please, share! But more importantly, be aware.


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