Ten years after immigrating, mother and student open nail salon in Chelmsford

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a series on the new faces of business in Chelmsford, Westford and Littleton.

CHELMSFORD – Sophakannaka Khuong immigrated from Cambodia to the United States as a child and struggled to adjust to a new home and lifestyle.

A decade later, she owns her own salon, Jasmine Nails, celebrating a grand opening on August 28.

For inspiration, she turns to family, especially the memory of her mother, who died last year.

Khuong, from Lowell, recently spoke about his new venture, balancing business, school and parenthood, and his dreams for the future.

What services does Jasmine Nails offer?

We offer manicures, pedicures … we have basic pedicures and spa pedicures. A spa is … all the herbs and scents that rejuvenate, release stress and detoxify. We have services for women, children and men.

Men tend to have a lot of calluses and cuticles, so we give them a slightly different treatment.

When did you decide to open this business?

I have my license … since 2010. I had in mind to open a nail salon … at the beginning of the year, my brother and I were sitting, analyzing our goals for the year. We made a plan and implemented it.

In June my friend said, “They’re selling this store. A friend of mine bought it, but his mom couldn’t get it to work. She said, “Do you know anyone who wants to buy a salon? And I said, ‘Well, I do.’

Jasmine Nails opened just outside the Chelmsford Center on September 20, 2021.

What type of training should staff have?

They should know the basics – manicure, pedicure. Most of the employees, before I hired them, were already doing nails. They must have a permit. This is the number one requirement.

What COVID Precautions Do You Have?

We are all vaccinated. We ask all customers to wash their hands. We have shields. It is their choice whether or not to wear a mask, but we want to let them know that we are all vaccinated.

How long have you been doing nails?

It’s been about 10 years. At the time, I was in high school, so I was part-time. Then I went full time. I quit, took a break, went back to school and worked part time. Before COVID, I worked full time with nails and other jobs. Then COVID struck. The salon closed and everyone stopped during the pandemic.

Sophakannaka Khuong, from Lowell, recently celebrated the opening of her new salon, Jasmine Nails in Chelmsford.  Staff recently posed for a photo.  From left to right are Thyto Bin, Khuong, Rotha Rosado, Srey Nouch, Elizabeth Thach and Kievy Khuong.

COVID has posed many challenges. How did it affect you?

Before COVID hit, I was working as a chemical operator in a company, but I was working weekends. During the week, I worked in a nail salon. I was part time in school and have a 7 year old daughter.

What was really difficult during COVID was that I had to quit my job, because my daughter was staying home for school … I can’t even go to my part-time job.

What were your coping strategies?

During this time, what occupied me was my daughter. On top of that, I was able to take more online courses.

I am preparing for a degree in psychology. I work slowly, because now I take it part-time.

How to find a balance with a business, a school and a family?

I have my little brother … I have my big sister, who works, but we all live together. I have my aunt, who has just moved from Cambodia, and my boyfriend. My mother has just passed away.

I’m still taking a class. I don’t want to program myself too much … what inspired me is my cousin. She always tells me, ‘Do it now, do it now’ … instead of continuing to pile things up. It’s all about time management.

People my age are probably still chilling out and having just one job. But for me, I prefer to push now and relax later.

When did you move to the United States?

I arrived here when I was 10 or 11, around 2005.

What was it like in a new culture?

It was all so confusing – the language, the culture, the traditions, it was so different. It took me years to adjust to a new environment … the only good thing was back then there was a teacher who was Khmer [Cambodia’s largest ethnic group,] so she helped a lot.

Jasmine Nails opened just outside the Chelmsford Center on September 20, 2021.

There are a lot of nail salons. Why did you decide to open this one?

One, it’s on the main road. Two, I like the space here. It’s not too narrow. It’s not too small. Personally, when I go to a nail salon, I want to relax and be stress free. I know what it’s like to get my nails done, to get my feet done, to take the stress out.

A client models a manicure at Jasmine Nails in Chelmsford.

What do you hope for Jasmine Nails?

What I would like to see is that we have customers consistently, inbound and outbound. What I hope is that all customers will come, love their service, and leave satisfied with what they come and come back to regularly.

Company Name

Jasmine Nails

Site

60 Chelmsford Street, Suite 3, Chelmsford

Hours

Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More information

978-965-3645, chelmsfordnailart.com

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