There is a small business in Yanceyville that has positively impacted many of our lives. Helping us to look and feel more confident, polished, professional and even more pretty or handsome. It has been in our town since 2003 …that is 17 years of a tenant paying rent, supporting our other businesses, paying taxes and serving our community citizens young and old.
Meet Amy Hong, Owner, of Top Nails. Most of her customers just know her as ‘Amy’ and are friends with her personable college aged children Newlyn (known as Lyn) and Harris. Lynn has served our nation in Operation Inherent Resolve being deployed to Kuait and Iraq. She is now scheduled to graduate from UNCG this May. Harris, Amy’s son, graduates in December from UNCG with a degree in Biology. Amy is a strong business lady, a hard worker, strict mother, kind friend to many, and just fun to talk with as she takes care of the clients in her nail shop.
In the early 1990’s from Vietnam, when she was just 17, Amy sneaked in the paperwork to apply to move to America. She had been told that her father was in the US Navy and she wanted to make the journey to America for a new and better life and to someday meet her father. She was approved (without her mother even knowing) and arrived in New York City. There she was became part of a sponsorship program to assist Vietnamese immigrants acclimate to the US. The program was three months where attendees were housed, fed and went to school each day. They learned to speak English, to eat American food, were schooled in American customs…like how to dress (socks required-more on that shortly), and the best ways to engage in conversation. A big part of the process included studying American history and civics so that after 5 years of living here, the US Citizenship test could be taken. Amy took that and passed with flying colors, only missed one of 100 questions!
Back to socks…Amy shares a story about how after getting the basics mastered, the foreign students were trained at a large hotel in NYC where the importance of work skills, following schedules, interacting with people, and participating in a real world example of American culture on display. And socks were required.
Each day before they left the housing facility, Amy said students had to lift their pant legs so that the instructor could see their socks. Amy hated socks! And being the resourceful lady that she is, quickly figured out she could cut the ‘foot’ of the sock out and just leave the ‘leg’ of the sock intact so she could pass the ‘sock inspection’ and go to work.
After completing the training successfully, Amy and her classmates were to draw from a bowl, the name of which state they would be going to in order to begin the rest of their journey in the US. Amy picked North Carolina. She was told there were lots of trees here and that there were four seasons and she was pleased with her choice.
Fast forward to present day, although her children are her family, she describes her clientele in Caswell as her real family. Having gone through good times and bad, both have been there for each other. She has raised two strong young adults, put them through college, built a thriving business, has a roster of friends many of us would envy and a strong client following. Quite an accomplishment and an admirable self-made lady.
From cutting toenails at no charge for senior citizens, to listening to clients share their woes, coaching young mothers, being a shoulder to cry on when things turned bad and celebrating with true joy when it’s warranted, Amy and her team have been there for Caswell. She even shared with me a quick story about doing nails on credit for a lady while I was in getting my nails done the last time... I remember thinking, wow. That would NEVER happen in a big city would it?
Well that is just the way things are done at Top Nails. As I have visited there (and really wish I could right now as I really need a manicure) I’d run into other folks from the community; former high school classmates, businessowners (and often spouses that stop in to say hello too) and even met cousins of others I knew in Caswell but had not connected the dots with prior. My first time there I realized this was like no other nail salon I’d been in. They were laughing and chatting across the salon, engaging with everyone and just plan out having fun. At first, I was a little hesitant to join in the fun as I was used to quiet and soothing nail places bringing in a stack of work to do while I was getting my nails done. But not here. By the time my nails were done, I understood it all and realized why ‘buying local’ makes such a difference. On that first visit Amy told me she had just recently met her father that she had been hopeful to meet since coming to America. He was in Georgia now; a retired US Navy officer and she was so pleased and emotional having met him in person and very proud of his accomplishments.
These days it is sad to run into Food Lion and not be able to poke my head into the Top Nails shop just to say hello, but this too shall pass. The Chamber is keeping faith with Amy and her family, that we will be able to connect again as soon as we are anxious to get back to businesses (and camaraderie) in Caswell.
Top Nails is a new Caswell Chamber Member. The Caswell County Chamber of Commerce is working with The Caswell Messenger to share stories of our businesses during this time. Your support in buying local is vital to keep our businesses community intact and contributes to the tax base of our county that provides other services our community needs. We thank you for your support.
As featured in The Caswell Messenger April 22, 2020
Written by AC Hodges