G-nails & Spa is the place to go for more than a gorgeous fresh set
By ANGIE CUMMINGS — [email protected]
Sometimes choosing a salon to get your nails done can be as simple as crossing the street and walking in, but there are times when it seems as difficult and complex as finding a life partner. There are so many things that go into the decision to commit to a new salon; you have to consider prices, reviews, atmosphere and much more. Luckily for those of you who haven’t yet found a nail salon to return to for the rest of your time at UC Davis, I’ve done my due diligence and investigative journalism to confirm that G-nails & Spa offers Davis’ most satisfying and even rewarding manicure experience.
Run by husband and wife duo, Kiet Le and Tina Tieu, G-nails sits comfortably on 2nd Street, close to the myriad restaurants in the heart of downtown (in case one gets peckish after visiting the show). Upon first entering the storefront, G-nails appears to be set up like any other nail salon, with its rows of spa chairs, cozy waiting area, and minimalist but comfortable decor. However, once you’re seated for your appointment, you might notice the lack of overhead lighting (which is replaced by warm-lit pendant lights) and unique photographs on the walls of this spa.
“Photos [in G-nails] jazz it up instead of just a picture of nails or a foot with a flower,” Le said of her choice of decoration, compared to the standard types of ornamentation in nail salons.
Although I may not be an expert in quality photography, it’s clear that the photos Le has chosen are of a high standard and have an artistry that you simply can’t get from stock photos. archives or sets in a department store. When I had my first date with Le last year, I asked where he got all those photos and learned that each one was taken by him. That’s when I knew I needed to know more about her story and that of this salon.
“I’m not a nail artist, I’m a photographer,” Le said near the start of our interview.
Le attended the San Francisco Art Institute for Photography and has been featured in numerous exhibitions and galleries throughout the Bay Area. To this day, he works as a professional photographer when not providing excellent service at the nail salon.
“[I used to do] travel photography, but after her [his wife, Tina] opened here, I helped her and we had more and more clients asking me,” Le said of his transition from traveling six days a week to a lead role in managing G-nails. . If he admits that photography is still his first passion, “nails are also art”. […] if you don’t have an artist’s eye, you can’t paint a pretty nail or a design,” Le said, effortlessly applying the gel polish to my right hand.
When asked if he had one of his favorite photos on the walls, Le was quick to say, “They’re like your kids, you know, they’re all equally loved. […] each of them has its own history and its own memories.
Le’s deep connection to these photos is quickly revealed as he discusses the stories behind them.
“I go home to visit my family in Vietnam and sometimes in Thailand […] to document the places I have been before as a refugee […] to bring back the memories of the old days,” Le said. “Much of my work is historical. I know that Vietnam is a developing country so it changes a lot […] even my own house, I cannot recognize it.
The story behind these beautiful photos adds to their artistic value – with each framed photo on the wall, Le is able to give a deeper insight into the country and culture in which he grew up. From stories of how plants are transported on motorbikes to a look into the covered markets where he remembers his mother working, Le provides more than just manicure services.
“It’s something you can watch and learn about another culture,” Le said.
Le is not only proud of his passion for photography, but also of the quality of experience and service at G-nail.
“We have a lot of local regulars […] but it gets crazy when [UCD students] come back. Clients only give you a hard time when you don’t do a good job – so we don’t get much,” Le said with a smile on his face.
By the end of my interview with Le, I had a flawless set of brown squoval gel nails and a new range of information and appreciation for the rich histories and cultures he shared with me.
“You had your nails done by a photographer today, so don’t complain, I’m not an expert,” Le joked and far too modestly.
Written by: Angie Cummings — [email protected]