WV Observer: Local Salon & Spa Owner to Open Vietnamese Restaurant
BIZ BRIEFS WV OBSERVER
By Michael Chalmers
Local Salon & Spa Owner to Open Vietnamese Restaurant
Vi Vo Nguyen owns and operates one of the premier salon and day spas in Jefferson County. VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa, Inc., situated conveniently at 1315 W. Washington Street, in Harpers Ferry, offers a huge selection of full-service options, where attention to detail is second-to-none. And when you get to know Vi Vo, you realize pretty quickly why her business continues to grow, and why she plans to ride that success into Ranson with her next venture—a beautifully designed and fully considered Vietnamese restaurant.
But first, the salon/spa, which isn’t just an impeccably clean symbol of dedication and customer service; it’s a story about history, determination, and success as an only option. Vi Vo came to America fourteen years ago from Vietnam with one goal in mind: to overcome the hardships of her life back home, and find a way to immediately support her parents and siblings still there. After two years at NOVA Community College to learn the language and some basics, she quickly found work doing shampoo in a hair salon in Alexandria, Va.
“I never thought I’d become a hairdresser,” she remembers. “I was always more of a tomboy, and intended on going to college and becoming an accountant or a teacher.”
But her goal to support her family held precedence, and after three months at the salon, she not only fell in love with the profession, but she knew that she would only be happy, and her family would be much better off, if she owned a business.
The dream started to take shape in 2002, when her husband, Khuong—who worked in the construction/building industry—received a promotion to become the superintendent of a newly planned neighborhood in Charles Town, West Virginia—Huntfield.
“I commuted back to D.C. for a while, but it was tough,” she says—knowing that she could probably open up a business locally and fulfill her goals to not only support her family back in Vietnam, but create a full-service salon/spa business that really had no equal in its offerings. Eventually she and Khuong discovered a perfect location in Harpers Ferry. He did an amazing rehab job on the structure and Vi Vo’s dream was born.
VIVO gradually evolved into a full-service spa/salon in the truest sense (scalp massages with your haircut, anyone? Check out the full selection at www.vivodayspa.com)—to the extent that they even offered lunch or dinner in their packages. This led to an idea that they might make the food in-house and sort of merge two businesses (both Vi Vo and Khuong have food service backgrounds in Vietnam). However, it became apparent that this idea might be better realized in an actual restaurant. So Khuong suggested as much for the next phase of VIVO.
“He said, why don’t we open a restaurant? Our boys are getting older and they can learn the work, and it can be for them to learn about business and responsibility,” she recalls. “Khuong will be running the restaurant; it will be his baby in the way that the salon is mine.”
Jefferson County should take note—Khuong is currently rehabbing a property in downtown Ranson that will soon be the home of VIVO Restaurant & Bar (set to open in 2015). Once again, every detail has been considered, and Vi Vo’s homemade Vietnamese recipes will no doubt have locals talking about her food in the same way they do about her salon/spa.
“Our goal at the salon is to make you feel pampered and look fabulous,” she says. “Our goal at the restaurant will be to offer delicious, healthy Vietnamese cuisine that people know and like, combined with amazing service in a beautiful place.”
Vi Vo Nguyen knows a little something about goals. She’s been achieving them since she arrived in America over a decade ago. It should come as no surprise that she’s about to break new ground and offer another exclusive service in Jefferson County.
The State Journal: 2014 class of Generation Next: 40 Under 40
The State Journal’s 2014 class of Generation Next: 40 Under 40
Posted: Mar 05, 2014 3:31 PM ESTUpdated: Mar 07, 2014 4:21 PM EST
It seems as though West Virginia is full of tales about the “brain drain,” or the lack of a talented, qualified workforce. Here at The State Journal we believe in promoting the good stories we know are quietly being told throughout our hills and valleys every day.
This week, The State Journal highlights its ninth class of Generation Next: 40 Under 40, an annual award designed to shout from the mountains those stories of the incredible things professionals younger than 40 are doing throughout West Virginia.
This year’s honorees are native and adoptive West Virginians. They show leadership in various ways every day. They have created their own companies, helped other companies grow and have assisted community organizations flourish and change lives. The members of the class of 2014 have made commitments to West Virginia and the communities they call home.
“This year’s class of Generation Next winners shows us the true Mountaineer spirit,” said Ann Ali, managing editor of The State Journal. “These are the people who wake up early and stay late, but still find the time to volunteer and give back.”
This year’s class includes car dealers, marketing directors and entrepreneurs. Some of them work for large corporations while others work for family-owned businesses, but they all have a dedication to the state, its citizens and local communities.
As West Virginia takes on new challenges, the state will turn more and more to Generation Next — West Virginians who have demonstrated their commitment to building a better state.
The State Journal could not produce Generation Next: 40 Under 40 without the gracious support of its sponsors — Custom Business Solutions, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and Huntington Bank.
By being sponsors, Custom Business Solutions, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and Huntington Bank are helping to highlight and congratulate West Virginia’s young leaders who strive every day to make a difference in the state. The three sponsors see the huge role that members of this year’s class of Generation Next: 40 Under 40 play now, and they know this year’s honorees will be movers and shakers in the state for years to come.
“We are so thankful to Custom Business Solutions, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and Huntington Bank for agreeing to be this year’s sponsors for Generation Next: 40 Under 40,” said Sean Banks, sales manager for The State Journal and WOWK-TV. “Through their commitment to the program, all three sponsors are giving back in their own way to the members of this year’s class who have dedicated their careers so far to helping the state, their communities and the businesses where they work.”
The Spirit of Jefferson: In plain English
From: The Spirit of Jefferson, January 22, 2013
By Robert Snyder Spirit Staff
HARPERS FERRY – Vi Vo Nguyen wants to give West Virginia’s cosmetology rules a makeover.
Nguyen, owner of VIVO Hair Salon and Day Spa at 1315 W. Washington St. in Harpers Ferry, says the Mountain State’s outdated regulations are making it difficult for her and other business owners to find and keep employees.
By adopting the same licensing structure already in place in Virginia, Maryland and many other states, West Virginia could retain qualified workers instead of seeing them seek jobs outside its borders and also help her and other hard-working entrepreneurs grow their businesses, Nguyen said.
To make the needed changes happen, Nguyen is going to straight to the top: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
“Here I am, begging you for your help, your support and your attention,” Nguyen said in a letter to the governor mailed last month.
She has been down this path before.
In 2011, Tomblin came to her business to sign Shampoo Apprenticeship Bill No. 2368, which allowed salons and similar businesses to hire workers who complete a short course in health and sanitary practices as salon shampooers rather than being required to hire graduates of beauty or barber schools.
Vi Vo Nguyen opened VIVO Hair Salon and Day Spa in Harpers Ferry six years ago.
By hiring shampooers to handle that task, higher-paid stylists are freed up to concentrate on work that requires greater expertise, the cutting and styling of hair, said Nguyen, who grew up in Vietnam.
Nguyen said she’s grateful to Tomblin, Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson, since-retired lawmaker John Doyle and others for getting the shampoo bill passed.
But while that change has helped, Nguyen says the state ought to further update the way it handles rules for would-be salon workers.
Nguyen, for instance, wants to hire her 60-year-old mother to work alongside her as a nail technician. Her mom grew up in Vietnam and knows English well enough and has a plethora of practical experience under her belt, but because of the language barrier has been unable to pass the state’s required written cosmetology test.
Other states offer the test in Vietnamese, Spanish and other languages, Nguyen said, but not West Virginia. In her latest testing try, Duoc Thi Nguyen had assistance from a tester who read her the questions.
The tester wasn’t allowed to answer any of Duoc Thi’s questions or act as a translator, Nguyen said, and she blames those restrictions for her mother’s poor grade.
Now her mother is searching for a job in her field outside West Virginia. “English is not her first language, and by simply ensuring she understood the English questions presented to her would have enabled her to successfully pass the test,” Nguyen wrote in her letter to Tomblin. “This seems to be a clear-cut case of language discrimination.”
West Virginia offers testing accommodations for residents who are blind, suffer from dyslexia or have other challenges, Nguyen said, so why not take similar steps for someone whose first language isn’t English?
She also wants the state to allow apprenticeships rather than requiring cosmetologists to go to beauty or barber schools, which often cost so much that students look for a career that’s less expensive to get started in.
It’s an approach already working well in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and elsewhere, she said.
Nguyen also questions the current practice in which all cosmetologist candidates must come to Charleston to take the licensing test. For those who live in the Eastern Panhandle, making a six-hour drive one way to take a test is both daunting and time-consuming.
She suggests conducting the tests in multiple locations around the state multiple times throughout the year or even online.
Another way for West Virginia to help businesses like hers, Nguyen said, would be to extend the length of time a cosmetology license lasts. “In our neighoring states and many other states, you get a three-year license instead of West Virginia’s license, which is good for only one year,” she said.
“By making it more appealing to be a cosmetologist in the state of West Virginia, we can utilize the talent residing in the state – and bring back some of the talent that has left our state to work I more beautician-friendly environments,” Nguyen told Tomblin.
– Natalie Green contributed to this report
The Journal: Gov. Signs Apprenticeship Bill at VIVO Day Salon
June 30, 2011
By Matt Armstrong – Journal Staff Writer (email@example.com) , journal-news.net KEARNEYSVILLE –
When Vi Nguyen came to this country from Vietnam a little more than 10 years ago, she never thought she would meet meet a state governor, let alone play a part in passing legislation affecting West Virginia’s beauty industry. That’s what happened, however, when acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin came to Nguyen’s ViVo Hair Salon and Day Spa in Kearneysville to sign House Bill 2368, the West Virginia shampoo apprenticeship bill, on Wednesday afternoon. “This is a lifetime experience. … I work very hard and my passion is very much in this industry,” Nguyen said. “It has been a wonderful experience and I feel very, very blessed that the governor and the government approved this bill.” What the bill does is allow salons and similar businesses to hire shampooers who have taken a short training course in the state’s health and sanitary practices regarding washing hair. Salons previously were only allowed to hire graduates of beauty or barber schools as shampooers, Nguyen said. She added that because she will be able to hire shampooers, it will free up time for stylists and allow them to focus on cutting and styling hair. Nguyen, who started her career in the beauty industry in Virginia, said she knows many stylists who avoid West Virginia because they have to spend so much time shampooing here as opposed to states that don’t require a beauty school diploma to do shampoo. This legislation should help make West Virginia a more attractive working environment for stylists, she added. While Nguyen had the idea for the legislation, she credited Delegates John Doyle and Tiffany Lawrence, both D-Jefferson, with helping to make the bill a law. The bill had actually been in the works since Lawrence’s first term in the Legislature in 2009, Lawrence said. Doyle and Lawrence worked with Delegate Jim Morgan, D-Cabell, who had a similar bill before the House of Delegates pertaining to barbers. The bill was able to pass this year because of several factors, including weakened lobbying power of barber and beauty colleges in the state, Doyle said. “Vi Nguyen came to me with the idea and when she explained our rules, I thought ‘This is really silly’. … In order to wash someone’s hair you don’t need to know how to cut it, all you need to do is obey the health rules,” Doyle said. “We discovered that the reason for the rules being the way they were was featherbedding on the part of barber and beauty colleges. … They insisted that you had to have a degree.” “We’ve had so many constituents complain about this issue over the years. … It’s been a long time coming for this bill,” Lawrence added. “A lot of people who are taking these apprenticeships are looking for part-time work as well, supplemental income. … It’s going to create a lot of jobs.” Now that Nguyen can hire more workers, she said she plans to move her business to Harpers Ferry in the fall in order to expand and serve more clients. Additional information on ViVo Hair Salon and Day Spa is available online at www.vivodayspa.com, or by calling 304-728-0880. – Staff writer Matt Armstrong can be reached at 304-725-6581, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Journal: Salon plans Haiti benefit
From: The Journal, February 22, 2010
By Edward Marshall / Journal Staff Writer
This story was also covered by Lite 97.5 and WELM 1340AM KEARNEYSVILLE – For Jefferson County salon owner Vi Nguyen, seeing images of the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the small island nation of Haiti last month literally brought tears to her eyes. With news of death toll estimates from the Jan. 12 quake exceeding more than 200,000 and reports of hundreds of thousands more left homeless or injured, Nguyen decided she wanted to try to do something to try to help. As the owner of VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa in Kearneysville, she hopes to prove that it only takes a handful of people to make a difference. This Tuesday the salon, its staff and volunteers will host a special “Help Haiti” fundraiser in a bid to assist relief efforts following the devastating earthquake. Proceeds from all services at the salon Tuesday will be donated to the American Red Cross, along with 25 percent of all proceeds from products purchased at the day spa during the fundraiser. “We can never do enough for Haiti,” Nguyen said. “We just really hope that we can raise a lot of donations, and we just hope that everybody comes and shows their support. This is a great cause.” The fundraising event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. in the salon at 43 Ruland Road, Kearneysville, which is next to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles Office and King’s Pizza. Raffle tickets will be sold for $2 each to help raise additional funds. Prizes include a $50 gift certificate to the salon and a $50 gift certificate for products sold at the local business. Free food and drinks will be served. Nguyen said Kings Pizza will donate food for the event. No appointments are necessary on the day of the fundraiser, and children are welcome. Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Nguyen said available services will include haircuts, manicures, spa manicures, pedicures, waxing, etc. Nguyen, her staff and volunteers will donate their time Tuesday, a day when the salon is normally closed. Nguyen, who moved to the United States 10 years ago from Vietnam, said the images from the Haitian earthquake brought back memories of devastation wrought from natural disasters in her native country – and that’s part of the reason she decided to try to help. “Seeing children with no schools, people that don’t have houses to live in, no food, nothing to drink – it just brings me back to (Vietnam), because natural disasters are things that happen a lot in my country,” Nguyen said. Nguyen opened the VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa nearly three years ago and has four full-time staff members. “They are so excited about it, and everyone is so emotional about the whole thing,” Nguyen said, referring to her staff as well as the volunteers who will help out on Tuesday. “They are saying, ‘We are going to do something that will really help all these people in Haiti.'” She said on her own she can’t do much, but she hopes that with the community’s help, the fundraiser will make at least a small impact on someone’s life in Haiti. “It does make me feel great to be able to do just a little bit of something for them,” she said. “Whatever we can do, we want to do that. Every little thing helps I think.”
The Journal: Pedicures: More than pampering your feet
From: The Journal, April 27, 2009
By Angela Cummings Special to the Journal KEARNEYSVILLE -
Old man winter can take a toll on your skin, often leaving it dry, flaky and itchy. It’s easy to forget about body parts that aren’t use to seeing the light of day during cold weather, but once barefoot season gets here you might be surprised at what you see when you look down. You may not have realized your toenails were that long or your heels were that rough. This may not only cause concern for esthetic reasons, but it’s not healthy to dismiss your feel when considering overall personal hygiene. “When you go so long without cleaning your feet, you get fungus and bacteria,” says Vi Nguyen, owner and operator of VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa in Kearneysville. Once viewed as a seasonal luxury, pedicures are quickly becoming routine maintenance for women and men. Leslie Kelly of Charles Town says she regularly gets pedicures. “This time of year I try to get one every other month, then one around the holidays.” “(The nail technician) keeps the calluses down and it’s relaxing to be pampered a little bit,” says Kelly. Nguyen says that pedicures can be anything from a very basic cleansing, massage and nail trim to deluxe spa treatment with foot mask and paraffin clip. Any treatment can be specialized to meet each individual’s needs. Dr. Richard Rauch, a podiatrist at City Hospital, says that if anyone is a diabetic or vascularly compromised, he or she should been seen by a podiatrist. If someone is perfectly healthy but has extremely thick toenails – which may be caused by a fungus – or calluses and corns, he or she should still seek treatment from a podiatrist. “A fungus is an active infection and needs to be treated accordingly,” says Rauch. Some foot problems, like bunions, may tell a podiatrist that there is an underly ing bone deformity and/or something that needs medical attention, he adds. Diabeteshealth.com recommends that health compromised clientele — such as those with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease affecting the legs and feet — discuss pedicure options with their doctor and customize an appropriate procedure to guide your nail technician. And always let your techni cian know if you are diabetic. All sources agree that no one other than a podiatrist should ever cut the toenails, calluses or attempt to excise corns from the feet of a diabetic or anyone vascularly compromised. Rauch extends this recommendation to all elderly persons as well. “If you can’t see or reach your feet that well, see a podi atrist.” says Rauch. Another subject all sources agree on is to make sure you check the cleanliness of any establishment before getting a pedicure. All salons must be properly licensed and are inspected by the state. For example, Nguyen says they clean each spa tub after every client, using bleach and sanitabs. They are also soaked at the end of each day. All utensils are cleaned and sterilized in a UV sterilizer after each client; however, Nguyen suggests clients purchase and bring their own nail kits for extra protection from bacteria or cross-contamination. “You don’t have to purchase a kit, but we recommend it.” she says. Kit are around $35 and include a nail file, cuticle trimmer, cuticle pusher/nipper and buffer. Nguyen says they will even UV sterilize your personal kit for you, then you can take it home and bring it back with you the next time. Rauch cautions that women who like to have painted nails during sandal season should only wear polish for four to live days at a time. “Even though they’re hard, nails are living tissue and they need to have some air.” he says. For a safer and less invasive pedicure, you can always opt for the leg and foot cleansing, massage and warm towels to stimulate blood in the feet and hands. There aren’t many things that feel as wonderful as a good foot massage. “When my feet feel good, I feel good all over.” Nguyen says.
CHI: Upscale in West Virginia: VIVO Day Spa
From: CHI, Vol. V, Issue 19
LIVING IN THE EASTERN panhandle of West Virginia are commuters working in Washington, D.C., who used to have to stay in the District if they wanted the latest hair and spa services. In 2007, Vi Nguyen offered them a change from that routine when she launched VIVO Salon and Day Spa right in their neck of the woods, in Kearneysville. Energetic and eager to be on her own, Nguyen put together her business only seven years after moving to the United States from Vietnam and six years after becoming a hairdresser. Her youth and relative inexperience didn’t worry her because she had a clear vision for her business. Health and Beauty “My salon is all about sexy, shiny hair, and a healthy environment,” Nguyen explains. “I think everyone should live a green, healthy life and avoid strong chemicals.” It was her own allergies that motivated Nguyen to search for ammonia-free products to use on her clients, and she knew when she had her own salon she would use naturally formulated products. She discovered CHI at a hair show. “I’m allergic to a lot of perfumes, but I have no problem with CHI perfume,” Nguyen says. When tolerance to the perfume led her to try CHI hair color and other Farouk hair products, like BioSilk, she was thrilled with the results. Today she says that more than 90 percent of the products she uses and carries are from the Farouk line. “I always said, ‘One day when I have my own salon, this will be the product line I use,’” Nguyen notes. “I highly recommend Farouk products to everyone—hairdressers and clients at home and at the salon. Try it and you’ll love it!” Wanting to help her clients to achieve full-body health, Nguyen designed her business to include spa services, offering spa manipedis, facials, body massage and eyelash extensions. On staff is a nail tech, massage therapist and receptionist. Although she hopes to hire another stylist. Nguyen currently does all the hair herself. She is particular about who she will hire to work in her ammonia-free salon, which is unique to her area. She has the highest standards for her salon, including excellent customer service and a commitment to use safe and high-quality products. Yearning to Learn Another thing Nguyen has in common with Farouk is her devotion to education. Nguyen has taken up Farouk on an offer for free in-salon training, welcoming an educator into her salon three times. In addition, she travels to shows where she can see the company’s artists demonstrate the latest styles and products. She also helps fund similar trips for her staff and most recently she had the honor of attending Farouk Systems’ International Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Nguyen’s favorite moments at VIVO Salon are watching the smile on each client’s face as the service is completed. “I can always tell if a client isn’t quite satisfied,” she says, and in that case she sits the client back down. “I never, ever let a client leave without a happy face. Never!” Still, her work is only part of her life. “I have a great family,” Nguyen says. “I’m raising two handsome boys and have full support from my husband. I put a lot of effort into my salon, and I’m confident it will pay off.”
The Journal: VIVO Day Spa
From: The Journal, July 2007
The attention to detail is evident when first entering the VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa inc. Clients are welcomed by owner Vi Nguyen and her very friendly staff into an inviting space with a contemporary design of green and white accents, which brings to mind a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Soothing music plays in the background which helps clients relax and prepare to be pampered by a staff with one goal – to make clients feel fabulous. Vi Nguyen is a familiar face in the community and has worked at other salons in Northern Virginia and locally. She envisioned a salon offering very unique services and was determined to provide residents with an alternative to traveling out of the area for services such as eyelash extensions and Japanese hair straightening in addition to unparalleled hair contouring, coloring, and texturing to gemstone facials, exclusive spa manicures, pedicures, massages and body waxing. “My promise to every client is that everyone leaves with a huge smile,” Vi said. VIVO’s philosophy of healthy attractive hair care is achieved by utilizing the product line of CHI. “This is one of the best hair care products I have ever worked with, it’s ammonia free, it just feels and smells so, so beautiful, all my clients love it,” Vi said. VIVO Salon & Spa has six hairdressing stations, a privacy room for facial, waxing and massage two sets of manicure and pedicure stations and three shampoo sinks with ergonomic design for the client’s best comfort. “We’re looking forward to expanding our spa in the future and we want to make this place a one-stop-shop to everybody,” Vi said. VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa employs three cosmetologists, on nail technician and on receptionist. “I’m very proud of my girls, they are great,” Vi said. To introduce clients to VIVO they are currently offering 15 percent off for first time clients on hair coloring, eyelash extension and Japanese hair straightening and 15 percent off for back-to-school student on all services by presenting this article at the time of appointment, offer expires Oct. 7, 2007. The spa also offers 10 percent off for parties of five or more and will do themes from princess parties for young girls ages 6 to 12, bachelor and bachelorette parties and girls night out. We can serve up to 12 clients at a time. VIVO Salon is open seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday by appointment only. The shop is conveniently located in Kearneysville on W.Va 9, next to the DMV. VIVO is looking for experienced hair stylists with a clientele starting with great commission plus benefits and flexible schedule. “I want to thank all my loyal customers who have supported me over the years, without them I would not have been able to open my own salon and greatly welcome new clients to our brand new hair salon and day spa. We strive to treat everybody the way we want to be treated. We don’t just serve you, we pamper you. It’s our promise to everybody,” Vi said. To contact VIVO Hair Salon & Day Spa Inc. please call (304) 535-1110 or email email@example.com.