Appalachian Nails: a new place for hand care in the High Country

Emily Broyles, Editor-in-Chief

Lily Nguyen and her family decided to open a nail salon when students came back from winter break. The first couple of weeks, no one came. By the middle of the month, social media posts, online reviews and gossip in between classes had welcomed the Boston natives and their work to the mountain.  

“I just want to say thank you so much for all the support and love that we’ve been 

getting,” said Lily Nguyen, co-owner of Appalachian Nails. “We’re really, really excited to be here and meet everyone and do everyone’s nails. And we’re really excited to show them the right way to be treated at a nail salon.”

Lily Nguyen opened the salon with her sister and mother in early January at 324 NC-105 Extension Suite 6. The salon offers manicures, pedicures, waxings, and additional services, such as kids’ prices and color changes, according to its website. 

“We have worked at other nail salons, and we kind of just thought, ‘Well, we all do nails — me, my mom and sister — why not just open one?’” Lily Nguyen said.

The daughters-and-mother trio first moved to Charlotte, but saw Boone as “somewhere more chill and calm” to raise their big family. 

“Doing nails here is way different than Boston because we get a lot of business city people there, and more of a local vibe here with our customers,” co-owner Lisa Nguyen said in a statement. “People are much friendlier here.”

After working at salons in the city and in the local area, the Nguyen sisters said they saw certain things at other salons, such as treatment of customers and prices, that rubbed them the wrong way. Lily Nguyen said pricing at Appalachian Nails is different than other salons.

Courtesy of Appalachian Nails
Appalachian Nails is located on the NC Highway 105 Extension and hopes to bring more options for nail care to Boone. Pictured is the inside of its salon.

“Our prices are pretty low already compared to other places, it’s very affordable,” Lily Nuguyen said.“It’s just based on how much work we have to put in. I don’t feel like we should be charging someone $40, $50, especially students, or anyone. It’s pretty expensive.”

The salon offers a full set of acrylic nails for $27. The average price for a set of acrylics in the United States is $46.01 according to Statistica.com.

Appalachian Nails offers a 10% discount to students, active members or veterans of the military and teachers. Lily Nugyen said the Boone community inspired the three to add teachers to the discount, as many educators have come in to get their nails done. 

Kate Williams, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, wrote in an email that while she was interested in the student discount, she was met with confusion on pricing at the salon.

“Their prices are not readily displayed when you walk in, so what I thought would be a $25 manicure ended up being closer to $35 (including tip and with the student discount),” Williams wrote.

Lisa Nguyen said the salon made a change in their student discount this month, and it was 15% in January for the salon’s opening.

Marley Moore, a sophomore nutrition and public health major, said she has paid as much as $60 for a set of acrylic or SNS nails she calls “her favorite accessory.” She said at Appalachian Nails, she can express her personality through her “fun” nails without “breaking the bank.”

“I’ll go in there and be like, ‘Oh, yeah I want to do a different color on every nail’ and they don’t dread it. They’ll help me pick out my color and do an amazing job,” Moore said. 

Williams said when getting her nails fixed from a prior fluke from the salon, she felt rushed by the technicians. She said she left the salon with dust on her hands she had to wash off at home. 

Junior psychology major Audrey Hudson said she was turned away and asked to make an appointment, though the salon labels itselfs as “walk-in.”

“We are a walk-in salon, but we do prefer appointments just because right now we’re pretty booked, and we want to take our time. We always book for an hour,” Lily Nguyen said. “We take pride in our work. We don’t want to just rush you in and out. It’s more of just quality over quantity, that’s very important to us.”

Lily Nguyen said while she understands the salon’s growth can be an inconvenience to some, the women are trying their best, especially as first-time business owners.

“We would like to hire more technicians because of the traffic that we’re getting. We want to be able to help everyone, we really do. But it’s just me, my mom and my sister and another technician, but she’s part-time,” Lily Nguyen said.

Lisa Nguyen said she has been doing nails “her whole life.” She has been a nail technician for 10 years, her sister Lily for 15 years and their mother Kim for 25 years. 

“We pour our heart and soul into every client we do here, and we all work about 70-80 hours a week from opening to closing to prepping the salon,” Lisa Nguyen said.

The sisters said that while they’re “making it happen” as a trio, on the technical side, their favorite thing about the business is meeting new people and seeing returning clients. 

“Lily is like my therapist. I go in and we talk about all sorts of stuff, and it’s such a relaxing hour out of my week, and I really look forward to it,” Moore said. “We’re always texting, sending messages. They’re always like, ‘We love you, we miss you, please come in and just hang out whenever you want.’”

The sisters said they want their customers to feel at home when they come in, just as the Nguyen family has learned through their business journey in Boone.

“We live together, and then we come to work, and we are together just all the time. There is definitely (a) fight here and there, but at the end of the day we know we’re all family,” Lily Nguyen said.