If you ask a local where to get your nails done, they’ll probably reply “Nam’s Nails”. Nam Tsering is a local entrepreneur who has built a loyal following of clients in her near decade in Hell’s Kitchen. We caught up with Nam and daughters Pempa and Namgail as the family-run, woman-owned business celebrated its first weeks at a new 10th Avenue location.
Known for their welcoming, friendly team, detailed nail art and precise, efficient manicures and pedicures, Nam’s Nail Spa is a frequent competitor in W42ST Best of Awards — a place that West Siders declare as their must-have manicure experience. “This is my ONLY nail salon,” wrote reader Leanne Buckley. “They are so sweet and welcoming. The color selections are endless and the nail techs are great artists. Want a treat? Get a spa pedicure — they make you feel like royalty.” Added reader Anna Dickson, “The management is helpful and always offers water, candy and wine!”
Nam has been building that sense of community cultivation since she arrived in New York from Tibet nearly 20 years ago. New to New York and the United States, Nam found herself starting over while learning English. “When I came here, I couldn’t even buy coffee!” she said. Determined to learn and begin a new career while her children completed school in Tibet, she began babysitting and working part-time at Cozy Nail Salon in Brooklyn to learn the nail technician trade. “I was working five days a week for the family and two days a week at the salon,” Nam told us, adding, “Working there made me realize that I definitely wanted to open my own business.”
When her five-year babysitting contract was up, she was asked to stay on full-time but chose to move primarily to salon work. “I knew that I wanted a future in salons,” said Nam, who managed to balance working both jobs seven days a week until she opened her own shop in 2014. “I was 47, and working at Doma Nails on W47th. The owner left to open a bigger store and she gave me the space,” said Nam. Working in a small salon with just a few chairs, she grew a base clientele who returned time and time again for her precise work and friendly service. As her children graduated and moved to the States, they joined Nam to help open a second location on W46th, which they operated successfully until the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. “We paid rent the entire time, and we didn’t let go of any of our workers,” Nam said proudly. But the challenges of the pandemic were too much to maintain two locations, and she made the difficult decision to close the W47th Street outpost in hopes of maintaining her hard-won business.
Luckily, the bet more than paid off — and as her lease expired on W46th Street, Nam and daughters Pempa and Namgail were able to quickly secure an expanded new location on 10th Ave. “The landlord was so excited about us, he was ready to approve us after one Zoom meeting,” said Nam. After years of getting to know her Hell’s Kitchen clientele, she is happy to stay firmly planted on the West Side. “It’s such an interesting neighborhood,” she said, adding, “and my clients said, ‘Nam, don’t you go anywhere!’”
Now that they’ve settled into the new salon, Nam, Pempa and Namgail say the larger space keeps clients happy: “Which keeps me happy, too!” she laughed. “We are one team,” added Pempa. “We need each other.” Nam agreed, adding that her plan is to continue cultivating a place where clients and nail technicians feel at home. “When people come in and ask, ‘Who is the boss here?’ I tell them, ‘There is no boss! Everybody’s the boss! The person doing your manicure? She’s your boss now!’” she smiled, gesturing to the painting of the Dali Lama that hangs in the doorway. “We are one.”
Nam’s Nail Spa is located at 642 10th Ave (between W45/46th Street) and is open Monday-Saturday 10am to 8pm.