Nail Bar Boys

Nail Bar Boys salon on Oxford Road confronts stereotypes surrounding industry dominated by women

  • Salon features in popular BBC north west TV show 
  • Brothers say show focussing on L1 breaks stereotypes surrounding nail technicians

A new nail salon on Oxford Road which opened recently certainly looks ordinary enough from the outside

But most people will be unaware that the salon is part of a new TV show on BBC One north-west

The salon is part of a franchise in Manchester and Liverpool and the owners and staff are part of a new TV show called Nail Bar Boys which explores what it’s like to be a man in a female-dominated industry,

The show also explores their Vietnamese heritage and deals with the effects of gambling addiction.

The show is centred around Liverpool-based salon L1 Nails, the owner Tony and his staff: co-owner Dragon, manager Brandon, nail technician Bruno and junior nail technicians Astro and Kenny. 

NQ spoke to both Liverpool and Oxford Road salons to interview the men and gain an insight into how the show came about.

The show has been in the pipeline for numerous years with LA factual, a Liverpool-based production company, they told us. 

The director and producer of the series, Christian  Francis-Davies, heard about the boys and their personalities and paid them a visit to which they hit it off and the premise of the show was created.  

The show very nearly didn’t air because of Covid-19 taking its toll on the business. L1 was on the brink of closure but the salon was saved and the show has proven to be very popular.

In the past, the role of a nail technician has traditionally been a woman’s job with stereotypes suggesting that the role has always been too feminine for men and should be left to a woman. 

But the six men have set out to prove such stereotypes wrong with each member of staff proud of the work they do. 

We spoke to owner Tony, who works at the Oxford Road location, alongside nail technician Bruno who said he did not care what other people think and was happy to challenge stereotypes

“It’s about inspiring the future generation,” said Tony. 

Dragon Said ” We feel we revolutionized the way a salon can be run by just completely being ourselves. “

At the L1 nail salon, it is easy to see why the store was chosen as the main focal business for the show. By opening time the salon is very busy with each work station occupied and each customer cared for.

Some loyal customers also feature in the show, such as Astro’s Client Amina who brings up the topic of heritage with Kenny in the first episode.

All six men who feature in the show have Vietnamese heritage. Brothers Astro and Kenny were born in England but were previously embarrassed about their Asian heritage and communicating with their single mother who was born and raised in Vietnam.

The brothers have admitted to not allowing their mother to come to parents’ evenings and speaking in front of their friends for the brothers to fit into western culture, but since filming has ended they are both now finding more ways to embrace their heritage and communicate more in their mother’s native tongue.

We spoke to Astro about exploring his heritage and what it means to him now. 

He said: “I have delved into learning more about my heritage and speaking the language. 

“I speak to the rest of the boys more in Vietnamese and I’m always asking about where we are from and the differences.

“Through them, I’m able to communicate more with my mum and it’s brought us more close with our mum.”

One widely discussed topic in each episode is the importance of overcoming gambling addiction.

Each of the six men has dealt with gambling addiction in the past that has both affected their work life and personal life. 

Gambling addiction is very common with over 8,320 betting shops open in the UK since 2019

The discussion of addiction on the show aims to let viewers know that it’s okay to find support for the addiction and that there is a way out of the constant cycle. 

Dragon summed up how damaging gambling addiction can be to a person. 

“Gambling addiction is like a powerful disease that you can’t see with. One day someone can look happy and the next day it can destroy not only their life but their family’s life as well,” he said.

Bruno is the latest in the shop who has dealt with addiction and has successfully been six months clean. 

You can catch all three episodes on BBC Iplayer.