PORTSMOUTH – Sorassa Soeur sits in her magnificence salon, holding Coco Bean, a French bulldog, speaking about her 16 years in enterprise at 5 totally different places in Portsmouth.
Her success story began with spending the primary seven years of her life in a refugee camp, escaping together with her household, being hosted to return to America, excelling at school and onerous work, ethics instilled in her by her household. She is humble and says she discovered her ardour, making folks really feel nice about themselves.
“The title of the refugee camp in Thailand was known as Khao I Dang,” stated Soeur. “The camp opened in 1979 proper after the Vietnam Struggle (with Cambodia) ended. The camp is on the border of Cambodia. We escaped Cambodia and would journey in the course of the evening. There was one incident that nearly killed my entire household. I used to be simply an toddler and I let loose a cry. My dad needed to put his hand over my mouth the entire evening as we have been touring to cross the border. Had he not completed that everybody that was with us touring would have been discovered by the Khmer Rouge.”
Soeur’s recollections of the refugee camp are of residing in a cement constructing, with no home windows.
“I discovered to prepare dinner on the age of 5, to assist out,” she stated. “My mom Noun is an outstanding prepare dinner, and she or he and my father Mareth did the perfect they might for our household. My father had an training background, and he instilled in us the significance of training. Each mother and father taught us sturdy work ethics.”
Soeur stated she is primarily Cambodian, with lesser heritage of Chinese language, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, Malaysian, and smidges of African and European, based on a bloodline analysis they’d completed.
“Each of my mother and father have been born in Cambodia,” she stated. “I used to be born in Cambodia. The three siblings born after me have been born in Thailand and my final sibling was born in America, at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. There are 5 of us. I’m the oldest.”
Due to the wartime, Soeur stated they needed to hold their heritage a secret.
“The Vietnamese have been combating the Cambodians in the course of the Khmer Rouge (rule),” she stated. “They have been working the civilians to ship the rice to China. If they’d this data of our household we’d have most likely been killed straight away, as a result of we’re not full Cambodian.”
Soeur stated due to their cultural traditions, their household needed to wait to return to America. Her father, being the oldest in his household, needed to see his siblings and their households safely overseas earlier than he may go away together with his family.
Ultimately, the household discovered their option to America, hosted by the congregation of the First Parish Federated Church in South Berwick, Maine.
“Being a minority in a small city was just a little bit tough, however our household believed in working very onerous,” stated Soeur. “In class we caught out however that simply made us work more durable and made us wish to excel and to contribute to our communities. My brother is a component proprietor of Brgr Bar at Port Stroll. We moved to Portsmouth in 2001 and have been right here for 20 years. We’ve got seen a variety of adjustments in Portsmouth, and we really feel extremely lucky to name this metropolis our dwelling.”
Salon No.5 has been positioned within the MacKinnon’s Plaza for 3 years. Soeur opened her first salon, known as Salonista, on Mirona Street, when she was 25. Salons two, three and 4 have been at varied places on Deer and Fleet Streets. She started coaching below Portsmouth stylist Louis Terramarga earlier than opening her personal salons.
Soeur now runs a profitable enterprise, with 4 stylists, Lindy Ward, Mimi Lue, Ryan Jewell, and Rachel Starr Davis working alongside her.
“I achieved rather a lot at school and had to determine what I needed to do with my life, what I needed to wake each day and wish to do,” stated Soeur. “I’ve utterly discovered it. I like making folks be ok with themselves, in and out. I like coming to work each single day. I’m all the time studying about folks and making new connections.”
That doesn’t imply Soeur has not confronted discrimination.
“Some folks have preconceived notions about an Asian girl in enterprise,” she stated. “Some have requested if we do massages. I say no, we do hair. When the shootings in Atlanta occurred I acquired very nervous, questioning if I used to be going to see one thing like that come by means of our door. I don’t suppose so, however I give it some thought. We love our neighborhood, my brother and me. We’ve got had principally good experiences.”
On Sunday, Soeur hosts a church service on the salon.
“We serve breakfast, then watch a sermon,” she stated “It’s open to everybody. I began it in November of 2020. We watch Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, reside on YouTube. It’s known as a watch social gathering. The doorways open at 11 a.m.”