Sorassa Soeur at work at Salon No. 5 in Portsmouth.

PORTSMOUTH – Sorassa Soeur sits in her magnificence salon, keeping Coco Bean, a French bulldog, talking about her 16 a long time in organization at 5 different locations in Portsmouth.

Her results tale started out with investing the initial 7 years of her daily life in a refugee camp, escaping with her family, currently being hosted to occur to The us, excelling in faculty and tricky operate, ethics instilled in her by her family members. She is humble and says she located her passion, making people come to feel excellent about them selves.

“The title of the refugee camp in Thailand was referred to as Khao I Dang,” claimed Soeur. “The camp opened in 1979 proper soon after the Vietnam War (with Cambodia) finished. The camp is on the border of Cambodia. We escaped Cambodia and would travel through the evening. There was a person incident that almost killed my complete family. I was just an infant and I let out a cry. My father had to place his hand more than my mouth the whole evening as we were being traveling to cross the border. Had he not performed that everybody that was with us traveling would have been found by the Khmer Rouge.”

Soeur’s recollections of the refugee camp are of living in a cement making, with no windows.

Sorassa Soeur with Coco Bean.

“I realized to prepare dinner at the age of 5, to help out,” she said. “My mother Noun is a phenomenal prepare dinner, and she and my father Mareth did the very best they could for our relatives. My father experienced an education history, and he instilled in us the relevance of schooling. Equally parents taught us potent work ethics.”

Soeur explained she is primarily Cambodian, with lesser heritage of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, Malaysian, and smidges of African and European, in accordance to a bloodline exploration they had accomplished.

“Both of my moms and dads were being born in Cambodia,” she claimed. “I was born in Cambodia. The a few siblings born soon after me ended up born in Thailand and my very last sibling was born in The united states, at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. There are 5 of us. I’m the oldest.”

Portsmouth salon owner Sorassa Soeur is seen at left as a child with her father, Mareth Soeur. The baby is Soraksmey Soeur and at right is her brother Soreasey Soeur

Because of the wartime, Soeur reported they had to preserve their heritage a top secret.

“The Vietnamese ended up battling the Cambodians throughout the Khmer Rouge (rule),” she reported. “They had been doing the job the civilians to send out the rice to China. If they experienced this awareness of our household we would have possibly been killed suitable absent, for the reason that we’re not complete Cambodian.”

Soeur reported since of their cultural traditions, their household experienced to wait to arrive to The usa. Her father, currently being the oldest in his household, had to see his siblings and their families properly out of the nation prior to he could depart with his possess relatives.

Eventually, the family members discovered their way to The us, hosted by the congregation of the 1st Parish Federated Church in South Berwick, Maine.

Sorassa Soeur's family at the last reunion in South Berwick, Maine.

“Being a minority in a tiny city was a tiny little bit challenging, but our family members believed in operating quite really hard,” mentioned Soeur. “In university we trapped out but that just made us function more difficult and created us want to excel and to contribute to our communities. My brother is portion owner of Brgr Bar at Port Stroll. We moved to Portsmouth in 2001 and have been right here for 20 decades. We have seen a good deal of adjustments in Portsmouth, and we sense incredibly privileged to get in touch with this town our house.”

Salon No.5 has been located in the MacKinnon’s Plaza for 3 several years. Soeur opened her first salon, called Salonista, on Mirona Highway, when she was 25. Salons two, a few and four have been at various destinations on Deer and Fleet Streets. She commenced education underneath Portsmouth stylist Louis Terramarga in advance of opening her have salons.

Sorassa Soeur loves her work at Salon No. 5 in Portsmouth.

Soeur now operates a successful enterprise, with 4 stylists, Lindy Ward, Mimi Lue, Ryan Jewell, and Rachel Starr Davis operating alongside her.

“I achieved a ton in school and experienced to figure out what I preferred to do with my daily life, what I wished to wake each day and want to do,” explained Soeur. “I have entirely identified it. I like building men and women come to feel good about on their own, inside and out. I really like coming to get the job done every single working day. I am normally learning about persons and generating new connections.”

That does not indicate Soeur has not confronted discrimination.

On Sunday, Sorassa Soeur hosts a church service at Salon No. 5.

“Some persons have preconceived notions about an Asian girl in company,” she explained. “Some have questioned if we do massages. I say no, we do hair. When the shootings in Atlanta occurred I bought quite nervous, asking yourself if I was going to see some thing like that come by means of our doorway. I don’t feel so, but I feel about it. We appreciate our group, my brother and me. We have had largely good ordeals.”

 On Sunday, Soeur hosts a church provider at the salon.

“We serve breakfast, then view a sermon,” she claimed “It’s open to everyone. I commenced it in November of 2020. We observe Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, stay on YouTube. It’s called a check out get together. The doors open up at 11 a.m.”