LOCAL BUSINESS MATTERS: Bringing Thailand to the Flower City
BY ASHLEY COOPER | PHOTO BY JENNIFFER MERIDA
Nestled in the heart of the Browncroft District is a quaint, gem of a boutique known as, “Fahsye,” which, translated from Thai means, “clear skies.” Fahsye is the only establishment of its kind in the Flower City; every item is imported directly from Thailand-most are hand-crafted, adding to the store’s unique nuances.
Just last winter, Fahsye owner Suthida Sakulsurarat (known to all as, “Fon”) was working as a graphic design artist for a prestigious Rochester corporation when the company endured a buy-out, putting Sakulsurarat out of the job. Having been born and raised in Bangkok, Sakulsurarat was determined to give Rochester a little Thai flavor. Although she assures me that she is no “fashionista,” she confides that like most every girl, she simply loves to be surrounded with “pretty stuff.” Sakulsurarat worked fervently alongside her husband, whom she met while studying at RIT, to launch the internationally-inspired boutique which officially opened April 6th of this year. Together, the couple avoided the initial, sometimes monstrous start-up costs of setting a small business in motion by shopping locally and opting to do most of the construction themselves.
Perusing Fahsye today, you would think that it would have been in operation much longer than its four month run. Adorned with boho-chic furniture, a terribly inviting coffee bar, an elegant chandelier, and a becalming fountain, Fahsye presents a cozy, tranquil atmosphere begging you to stay a little longer. It is adorned with trendy handbags, breathtaking sterling silver jewelry sets, scarves, wall ornaments, hair accessories, wallets and change purses that you can only otherwise find in Thailand, among other little treasures sure to make any woman fall in love. Fahsye has a high-end feel, but without the lofty prices. Items in the store range from as low as $2 to as high as $150; customers frequently find themselves exclaiming, “Finally, a local boutique with reasonable prices!”
Adding to the spa-like ambiance, funky fixtures, and stylish, must-have accessories, is Sakulsurarat’s bubbly personality. Being shopkeeper suits her well, in spite of the fact that she’s never had any experience running a store. She is connects with her customers in such a way that puts them right at ease. So much so, according to Sakulsurarat, that they just can’t help but to come back!
“I want people to feel at home, that they’re coming to see a friend,” says Sakulsurarat.
For Sakulsurarat, getting laid off was a blessing in disguise. It sounds like she is in the shop keeping business for the long haul. She is even already conceiving ideas of opening up Fahsye to other locations! And for good reason, Sakulsurarat loves what she does and that is more than evident in the way she beams when talking about this new phase in her life.
Although she admits that she is still learning the accounting/bookkeeping aspect of things, Sakulsurarat feels that she is in a good place. She confesses that she works seven days a week, that her store has become an extension of herself-an added stress that she is happy to take on.
“I feel I’m aging better,” laughs Sakulsurarat, “I’m glad I’m doing it.”
For any Rochester women flirting with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, Sakulsurarat bears some words of wisdom: “If you like something, go for it,” she encourages, “Don’t wait too long…and do it smart.” She adds that the best part of being your own employer is the gratification that comes along with hard work; “You see the return. And it all goes to you.”