Staff Reporter

When Anastasia Soare was a young woman in communist Romania, the country had reached a low point. There was no electricity after 6 p.m., and by 1985, she remembers, "we waited in lines for endless hours just for bread." Soare bartered clothes for basic necessities like toilet paper and matches.

Yet no matter how dismal the day-to-day living, Soare remembers her mother making sure to have one "beauty day" a week. Every Sunday, she went with her mother to the beauty salon and watched her get a manicure and pedicure and get her fingernails painted.

"That was always an uplifting pleasure," said Soare, who noted that she was taught the importance of preserving one's spirit and determination in the worst of circumstances.

That kind of outlook paid off when she arrived in Los Angeles only nine years ago, and without speaking a word of English, managed to get a cosmetician's license. Today, she is L.A.'s unofficial eyebrow queen, with a three-month waiting list for a 10-minute sculpting procedure for which she charges from $30 to $40.

Though she dreamed of having her own business and makeup line ever since leaving Romania, Soare was a little surprised at the speed with which her Anastasia salon in Beverly Hills has taken off. Her recipe for success: "10 percent passion, 10 percent talent and the rest is hard work. Power is being able to have the courage to do what you love."

Power also means having the courage to say goodbye to your family and country in order to establish a better life and future in America.

It certainly wasn't easy in Romania.

She lived on a large piece of land that was purchased by her maternal grandparents when they emigrated from Macedonia. Because Soare's father died when she was 12, her mother took charge of the clothing business from home and became the family's sole breadwinner. At a very young age, Soare was relied upon for everything from purchasing fabric to managing the books.

In 1979, the 21-year-old Soare had just given birth, but she knew she did not want to raise her daughter in Romania. In 1987, her husband defected to Italy and asked the American Embassy for political asylum on their behalf. Less than three years later, Soare and daughter Claudia had met him in Los Angeles.

Within six months, she had found a job at a small salon on Melrose Place and worked as a cosmetician, doing facials and body waxing.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.