I have had a long-time dream of growing orchids, from when I was a six years old child growing up in
Thailand. Now more than 30 years later, my dream of starting growing orchid in the land of opportunity has
come true. To The United States of America, my second homeland, that I love and appreciate………..
And this is my story of how I made it, which was published in a magazine and a local newspaper.
Lake & Sumter STYLE SOUTH LAKE PRESS
April 2007 May 18th 2007
By Claudia O’Brien by Roxann Brown
Photo by Steve Floethe
Some people live without inspiration or determination. Others are determined enough to
press on until they reach their dreams; not only enjoying the sweetness of success, but
Smiley Promsurin stands in the middle of her greenhouse in Clermont, Florida surrounded
by an endless sea of glorious orchids. The beauty of the stunning colors and seemingly
endless varieties is nearly overwhelming.
“I walk in paradise. I walk in my dream every day”
The dream began long ago when she was six years old and living in Northeastern
Thailand. She and her mom visited a grand aunt who grew orchids as her hobby in
Bangkok. Smiley was mesmerized by them.
“I said to myself: ‘one day, I’m gonna have lots of orchids," said Smiley “and now I do… all
colors, all kinds.” To have even one orchid was so hard for a little girl who saved her lunch
money to buy orchids. Some days she would came home hungry which upset her mom
The journey to this time and place, where her dream of growing orchids could finally come
true, took a long time. Through those years Smiley ventured down other paths exploring
other more practical dreams. Some roads ended in disappointment, but each road had to
be taken for her to arrive where she is today.
After finishing high school she went on to the Ramkhamhang University of Thailand and
graduated with a law degree. She gave law a try but said she was not satisfied. She took
an office job with the government working in the sugar industry. The love of her life, PK
(who she had met at the university) also worked there. They made plans to someday marry.
When she was 25, her Aunt Sunet and Uncle Greg Sanborn, an officer in the US Army,
encouraged her to come to live with them at their home in Arizona. It meant leaving PK
behind, but she promised him she would come back for him as soon as she could. She
stayed with them for nearly a year but became discouraged because she was not able to
find a job.
Another aunt, Pamela Chinda and her husband Bill invited Smiley to Oklahoma to live with
them. After she arrived, her uncle Bill helped her apply to the US Air Force where she
would be able to further her education. Unfortunately her English was not strong enough.
A short time later, Uncle Bill accepted a job in Orlando, and Smiley moved to Florida with
her aunt and uncle. After she arrived in Orlando, Smiley took on two jobs to be able to
make as much money as she could. Smiley worked at Morrison’s Cafeteria all day and her
second job, at a local McDonald’s at night. Her second job, ended at nearly 11:30 each
night, long after the buses stopped running. To go home, she had to follow Kirkman Road
to a Turnpike overpass, climb up to it and cross the narrow pathway over the speeding
traffic below. It was a dark pathway, and on rainy and windy nights, it was dangerous as
Sometimes she felt very lonely on these walks home and asked herself, “What do I have to
do? Will I ever get anywhere?
One night, walking home, she spotted a tiny weed growing through a crack in the asphalt
that had managed to bloom with a beautiful yellow flower. The next night she saw the
flower again, a week later the flower still there, She said to the flower, “Look at you! You’re
still there. You’re only a weed, and you have no choice but to give the world your beauty.
How do you do this alone? You don’t ask for help and just do your best” Smiley said she
stood there feeling quite inspired and realized that she, unlike the little flower, had choices;
lots of them if she dared to persevere. “I will never give up” Smiley said. She took her
savings, bought a car, and got a job at Disney World 'Epcot' Land Pavilion.
She returned to Thailand in 1987 and married PK but she had to leave him behind again to
return to her job and the life she was building for them in America. It took nearly three long
years for PK’s papers to be finalized so that he could join her in the US. PK was able to
finally come to Florida in 1990. Together they worked hard and were able to buy a small
house in Orlando. In 1998 their son Phil was born.
One day while picking up some necessities at a Home Depot store. Smiley saw two bright
orchid plants and spent a precious $50 to buy them. They were beautiful and the pleasure
they gave her rekindled her childhood dream of growing orchids. Two orchids turned into
ten, then hundreds. She eventually had over 400 orchid plants in her small back yard. She
was getting closer to her dream. She and PK began looking for an affordable land where
she could begin working on the dream. It needed to be big enough not only for her orchids,
but also to build a home for themselves and their son.
In 2000, they found five acres in south Clermont. After PK cleared the land, in March 2001
they built two greenhouses. Smiley ordered her first 5,000 orchid plants from a grower in
Just when everything looked like it was going their way; a mini tornado came through and
crushed the greenhouses. PK never gave up and he vowed to repair the damage. One
week later the 5,000 fragile orchid plants arrived. They were putting them in the
greenhouse while the roof was being put on. They made it!
Each year they kept growing more orchids and adding more greenhouses. Now there are
nearly 100,000 plants under 20,000 sq. Ft. That has just about fulfilled Smiley’s dreams.
Most of Smiley’s orchids are for sale. She has her own personal collections that she marks
by colored ribbons that are not for sale. Her goal is to own every type of orchids which is
literally impossible since Thailand’s orchid farmers keep creating new varieties almost
daily. People love the varieties Smiley offers. Some choose the orchids that produce the
sweetest of scents. Others choose orchids that produce the biggest flowers.
Smiley is also hoping to pass the love of orchids to her son. He has grown some orchids
himself and has even gotten to keep whatever money comes from their sale.
Meanwhile to keep her dream afloat, Smiley continues to work and PK takes care of the
greenhouses during the day.
Smiley’s only sadness is that her parents who live in Thailand will never get to witness her
dream come true. When blooming season, Smiley donates some cut blooms to 'Wat' a
Buddhist temple. The Blooms are sold to raise money to help the temple. Smiley considers
herself lucky and enjoys giving something to help others.
She says her dreams would never have come true without her beloved husband PK. He
told her, “Dream far and I’ll help you reach your dreams.” And he did.
STORY TOLD BY SMILEY
THE POWER OF A DREAM