Good, clean family fun
Leo Morris has been pushed around and put down, but now he is a stellar salesman, who also has achieved his goal of becoming a black-belt in Taekwondo.
Leo is 9 years old and he can be found selling his mother's handmade soaps at the Beaverton Farmers Market, among other venues.
"I named one of the soaps 'Leo's Lion Heart,' and we donated a third of the proceeds to an anti-bullying non-profit organization," Leo said. "I've been selling soaps for three years."
His mother, Shelly Morris, started Lion and Rose Soaps in 2011.
"What began as a hobby, quickly became an obsession," Shelly said. "I decided to get my hands dirty — or should I say clean — and take my soaps to the local marketplace. Making soap provided a creative outlet and once I got started, I couldn't stop. Making beautiful soaps that left my skin feeling supple and soft became my passion and subsequently, Lion and Rose was born."
Leo has found a community of friends at the farmers market and he even barters with other vendors. "I get to talk and meet new people," Leo said.
"He's really good at math and calculating," Shelly said. "He's a natural salesperson. He's so charismatic. He says things that would be taught in business school."
Though the whole Morris family plays a role in the soap business, Leo is the face and personality of it.
The Morris family is comprised of Shelly, her husband Joe, their first-born son, Leo, Somerset Rose, 7, and Rosalie Jane, 3.
The company Lion and Rose was named after the children.
"Leo is my Lion and my girls are my roses," Shelly said. "They inspire me daily and help me with the business, as does my amazing and supportive husband Joe, who collaborates in the creation of our top selling beer soap."
She said, "Leo works the farmer's market booth and charms shoppers with his wit and confidence. Somerset, my creative muse, dreams up color combinations for new soaps and Rosalie — my sweet soul, has attended many bazaars with me — content in her carrier drawing in customers with her beautiful smile. As a stay-at-home mom, I have loved every minute of my soap-making career. I make soap in small batches and each batch is made with love, pride and passion," Shelly added.
Leo, who was identified at 5 years old as talented and gifted, said being involved in the business has made his family closer and he gets to employ his natural skills.
"When I grow up I want to go to Duke for college and maybe become an architect or an artist," Leo said. "Or maybe something in civil service — because I am sensitive and have a strong sense of right and wrong."
But for now he's content with his life. He's learning other languages, taking gymnastics, singing in his church choir, spending quality time with his pet cat Monty and his many chickens — and of course, selling soap.
By Mandy Feder-Sawyer
Reporter, Beaverton Valley Times
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