We spent some time with a queen of natural and essential bath and beauty products. Creativity spun from a background in graphic design, Shelly Morris’ works include handmade deodorants and soaps to nourish the skin and promote what our bodies are intended to do. Her children, Leo, Rose and Somerset Rose are also very involved with the brand, often pitching in with the good vibes at the farmers market and even thoughtfully influencing specific products themselves. Lion & Rose is based out of Portland, Oregon. Read below to see our full interview with her.
Could you tell me a little about your background?
So, my primary business is soap making which isn’t on Daughters Market, it’s just the deodorant. I don’t know if you want me to talk about the soap making or not because that’s how the business started. That’s the bigger part of my business. The deodorant just came after the soap, after I started making handmade products.
I went to school for graphic design and I’ve always been a creative person. When I was a kid I always tried to hustle and sell things. I was always making things and selling them to the neighbor. We’d always do the lemonade stand. Anything I could do to try and make money. I always had that natural sense of entrepreneurship even though my parents didn’t own their own business. So, it’s just always been something that was within me, but I was also always a creative person.
When I went to school and did that for about five years, I ended up getting married and getting pregnant with my son and he was a difficult baby so while I had planned to go back to work, I just couldn’t. I wasn’t sleeping and couldn’t really function, so I resided to be a stay at home Mom. I had him in 2008 and then I had my daughter in 2010 and it was when she was a baby when I start itching to make some money and was bored creativity. I needed to make something. I always had a collection of handmade soaps and I kept them in a big jar in my bathroom. I started checking out books at the library and started looking at videos and became obsessed with the idea. I then took a class because soap making is not easy.
For those of our readers who may not be familiar with your body of work, how would you describe it to them?
So, I started making the soap, I took a class, I made a batch. With soap making you end up falling in love with it or you make a batch and realize that it’s just way too hard. But I liked it and kept going with it. I think this might happen with a lot of makers where you start making something, you’re really passionate about but then you have too much. All my friends and family had all the soap they needed! So, then I entered a craft show and ended up doing really well. It made me wonder if I should turn this into something. The business was growing organically. You go to a craft show and you have wholesale people shopping around and eventually I started getting some wholesale accounts. I then tried to get into some markets. That’s how I made more of my money was through farmers markets. The selling went so well at farmers markets that I didn’t have the need to go back to work so I’ve been making soap for almost eight years and the deodorants for about four.
How did you transition from soap making to deodorants?
When you start making a natural product then you start looking for other natural products. You want to support another small business, but you also want to use stuff that’s better for your body. I started buying natural deodorants that were $14 a tube! I looked at the ingredients and I figured since I knew how to make soap that I could figure out deodorant. So, during my slow season, I took a lot of time and energy into developing a formula and had some people test it out. Got the packing down and started selling at the farmers markets. I’ve done other products along the way but the products that have really stuck around are the soap and deodorant. People are often asking what else I can make but I’ve tried a lot of things, but these two items are the ones I’ve stuck at. There’s only so much one person can do. I’m not trying to expand it; I’m trying to really hone the focus and quality of these two products.
What is the meaning behind the name, ‘Lion & Rose’? Is there significance behind it?
Yeah! The name came from the kids. I was getting frustrated when trying to come up with a name because every time I thought of something it was already being used. My husband actual really helped me come up with, ’Lion & Rose’. ‘Lion’ is for my son Leo, it’s lion in Latin and ‘Rose’, is for my daughters that both have Rose in their names. Leo is my Lion and my girls are my roses.
What is your favorite type of product to make?
Well the soap is much more interesting than the deodorant because it’s more creative. The deodorant is great because its incredibly useful and everyone can use it and it’s a safe product. I’m proud of the fact that it works and smells good. I guess you could say that there is a small creative aspect in deodorant making because you have to find the right formula and proportions to create a good balance. But the soap making is like part art and part science.
What concerns should people have about conventual deodorant? What are the concerns, if any?
Well, in the commercial stuff it’s the anti-perspirant for the most part. It’s primarily an anti-perspirant slash deodorant. They are filled with chemicals, one of them being aluminum. What that does is it goes into your pores and it physically stops you from sweating. It’s linked to breast cancer. If someone’s gone through breast cancer treatment, they will never go back to anti-perspirant. When you get a mammogram, you can’t even wear anti-perspirant because it will affect the process and results. My product will help with odor absorbency, but it will not prevent your body from doing what it’s naturally meant to do.
So, I just wanted to touch on the beginning of your career. Are you self-taught?
Yeah, I do think that most people that make these kinds of products are. I did a lot of research. When I first started, I watched so many YouTube videos. I checked out tons of books from the library before eventually taking a class. It’s one of those things that you just have to start doing. You just have to start making. You’ll learn by trial and error. With soap making there is a scientific element though. You have to understand temperature control.
“You just have to start making. You’ll learn by trial and error.”
You’re also a full-time Mom! How does being a mother influence your art – whether in terms of content or process or just the logistics of balancing the two roles?
Being a small business owner, I always tell people is like the best job for a Mom because I still have the flexibility to go on field trips or go into the class to volunteer. During summer vacation I’m here, during snow days I’m around. I can always do my work whenever I need to do my work. There’s a balance there. The other thing I love about it is that I feel like I’m teaching my kids so many lessons by being a small business owner. My son Leo has been working at the farmers market with me since he was six. He’s just a young and charismatic young man and he loves selling. He’ll be at the booth and he’ll be selling to customers and they just get such a kick out of it. My eldest daughter is more involved with the creative process and is always coming up with ideas for me. She designed her own bar of soap called, ‘Unicorn Sparkles’. I think it helps the kids develop a sense of work ethic.
What advice do you have for other female-identified business owners?
I’m still learning so much. I need advice from others as well. I do think that if you are passionate about something and you really love something, I think you can turn it into a business. Isn’t that ultimately what we want to do? Do something we love? That’s what I want for my kids. Not to have them begrudgingly go to a job but do something they care about. I think if you like something and if you at good at something, you’re probably going to be the most successful.
Do you have anything else you like to share?
I just think it’s really important that when people are buying things, they really think about how they spend their money. You might spend a little more money when buying something handmade from myself, a recipe I created with ingredients I sourced but it’s something good and it’s good for your body which is not something you could get when you go for buying something cheap and you don’t know what you are putting on yourself. Especially with deodorant, that’s really sensitive as you are putting it right by your lymph nodes. Not only is it for your important to think about your health but to also it’s important to think about supporting the locals in your community. Something locally made is so much more special. It has so much more value for the person who receives it.