DeeDee Morris: Building a Legacy in the Community
DeeDee Morris: Building a Legacy in the Community
Story by Cindy Reid | Photos by Tonya Perry
DeeDee Morris has followed her love of hands-on healing from nursing to natural skin care. After a successful career as a Registered Nurse, she took her passion for creating hand crafted bath, body and skin care products and opened Ellen Claire Soapery. She recently added Mo’Southern, a locally sourced line of coffee, confections, and authentic Southern products.
Born in Augusta, raised in Athens and Atlanta, DeeDee has called Effingham County home since the age of 16. Her time as a RN included teaching (CNA, PCT and CPR) as well as geriatric, cardiopulmonary and pediatric nursing. She was also a public school nurse for 19 years at Sand Hill Elementary School. She loved being a nurse and being involved with the community, but after retiring after 33 years in nursing, she says, “I was ready for something fun and creative.”
Her hard work and innovation have resulted in a resounding success, making her a true “Woman in Business” role model. Pooler Magazine recently caught up with this busy lady and asked her how it all came about.
What is a soapery?
A soapery is very much like a bakery—it is where we actually make the soap. All of our products are made by hand in our boutique in small batches and are my own formulary. On many days, you can even watch as your bath products are made right there. Customers are excited to have a real brick and mortar store to come to, smell things and try our products in person.
What appealed to you about the soapery business?
As I nurse, I saw how important skin care was to your general good health. Your skin is your largest organ and can filter and absorb much of what you put on it. Commercial skincare products are filled with chemicals that are not meant for our body. What many people don’t realize—the old-fashioned process of soap making, with lye, oil, and butters is the only actual soap according to the FDA.
If you look at commercial products packaging, you will see that what many consider soap is actually detergent. That’s why they are labelled “deodorant bar, beauty bar, cleansing bar.”
I wanted to produce skin care products using natural ingredients, that were fun and fragrant, so you will feel good about what you’re using on your body.
Do you find yourself continually learning new skills as an artisan?
The biggest, and most important, lesson I learned was how to properly formulate my own recipes for my products. They are complex formulas and recipes that take experience and expertise to do correctly. Every oil has a different value and purpose in the formulas and must be balanced accordingly. On the fun side, I recently developed my soap piping skills!
What do you enjoy the most about your businesses?
I enjoy continually learning and making something new every day. This has been such a creative outlet for me, and I am so happy my customers are enjoying it.
I also genuinely enjoy our customers and getting to know them. Some want the same formula every time and others love trying something new. For some of my regular customers, I can just hear their voice and I know their favorite products. I’ve always been a very hands-on and personal nurse and I’ve applied those skills to my soaping career.
What do enjoy the least?
Dishes! I am always doing dishes because making skin care products makes a surprisingly large mess, but at least it’s usually easy cleaning.
Are your products for the whole family?
We have something for everyone. We carry a gentleman’s line, a children’s line, and even a “Posh Pooch” line for your furry family members.
Can you personalize your products?
Absolutely, we love custom orders! In addition to our standard level of customized orders, we offer personalized bath bombs as “Thank You” gifts and event favors. You can even order you own custom made breast milk soap (using your own breast milk). And for those with a nut allergy, we ensure their products are made in a completely nut free environment.
Tell us about Mo’Southern.
It is authentically Southern coffee, confections, candles and more. Think magnolias and honeysuckle, neighbors that wave, a cup of coffee and conversation at the kitchen table. What could be Mo’Southern?
Our proprietary blend of coffee is smooth, not bitter, and is locally roasted in small batches. Our artisan confections are prepared locally, and we also have home décor, hand-made jewelry, apparel—all sorts of new items!
Do you have expansion plans?
It has been a great journey so far. I am always optimistic, but even I was surprised to see how fast we have grown. We started in our own kitchen and now we are outgrowing our existing space.
You can now find your favorite Ellen Claire and Mo’Southern items in many local stores—Ole’ Country in Guyton, Sunflower in Rincon, Molly Jane’s in Darien, B Renewed in Rincon and Guyton, Wright Wicks in Springfield. The list is ever growing!
This summer we are planning to physically expand the store by building an additional 400 square feet. In two years, Ellen Claire Soapery and Mo’Southern will have a coffee shop bistro together, including a bakery that offers paninis, soups, and other light fare. We are growing all the time!
Are you a family business?
We’re a small family run business, so it really is from ‘Our family to your family.’ Right next door is my husband Bobby’s business, Hometown Auto Care. It’s fun seeing my husband at work every day. This has been our first opportunity to work together and we are enjoying it! Our daughter Katie Morris, Manager of Ellen Claire, works with me while attending college for nursing. Our niece Abby Morris is Assistant Manager and head of Graphics and Textiles. Our niece Amanda Lavin is Manager of Mo’Southern. Our son Scotty is a Software Engineer for Boeing in Jacksonville, Florida. We love being a family business!
Do you have any advice for women who want to start their own business?
I say go for it! The only thing holding you back is your own inhibitions and fear about to start something new. You might just surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!
3130 US-80 Suite B, | Bloomingdale, GA 31302