Royal Oak Tribune
Teen living with autism becomes successful entrepreneur
At age four, Spencer Kelly of Lake Orion was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and struggled to communicate.
Now, 15 years later, Spencer owns a business while also earning his accounting degree at Oakland University.
“Slowly over the years, with therapy and with many setbacks, Spencer started to emerge and learn how to speak,” his mother Tracie said. “When you meet Spencer today, you’d never believe the autism challenges he went through as a child.”
In 2016, Spencer started the company Expedition Soaps with his now 16-year-old brother Grant, a junior at Auburn Hills Christian School. He got the idea after his bike was stolen, and he needed to earn $300 to afford a new one. Tracie thought Spencer would get his first job – but, instead, he decided to become an entrepreneur.
“I was in the shower, and (realized) I didn’t want ordinary bar soap with those harsh and unhealthy chemical ingredients.
I wanted a soap bar that had gentle, natural ingredients that could lather great. I thought, ‘Why can’t I make a better soap?’ That was my ah-ha moment,” Spencer, 19, said.
He partnered with a local artisan family to make soap bars, body butter, lip balms, sugar scrubs and bath bombs for his business, and, that September, he launched the company.
“He made $457 the first day – enough to pay his dad back for the new bike. And it’s taken off from there,” said Tracie.
“We’re enjoying and cherishing these years spent building this business with our teenaged boys. It truly has been the best experience that their dad and I could have ever asked for. It has taught them life and business lessons that they will take into their adult lives.”
In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Spencer and Grant’s business logo was featured on 3-Dimensional Services Group’s Trans Am race cars competing in the Atlanta Road Race.
Doug Peterson, race car driver and owner of the Rochester Hills business, said, “It was a pleasure to support Spencer, Grant and the Expedition Soap Company by putting their logo on (our) race cars. They make wonderful products, and it was an easy call to help promote them during Autism Acceptance Month. The success of the Expedition Soap Company is proof the someone with autism can do great things.”
For more information about Expedition Soaps, visit expeditionsoaps.com.