TUPELO • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas Roper spent much of his time with the Tupelo Community Theatre.
But since the coronavirus disrupted the schedule of just about everything, Roper was left trying to figure out what to do.
“I thought since I can’t be in the theater I should start my own business,” the 13-year-old said. “And this is how it came to be – CLEAN hand sanitizer/Roper Brands. It all came out, and I’ve been excited to get everything together.”
Joined by his mother, Tara, Thomas has been selling his hand sanitizer at various retail outlets in the city during “pop-up” events.
To develop his hand sanitizer, Thomas experimented with various ingredients. He didn’t want a gloopy, gel-like sanitizer, preferring a more liquid form. He also wanted them to be scented.
“We did a lot of Google searches on what the CDC recommended with the formulations,” Tara said. “A lot of family members got trials of things and helped pick out the scents.”
She said Thomas was very involved in the process, especially in picking the scents, picking the labels and marketing.
The hand sanitizer is made at the Roper home.
“It doesn’t take us very long to pour but we start out with our bottles, mix the formulations – aloe vera, alcohol, essential oils – and put them in the bottles.”
A diffuse spray also is available that includes a couple of other additional ingredients, including distilled water and Himalayan salt.
“Everything is naturally made,” Thomas said.
With still some difficulty in finding hand sanitizer, he thought now would be the perfect time to offer some with his own spin.
“I thought it would be something great to do – plus there’s nothing else to do at the house,” he said.
The CLEAN hand sanitizer comes in small spray bottles in scents like Seaside, Aloha, Bare, Beach Bum, Sunset and Waterfall.
A new line targeting school kids also has been introduced.
The Golden Wave Edition CLEAN hand sanitizer is available in an inverted 50 ml spray bottle that includes a backpack attachment (hook or lanyard) for $8 and comes in blue and gold
Scents include Golden Wave, Flood Zone, Gummi Bear, Jolly Rancher, Strawberry Shortcake, Vanilla Bean, Sugar Rush, Double Bubble and Birthday Cake
And available for preorder are special editions for Mooreville, Saltillo and TCPS.
“Everybody seems to love it so far,” Thomas said of his hand sanitizer line.”
Tara, he jokingly refers to herself as the “momager” said she’s proud of her son’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“His dad and I are super proud; it takes both of us to pour and do things like that to help out, but the creativity and the ideas and all the things with the marketing and social media comes from Thomas,” she said. “It’s been a great learning experience. He’s finding out what it’s like doing real-world stuff like spreadsheets.”
Roper Brands as his business is officially called, is not quite two months old, but Thomas said he wants to carry it as far it can go.
“I want to take this until it has to end, but I plan to keep this going,” he said.