KIRKWOOD, Mo. — For the past 2 years, Patrick Calgher has worked at Sammysoap. 

He’s easy to spot. He’s the young man wearing his grandfather’s slick fedora. And then there’s the 10 miniature dinosaurs in front of him as he packages soap.

“It’s like I’m being watched by my fellow reptilian friends,” Calgher said with a smile. “I like working here because I have freedom. Freedom of choice of what I like to work on, whether it be cutting soap, boxing soap, wrapping soap.”

Sammysoap employs Calgher and six other people with a disability. It’s the reason SammySoap has been making all-natural vegan bath and body products for nearly 5 years.

The namesake of Sammysoap is Sammy, the son of co-owner Karen Copeland. Worried that her adult son had already been labeled as unemployable, Copeland became a small business owner, opening a soap and gift store.

“So Sam would have a job and others like Sam would have a job, and the general public could understand what happens to people like Sam and his community,” said Copeland. “Sam is a 27-year-old young man. He's a cool dude. He's a good friend. He's got a lot of friends. He has three jobs.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 8 percent in 2018, more than twice the rate of those with no disability. 

Soap has given Copeland a soapbox.

“You get to a point where you just have had enough and you act up and you demand some respect, but these people need somebody to advocate for them or they'll just continue to be exploited,” said Copeland. “I had really come to understand the disability system, and I thought that there might be an opportunity for me to change the world, to help make it a little better.”

For more information about Sammysoap, visit www.sammysoap.com.

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