Jayden Morrison is not your average 14-year-old; he loves his mom’s cooking, he loves spending time with her in the kitchen, and he has turned his love of both into his own business.
The St. Pete teen also started his business while fighting for his life.
Jayden was just 10 years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His mother, Lorisha Biddings, was understandably devastated when she received the news.
“I kind of lost it,” she said.
While his mother was overwhelmingly worried, Jayden remained stoic. Biddings said her son may not have fully grasped the severity of the situation at such a young age, but even in the following years filled with surgery, chemotherapy and treatments, Jayden stood strong and positive.
“He never really let it bother him,” said Biddings. “He never felt sorry for himself in any way.”
Biddings recalled that the only thing to upset her son was when doctors had to shave part of his head before a surgery, leaving him with a bald spot.
“That was the only thing that had him down,” said Biddings with a chuckle. “He was like, ‘I got to go to school with my hair like this.’”
Jayden underwent a 70-week cycle of intensive treatment. A student at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, he was happy he could still attend school most of the time, but sports were out. The avid basketball player then found himself with more time on his hands after classes and on weekends.
While stuck inside, Jayden began to spend more time in his favorite place at home – in the kitchen with his mother.
“It’s like family time for us,” he explained. “Whenever my mom’s in the kitchen, we like to talk about different things. So that’s just extra time I get to spend with my mom.”
Jayden inherited his love of the culinary arts from his mother, and that love evolved into a strong curiosity as to what ingredients and seasonings she used when cooking. When asked to name a favorite dish, Jayden succinctly said, “all of them.”
“I just really like to be in the kitchen,” he said matter-of-factly. “So, I decided to create my own spice business.”
Biddings was not sold on the idea and relayed how Jayden formulated his plan while undergoing chemotherapy. Biddings would keep putting the idea aside, and the young entrepreneur kept asking, “Mom, what about my business?”
To placate her son, Biddings said they began testing different blends of spices. They eventually came up with three or four that they thought were winners, but when it came time to launch a full-fledged business, Biddings remained hesitant. Jayden’s persistence would eventually pay off, and at the beginning of this year, Jay’s Spice Palette was born.
“I was like, ok, I have to do this for him,” said Biddings. “I’m all in.”
Biddings called the ensuing journey interesting and great, allowing the mother and son to strengthen an already strong bond. The business venture has also taken the duo to new places and introduced them to many people throughout the community. In addition to his website, Jayden showcases Jay’s Spice Palette at local markets such as the Saturday Morning Shoppe.
Jay’s Spice Palette currently features three spices: house blend, island blend, and spicy lemon pepper. Jayden said his favorite is the house blend “because you can use it for anything and everything.” He also is experimenting with new variations, and it is just a matter of time before they are mass-produced and released to the public.
Biddings said she is usually quiet and reserved, and standing in the back collecting money suits her well. Jayden, on the other hand, is the face of the business and relishes his role as a salesman.
“It’s fun meeting new people and interacting with people,” he said.
Jayden is now 14 and in full remission. Although he is back shooting hoops with his friends, he has every intention of continuing to expand his business throughout his teenage years and beyond. He looks forward to watching Jay’s Spice Palette grow, and eventually, he would like to see local restaurants carry and use his spices.
Jayden ’s determination has served him well, both in overcoming a brain tumor and launching a business at 13. He encourages anyone else that is facing similar issues to keep the same warrior’s spirit and offers these words of wisdom:
“If I had to tell someone who is going through this – kid or adult – I would just say keep going. Keep believing, keep being strong and keep fighting the fight.
“It’s a long fight, but you will get through it.”
For more information, go to www.jaysspicepalette.com. A portion of all sales goes towards pediatric brain tumor research.