- June 10, 2020
Kriss Harris is good friends with the Little Mermaid, Ariel. In fact, they are such good friends that when the evil sea witch, Ursula, stole Ariel’s voice, Harris spoke and sang for her on occasions. She even was hired as an one of the entertainers to help open the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show at MGM Studios, known as Hollywood Studios today, in 1992.
Born and raised in Illinois, Harris currently resides in Horizon West. She first came to the Orlando area in the 1991 when she was 21. She worked as a flight attendant at the time and was dating a guy who lived in Orlando. She didn’t always consider herself a singer, but one night at a karaoke bar in town changed that.
“A lot of my friends at the time — we used to do karaoke, and that was really big,” Harris said. “I didn’t know I could sing a lick. … We’d go out to these karaoke bars, and I’d (say), ‘I’m not going to get up there. I’m not going to get up there unless I have a few drinks. There’s no way.’ Then one night, I just had a few too many and decided I was going to get up there and grab the microphone and took over the stage.”
A talent agent saw that performance and helped her land an audition with Disney.
“It’s funny how you could be found at a karaoke bar, but it does happen,” she said with a laugh.
Harris left the Orlando area and traveled around the country as a singer after working at Disney for about five years. At one point, she even worked as a producer and put together a show band that toured and played in various casinos around the country.
After years of life on the road, Harris took a break from show business in 1998.
“I needed a break from it all for a while,” Harris said. “I have a marketing degree. My mother would love to say, ‘I spent all this money for you to go to college. … You need to get a real job.’ And I ended up doing that, and getting married to a naval officer at one point. I’m not married to him anymore, but I ended up in Pensacola because of that. And (then) I started my company called Under the Sea.”
Today, Harris, 51, runs a business selling sea salt scrubs made with salt from the Dead Sea. As a nod to the time she spent as an entertainer at Disney, she named her products “Under The Sea.” The business began in Pensacola, but she brought it with her when she moved back to the Orlando area about six years ago.
“Originally, my name of the company was called Touch of Florida,” Harris said. “Then I had a lot of people that were interested that were from out of town … and they were like, ‘We’d love to have this at our state,’ so at that point I started thinking of changing the name.”
“That’s when I kind of went back to my roots of (working with) the Little Mermaid, (because) the salt comes from under the sea, which it does,” Harris said. “So, I changed the name to Under the Sea ... and at that point, years later (from when I started), I was offered to (sing) again in Orlando, and I thought to expand this company down to Orlando.”
Harris began creating sea salt scrubs after she learned that salt from the Dead Sea could help treat dry skin. At first, she created the scrubs for her own use, but eventually, her friends started asking her to make some for them.
“I have researched that the salt from the Dead Sea was very good for people with psoriasis or eczema and those kinds of issues,” Harris said. “I used that salt and made my own creation of different oils — I found out what oils were good for me and what worked — and made my own product. My friends started loving it. They saw my skin change, and they wanted to have some, so it just kind of started (through) word of mouth with my friends. … The next thing you know, I went to a local farmers market in Pensacola … and sold out within an hour.”
The success of Harris’ business has made it a full-time job for her. She often travels around the state for her business and has 12 employees who help her run it. Locally, her products can be found at the Hamlin Artisan Market on Sundays. They also can be purchased by contacting her through her business Facebook page.
Although running her business takes up much of her time these days, she can’t stay away from the stage forever. Occasionally, she’ll sing in various different shows throughout Central Florida and sometimes makes an appearance at the Thursday open-mic nights at Pilars in downtown Winter Garden.
“I’m singing still, but on a part-time level, just because it’s my love” Harris said. “Once a singer, always a singer.”