CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va -- Walk inside one of Michelle Leshok’s stores and you will find it hard not to smile. Her shop The Lazy Daisy doubles as a headquarters of happiness.
"Customers will tell you when you walk into the Lazy Daisy you feel this energy. And it’s true," she said.
Never did the career bookkeeper think home decor would be her calling.
"I just wanted to have a happy, positive place. Something to throw myself in 24 hours and seven days a week. That is exactly what I did," she said.
The dynamo from New Kent poured everything into her growing business. Michelle owns four locations from Williamsburg to Short Pump.
"Fully absolute dedication. I live, eat, breathe the Lazy Daisy. It is my passion,” she said.
That passion also happened to save Michelle’s life.
"The reason behind the Lazy Daisy was loss," she said. "My life was normal. Very busy, very hectic -- go, go, go."
Six years ago, on August 26, 2011, her son Morgan was in the care of his father Scott. This was during Hurricane Irene. Michelle tried to get in touch with Scott, but he would not return her phone call.
"My range of emotion was anger -- to fear -- to let everything be okay and I had this feeling in my stomach that something was horribly wrong," she recalled.
After a day of not hearing from Morgan’s father, a worried Michelle got in her car and drove to Scott’s girlfriend’s house on Stockleigh Drive in Chester. She was greeted by investigators and a tangle of yellow police tape.
"They told me they didn’t know how to tell me. I begged them to tell me what was wrong," Michelle said.
Morgan and his dad were shot dead by the estranged husband of Scott’s girlfriend.
Morgan Allred was only seven years old.
"I just remember forcing myself to the ground because I went completely numb," Michelle said. "Knowing that your mom and your dad have to be called to let them know that their grandson was killed and drive an hour. It was hell; it was a hell day."
Michelle spiraled downward without her only child.
"It was pouring rain," she said, "I got up late at night and I went to the cemetery."
She tried to dig up her murdered son.
"I screamed and I cried. I knew I was going to die," Michelle said. "I wasn’t going to make it."
But a shell-shocked Michelle chose not to be angry and bitter. She said The Lazy Daisy location in Chester, her first store, became her salvation.
"I tell people all of the time. I wasn’t just a mom. I was THE mom. He was my entire existence," Michelle said.
Michelle's new venture also honors the memory of her cherished son. Her son’s silhouette even graces the store’s sign.
"Everything I do is for Morgan," Michelle said.
Her son, who will forever be that smiling seven-year-old boy, inspires his mom each and every day.
"The happiest little boy you would ever know, she said. "Smiles always. Always. Everything about him -- beautiful, happy, healthy. Just taken way too soon," Michelle said.
Michelle Leshok credited Morgan for her award-winning business.
"I expanded again and again and again. Then I ventured into our second location and a third and a fourth. It has been crazy. Really incredible," Michelle said.
After years of pain and heartache, The Lazy Daisy has helped Michelle Leshok bloom again.
"He is everywhere. He has his hands all in it. He will make sure his Mom is okay, "she said.
" So, it's good.”
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