It Was All She Had: Black Woman Builds Popcorn Brand with $53
This Arizona woman said her product was born out of pain.
De Juana Lozada, founder of Soul Popped Gourmet Popcorn built a snack product brand with only $53 to her name, and now her popcorn is growing in demand.
According to KXAN Austin, Lozada started her brand seven years ago, currently running the business out of the Soul Made Collective, a shop in north Austin’s Arboretum shopping plaza.
Different soul foods, including fried chicken, smoked bbq, and chicken and waffles, inspire Soul Popped’s featured flavors. Lozada’s mission is for each unique flavor to represent African American culture.
“We all have grandmas, mamas, and aunties that when we go to their house, you can taste the love in their food, right?” Lozada said. “I can pretty much make popcorn taste like whatever I want. It’s a superpower. Don’t ask me to explain that because I cannot. It’s just what I do.”
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Lozada unexpectedly transitioned to making popcorn full-time after experiencing a painful incident that eventually became an expensive medical bill.
“In 2006, I just stood up and fell and hit the floor with a pain episode that I’ve never experienced before,” Lozada said. “That started me on a journey that lasted almost nine years of debilitating, un-diagnosable pain. That kept me in and out of the hospital every month for eight and a half years.”
She had been diagnosed with a rare uterine condition called adenomyosis, which left her with $2 million in medical debt.
“In my late 40s, I found myself starting over from scratch,” Lozada said.
Using the only funds she had at the time, which amounted to $53, Lozada bought what she needed to start her product and began working out of her SUV.
“I took half of it, and I bought popcorn seed and coconut oil,” Lozada said. “I knew that that was something that I could make quickly. And I could turn and make a profit with it quickly… it was just a God-given message, ‘Go get up and go make your popcorn.’”
Lozada refers to her loyal customers as “Soul Poppers.”
“When you think popcorn, I want it to be synonymous with Soul Popped,” she said, adding that she wants her company to be a nationally-recognized brand.
Lozada is fundraising to move her growing brand to a larger space.