Interview with Annie Lopez, founder of Soap and Tonic, by Kate Anderson-Song
KATE: Hello – first off, if you could introduce yourself!
ANNIE: I am Annie Lopez. I’m the owner and creator of Soap and Tonic. With the help of my husband, we started this small business when we moved down to Mississippi. We actually moved from DC to Mississippi because my husband is in the military – airforce.
Soap and Tonic started around summer 2018, so we’ve been open for a little bit over a year now. Overall, I do this mostly as a part-time side hustle but… it is really like a full time job! But my actual full time job is being an IT consultant. So, I’m just balancing that and this online shop as well. It’s definitely time consuming, but I love it!
K: That’s amazing – and you kind of touched on it, but how did Soap and Tonic begin? How did you get into making these products?
A: I’ve always been an arts and crafts lover. I love making stuff, watching tutorials, especially something simple like this. When I first moved down to Mississippi, I got sort of bored with my daily routine of just waking up, working, cooking, cleaning, going back to do it all over again. I just needed something new in my life and I felt that I would be really good at making stuff.
For me it’s an accomplishment just to make something and see someone purchase it and enjoy it. I’m a huge lover of beauty and skin products and I love trying new things. I always want products that are simple – no crazy ingredients. And I wanted things that had fragrances and scents I like. So, that’s kind of how I started making Soap and Tonic products as well!
K: I totally get needing a creative outlet like that. Also, I love a good arts and crafts session!
A: It’s so relaxing to me. That is when I am in my zone. I’m just in my own space and I want to be left alone. My husband will ask “do you want any help?” and I’m like, “no!” I get controlling!
K: You’re like, “this is mine! I’m here!”
A: Yes! Like, this is my space. He can definitely help with all the paperwork and such, but for me, I’m just like “let me just do this!”
K: You’re like: “I’ll add the glitter, you can deal with the paperwork!”
K: So, our third question is: what do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment – either personal or work related?
A: Related to my shop, I think my biggest accomplishment so far was when a local spa here wanted to stock my products in their spa. It was totally unexpected. I’m not sure how they found me – maybe on Instagram? But they saw my stuff and emailed me one day saying, “hey, do you do wholesale?” and I was like: “yeah!” I sent over my catalogue and then the next day they ordered!
I totally believe in speaking things into existence. It’s not like I said “oh my gosh, I want this big order” – but I just thought, “okay, I’m just gonna work hard and good things are going to happen.”
K: Something will come back to you!
A: Exactly! That wholesale order was a big accomplishment for me!
K: What’s your go-to coffee shop order?
A: I always get a caramel or hazelnut latte or macchiato. Even if it’s like a hot summer day, I still want a warm coffee in the morning – it’s kind of weird!
K: Like a routine!
A: Right, like comfort. I need something hot and refreshing so that’s what I always get!
K: So then, question five is what does self-care mean to you?
A: Self-care to me means just taking time off, disconnecting from the world, and taking time to do something for yourself – whether its just reading a book or something else. I try to read a page or two of a motivational book every morning just to get in a better mood to start my day!
K: Do you have any motivational book recommendations?
A: Humble the Poet has really good inspirational books. He speaks the truth in a sense. He’s what I’m reading right now. But yeah, I think self-care is just taking time to do one thing that makes you genuinely happy and improve yourself as a person. I truly believe that if you’re happy with yourself on the inside, that will spread out onto others as well.
K: In a similar vein, who or what inspires you?
A: This sounds cheesy, but I would say my mom inspires me. She has always been so hardworking and she always does things for herself. She always puts others before herself, but I think that is genuinely how she is deep down – that is what makes her happy. She’s almost at that age where she’s thinking of retiring, but even when she hits that age, I think she’s always gonna work because she always needs to keep busy – and I think that’s where I get that from too! I have to keep busy and do stuff to keep my brain going!
K: I’m very much the same way. I can’t just stop – what does that even mean?
A: Exactly! I’m like “I can’t sit down!” I’m on the couch for 5 minutes and then I realize I have something else I can do!
K: What’s next for you and for Soap and Tonic?
A: Soap and Tonic is just getting started! I definitely want to expand more and collaborate with more local businesses down here. It’s very artsy in the city that I live in Mississippi, so I definitely want to collaborate more with some of the shops here.
Hopefully, get the word out to the community, even though I don’t have a brick-and-mortar shop, that I’m here. And to get the word out to more people to support local shops in this area!
As far as myself, I just want to keep improving myself. I’ve been so focused on the shop and my full-time job as well – I’m still working on how to balance the two.
K: I was thinking how insane balancing this all would be. Your Etsy shop is lovely and is branded so beautifully, and then to have a full job and life outside of that. That is awesome!
A: I’m super lucky because, for my full-time job, I get to work from home – so that really helps me!
K: Last question: do you have any advice for Asian women, especially for our readers who might dream of starting their own businesses?
A: Honestly, just go for it. I know for me, as an Asian woman, I’m introverted in a way. I feel shy putting myself out there because of stereotypes that “oh, Asians are submissive and do what they’re told to do” and things like that.
But I’ve been getting out of my comfort zone, thinking “I’m just gonna jump into this and promote myself.” I’ve learned to be more confident in myself.
At first, I wanted to separate my personal life from Soap and Tonic. Like, I barely posted on my own social media about myself. But now I’m just like: “you know what? I’m just gonna put myself out there” because I think that is a good way to connect to others – to put a face on the brand.