De J. Lozada opened her gourmet popcorn shop, Soul Popped, in Barton Creek Square Mall in October, but she said the story of her brand was years in the making.

Prior to creating Soul Popped, she found herself with $53 to her name and children to care for.

“I had to decide in that moment ... how can I take that $53 and make money for myself and for my family?” Lozada said.

Lozada’s son provided the inspiration to create soul food-flavored popcorn. He is on the autism spectrum, she said, and because he is sensitive to texture, Lozada would use popcorn in an attempt to introduce different food flavors to him.

Using real spices and ingredients, Lozada created her seven signature flavors from her own soul food recipes, she said. In short order The Soul Poppers, Lozada’s nickname for her customers, became fans of flavors such as Austin Smoke BBQ, Heavenly Mac & Cheese, Buttered Corn Off-The-Cobb, Banana Pudding and Big Momma’s Fried Chicken.

She began selling her product at local farmers markets before eventually opening her storefront location, which, according to Lozada, made Soul Popped the first black-owned business to open at Barton Creek Square.

“Word of mouth is the reason we’ve grown. ... There’s something big businesses can’t replace, and that’s the authenticity of belonging,” Lozada said, adding that as a member of the Austin community she sees the importance of building a relationship with her customers.

Lozada said she is not done growing her brand and has ambitions to expand to The Domain and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. She has also developed a new digital fundraising program that allows for partnerships with school districts and nonprofit organizations.

“You plant deep and spread wide,” Lozada said. “We want to start at home because this is our community, and we love our community.”

Soul Popped

2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Austin


Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.