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I Run This: Alison Velazquez, Skinny Souping

Name: Alison Velazquez

Pronouns: She/her

Location: Chicago, IL

Name/Description of business: Skinny Souping. It’s a line of fresh, ready-to-sip, plant-based soups.

Describe yourself in three words.

Driven. Passionate. Empathetic

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started? 

I love learning and I like to challenge myself—building a business from the ground up allows me to do both on a daily basis. During the last economic downturn, I was laid off from my marketing job, which—when I thought about it—I was unhappy with anyway. I decided to take the opportunity of my down time to rethink my career and decided to pivot and follow my passion in health and wellness.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

It’s imperative to have mentors and advisors. However, you need to take advice with a grain of salt because ultimately the business is your vision.

How does running your own business make you feel?

Thankful. I feel blessed to be able to wake up everyday and do what I love—especially knowing we create products that help people live healthier lives.

I Run This: Alison Velazquez photo of ingredients

What are some of the hurdles or roadblocks you’ve faced?

Every day is a new battle. However, having a fresh product that is perishable inherently creates many complications from distribution to production.

What are some challenges that Hispanic/Latinx small business owners face that others may not?

Raising capital has proved to be a challenge as a minority woman—historically only about 2% of venture capital goes to women-run businesses, and even less to Latinx women.

What unique perspectives do you bring to the small business economy as a Hispanic/Latinx business owner? 

I grew up watching my father work three jobs. He and my mom wanted to give us more than they had. It keeps me humble and it keeps me hungry. I’ve struggled and I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges of building a business as a minority so I can clearly identify where the bigger system fails us.

What are some of your major wins or accomplishments? What are your proudest moments? 

The first retail partner to carry our soups was Whole Foods which was huge for me—I love their values and what they stand for. It was surreal when they told us they were going to carry our products. Last year we launched at Costco locally and that was another huge moment. My team is small but scrappy, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of the things many people told us we wouldn’t be able to do. My ongoing proudest moments are being able to tell my parents and family about a new retailer or another way my business is growing. They sacrificed a lot for us and it makes me proud to make them proud.

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

Continuing to scale and grow! We have a new brand extension releasing early next year that we are very excited about.

I Run This: Alison Velazquez photo of soup bottles

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

My grandma was a strong woman who was very business oriented. If I’m having a tough day, I think of her. I know she would tell me to keep going—tomorrow is a new day.

How can Hispanic/Latinx small businesses give back to their community? 

Helping mentor members of the community who want to start their own business, promoting other small businesses, or donating to charities in the community. During the pandemic we’ve donated thousands of soups to frontline workers, soup kitchens and shelters in the community.

What advice would you give other Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs just starting out? 

Follow your dream—anything is possible.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

Dame Otro Tequila” by Paulina Rubio. I love the upbeat tempo and it’s just a reminder that we are resilient, everything is temporary, and you can always overcome problems.

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