Mia Arredondo, then a high school sophomore in Del Rio, couldn’t come up with an idea for a business-class project. Frustrated, she did what any teenager does when stymied by homework: she yelled, “Mom!” During their brainstorming session, Mia was considering making skin-care items, such as sugar scrubs and lotions, when her mother, Kathy, remembered a soapmaking lesson she’d taken during a chemistry lab at Texas A&M University in the eighties. “I told her, ‘Hey, why don’t we learn how to make soap?’ ” Kathy recalls. After reading some soapmaking books, they purchased a soap mold, lye, and oils and then created their first batch. 

They ended up earning some serious extra credit. Within a year, the Arredondos, including Mia’s older sister, Sarah, had founded an actual business: Cinnamon Girl Soaps, named after a term of endearment for Mia referring to her complexion. 

The family celebrates its Hispanic heritage through scents such as manzanilla, palo santo, and Spanish lavender as well as ingredients including agave and cactus powder. The women took the soaps to pop-ups in their border town, about 150 miles west of San Antonio, before expanding their operations online. They offer more than thirty soaps, with playful names ranging from El Jefe (The Boss) and Ya Bañate (Shower Already) to Poppy Chulo, which is infused with poppy seeds for exfoliation. 

Mia, now twenty years old and attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she studies nutrition, handles Cinnamon Girl’s social media accounts. Kathy, who still teaches high school English full-time, works at the end of each day on the soaps, which she makes in small batches in her home studio and ships to customers. 

Their skin-care line now includes body lotions, such as one called Tres Leches—not just because its scent conjures up the popular Mexican dessert but also because it is made with three milks: almond, coconut, and goat. “I’m one-seventh owner of a dairy goat,” Kathy says with a laugh, referring to Tilly the goat, a resident of nearby Miner Farms. Through a partnership with the property, she collects milk from Tilly roughly every two weeks. 

Sarah, meanwhile, takes the line to markets around the state. She also recently broadened the company’s offerings by making candles, many of which come in traditional hand-painted ceramic vessels by Mexican artisans—another nod to the family’s roots. “I’ve met so many people who are so thrilled to see a product that they identify with,” Kathy says.

Soaps for Us All

Three other independent makers who are raising the bar.

Marfa Brand Soap Co.


Founded by Ginger Griffice, in 2005, Marfa Brand Soap Co. is known for its exfoliating bars, which come in scents that are evocative of its namesake home, from aromatic cedarwood to earthy sage. Visitors to Marfa can stop by the shop, open Thursday to Sunday, or find the products at local stores around the West Texas town. Bath accessories include agave-fiber washcloths and nat-ural pumice stones.

One Tiny Acre


Denise Acebo runs a one-woman soap shop from her garden outside of Fort Worth. Her vegan soaps, infused with rainwater as well as homegrown lavender and mint from her garden, produce a silky lather. One Tiny Acre also offers vegan products such as bath bombs, lip balm, and soapstones that are hand- rolled to resemble river stones.

San Saba Soap Co.


When creating their pecan-oil soap line a decade ago, Marcus and Leanne Holley chose San Saba, the self-proclaimed pecan capital of the world, about two hours west of Waco, as their home base. They now have a storefront and additional workshop space in Fredericksburg. Their soaps contain local ingredients such as Texas wildflower honey, and their extensive fragrance line includes body oils and cologne.

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of  Texas Monthly with the headline “This Family Is Cleaning Up.” Subscribe today.