Tucson-based Turtle’s Soup is a fun & quirky stationery and gift brand that emphasizes eccentricity with bright and bold colors, whimsical design, and a splash of sarcasm.
The company got its start in 2013 after partners Melanie, a lifelong artist/illustrator and lover of all things animal, and Christopher, an aspiring designer & entrepreneur with a knack for business, put their heads together and came up with Turtle’s Soup.
Over the last 6 years business has grown quicker than their namesake. Turtle’s Soup has been able to distribute their stickers and cards to all of the Urban Outfitters locations, as well as hundreds of boutiques across the county.
We had the chance to ask them a few questions about their business and creative process:
When designing a new sticker or card, where do you get your inspiration? Does it start with the animal, the pun or something else?
Melanie: My inspiration is all over the place. It often starts with an animal, an object, or some quirky saying and then I’ll just kind of play with it on paper and see what happens. I don’t always know where I’m going with something until it materializes at the end. The fun part about being an artist is that ideas are just that until you tweak them, refine them, build on them, and watch them come alive. Obviously, I love animals, our surroundings here in Tucson, the culture, and food. All of these things play an important role in my creative process.
Do you have a bestseller? A personal favorite design?
Chris: The ‘Bee Kind’ sticker is probably our all-time bestseller. It’s a couple of years old now and we can still hardly keep it in stock. I think people really like the message. It’s a simple reminder that being kind goes a long way! As a plus, who doesn’t love bees?
Melanie: My personal favorite design right now is actually a print I just finished a few weeks ago, titled ‘Dreamy Desertscape’ (pictured below) It depicts our beautiful Sonoran surroundings and is special to me because these days I spend so much time on the idea of product designs and this brought me back to my roots as a painter, developing a scene and really taking my time with it and all of the small details.
Where did the name Turtle’s soup come from?
Chris: Both Melanie and myself have always been fascinated by turtles & tortoises, and even have a pet Redfoot tortoise named Torta. (after the Mexican sandwich) The name Turtle’s Soup was born out of that admiration for turtles & tortoises, silly wordplay, puns, and a hint of randomness. Instead of a turtle being in the soup, it’s a turtle cooking up a batch of soup. It seemed happy, upbeat, and a perfect fit for what we were embarking on.
Was owning a business always the plan?
Melanie: Owning a business was most definitely not the plan, at least at first. I started an Etsy shop as a hobby on the advice on my aunt, who had been running a vintage shop for some time. I’d always enjoyed drawing, painting, and other crafty sorts of things since I was little, but it wasn’t until I did a ‘handmade’ holiday for Chris that I had the confidence to try and sell my art.
What has been the coolest or most rewarding moment you’ve had thanks to Turtle’s Soup?
Both: There have been so many rewarding moments, growing experiences, and personal achievements thanks to Turtle’s Soup but the one that sticks out the most for us both is being reached out to by Urban Outfitters relatively early on in our timeline. They wanted to stock our greeting cards in all of their stores and we were completely blown away and unprepared for that. We were fulfilling orders out of our small apartment, and on top of that we were in the midst of moving. Somehow, we managed to ship out that first order of 6,000 cards with the help of friends and family. Because of that account, we were able to grow our brand, rent our first warehouse, acquire new equipment, and start adding new product lines. It was exhilarating, inspiring, stressful, and exhausting all at once, and I don’t know if we’d be here today if not for that!
Any special plans for the future?
Melanie: I’ve been working on something secret for the past couple months for a local business that I’m really excited about it. I can’t give it away just yet, but let’s just say that it’ll be zooming around the downtown/university area soon enough!
Chris: We’re excited to announce that we’ll be participating in the Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair this December for the first time! We’ve always wanted to attend but it’s been so difficult because the holidays are some of our busiest times with order fulfillment, but we hired our first employee this year so we’re finally going to be able to take part. We can’t wait!
For more info: https://turtlessoup.com/
You can follow what they’re up to on Instagram, HERE.