You may recognize Iris Lopez from her news and weather reports on KVIA Channel 7 or formerly as the voice behind Lily Lopez at HIT-FM radio.
The native El Pasoan has been passionate about TV and radio since she was young, but also had a longing to give back to the community.
So Lopez, a graduate of Montwood High School and the University of Texas at El Paso, set out to start a project that would empower women and support local nonprofits.
On International Women’s Day March 8, Lopez kicked off Mija, Yes You Can alongside The Mija Project.
El Paso Inc. caught up with Lopez to talk about her initiatives. (This has been edited for brevity.)
Q: Aside from being on TV and radio, who is Iris Lopez?
I jokingly tell friends that Iris Lopez from the news pays the bills and Lily Lopez from the radio spends the money because I can be serious when I need to be but I hate taking myself too seriously.
In my spare time I enjoy being a mom to my 10-year-old son, Jacob.
When I’m not hanging out with my son or giving the forecast, I give private singing and piano lessons to younger children.
Music is a stress reliever for me so it makes me happy knowing that I can enjoy music while teaching younger children. I still have dreams of one day making it big and becoming that singer I promised myself I would be when I was younger.
Q: Who do you look up to?
My parents more than anyone. They are the reason I am where I’m at right now. I’ve always been a nervous person and always doubted myself. They always give me that extra push I need. … No dream of mine is ever too crazy or ridiculous for them.
Q: How did Mija, Yes You Can/The Mija Project come about?
The word “mija” is a word I always grew up hearing. … One day my co-worker, Kate Bieri, sent me a meme that had the phrase, “Mija, yes you can.”
I kept it on my phone because It was a phrase that reminded me of my mom, who always made sure to tell me, ‘Mija, yes you can,’ whenever I was doubting myself.
I decided to make the phrase more than just a meme. It turned into a T-shirt that turned into a Facebook page that turned into a website that turned into what it is today, The Mija Project.
The plan is to create our own nonprofit organization, but I first wanted to get our name out there by donating to other nonprofits in need.
Q: What organizations have you supported and what’s next for the project?
I started The Mija Project right when the pandemic began so there were a lot of organizations in need in our community.
Estela Casas was first to reach out to me to ask how we could help her UMC Covid-19 Compassionate Care Fund.
I was excited to know that she would trust me and this brand new project of mine to help her fund.
After that, many people noticed our project and began to reach out for help.
Recently, we donated to GiGi’s Playhouse. Currently we are partnering with InBloom, a local handmade bath products company to raise funds for UTEP’s George Floyd Promise Fund through their ‘Mija Candle’ sales.
We are also proud to be helping the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence to raise funds and school supplies for their Back-to-School campaign.
Q: What plans do you have for Mija, Yes You Can after the pandemic?
Ultimately I hope that we can get out in the city and network more to help our nonprofit grow. I want to be able to help other nonprofits by joining them at their fundraising events and to continue donating to them.
But, my biggest plan and dream is to be able to have an event where women who have been encouraged by our project can come together and network.
There are so many women who have become Mija supporters through social media and I would just love to see them in person, hug them and have a glass of wine with them.
Q. How can people become involved and help out?
The first would be purchasing a shirt through our website and spreading the word by rocking it and sharing your photos on social media.
Another would be by making a Mija donation through our website, mijayesyoucan.org.
And last but not least, sharing your story.
Seeing women wearing our shirts and sharing their stories of achievement on their social media pages is such a great feeling.