Antonio Lopez and his nephew Noel Lopez recently launched a business that they hope will help young men reflect on an important chapter in their lives. And for the Lopez family, this business venture is just another chapter in their story about an American dream.
The neckties created by their company, The Town and Co., each have a logo representing countries throughout the world. They hope the ties will help young men who served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remember the places where they served and have opportunities to share their mission experiences. But for Antonio Lopez, his nephew’s idea to create ties that subtly share where a person has served means even more.
“Noel has always thought outside the box, and when he told me about the idea, I thought it was so cool that you can represent where you served, the people, all those experiences you had. You can kind of express it as you walk around,” Antonio Lopez said. “And for me, that’s a big deal because I have blood from another country. So it’s kind of neat in a sense that you get to express yourself.”
Antonio Lopez, the youngest of five sons born to Candelario and Josefina Lopez, was 4 years old in 1989 when his family left Sinaloa, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States. Today, he is a dentist in West Pasco, Washington. Two of his older brothers have become medical professionals, and his other two brothers own businesses. But when his family first came to America, his father was earning just $2 an hour.
“Our family is the American dream in my opinion,” Antonio Lopez said. “We could’ve left during that time and said ‘OK, this isn’t for us. We’re out of here.’ But there was something that told my dad, ‘Just keep going. It’s OK.’ … I’m just so grateful to my parents that they stuck it through in allowing me to have an opportunity where I’m at now.”
Candelario and Josefina Lopez had just moved to Quincy, Washington, when they were introduced to the LDS missionaries. Candelario Lopez had been the leader of the teachers union in Sinaloa and was pursuing an engineering degree when he decided to bring his family to the United States in hopes that his sons would be able to obtain a better education in America. A family member had recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and introduced the Lopez family to the gospel. The Lopez family joined the LDS Church in 1989.
“The LDS Church changed everything in our lives,” Antonio Lopez said. “My parents have always been close, but, really, the church just changed our whole outlook in life in the way that we’ve always been very close as a family, but we started to take family ties even more seriously, knowing that families are eternal.”
Noel Lopez, Antonio’s nephew (whose father, Candelario Lopez Jr., was 21 years old when his family came to the United States), says the gospel helped his family navigate life in a new country.
“It gave them something to fall back on, to rely on and to live by,” Noel Lopez said. “It just really helped the family build strong roots when they moved here to the United States. Thanks to the gospel, they were able to move forward with those strong roots and just keep growing and progressing from then on. To this day, we all love the gospel.”
Six members of the Lopez family have served missions, including Antonio and Noel, who served in the Ohio Cleveland Mission and the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission, respectively.
Toward the end of his mission in Uruguay, Noel Lopez, now a student at Utah Valley University, noticed that in one particular area, missionaries bought neckties featuring the colors of Uruguay's flag and the Uruguay national soccer team's logo. When he went to his mission reunion after returning home, he noticed several returned missionaries wearing the same tie.
“I figured I could create a product where I could keep sharing that mission experience,” Noel Lopez said, “and create new conversations by designing a tie that has the little logo on it that catches people’s eyes so they can ask, ‘What is that logo?’”
He shared the idea with his uncle Antonio Lopez, who is just six years older than Noel Lopez. Antonio agreed to fund the project.
“I’ve been helped by all of my brothers. …They always gave me a very good example. So for me, any way that I can help other people in my family and especially Noel because we grew up together, is awesome for me, to be able to be in that position that my brothers were for me,” Antonio Lopez said.
Late-night phone calls about the company have brought the two even closer and have resulted in the creation of ties representing 11 countries, available for purchase on the company's website as well as through Deseret Book, with two more coming soon. They hope to create ties for each state in the United States, as well as every country where missionaries are serving. They also hope to find a product for returned sister missionaries to wear. Their goal is for The Town and Co.’s products to spark conversations that will help people remember and naturally share their mission experiences.
“I really hope one day to be able to hear a story where someone was wearing one of the ties (and) they were asked a question about it and that person ended up taking the discussions and joining the church and receiving the same blessings my family has received from the gospel,” Noel Lopez said.