How a soda reseller built a multimillion-dollar empire

A Houston entrepreneur turned soda into a collectible.

In 2016, a Houston barbershop owner asked Exotic Pop founder Charleston Wilson to bring back some sodas only available in Louisiana, where Wilson attended college.

worker at a desk

The sodas were in demand thanks to the Screwed Up Click, a Houston hip-hop collective, and the barber could easily sell them at a markup.

But one day…

… Wilson returned, his ‘99 Camry crammed with soda, and the barber didn’t want them. So, Wilson made an Instagram account — @ExoticPop — to offload them. Eventually, it exploded on social media.

“At first it was a slow start. People didn’t want to pay $3-$6 for a 99-cent soda,” Wilson told The Hustle. “But as soon as it became a status [symbol] and was bounced off these major influencers, it was an American love story.”


… Exotic Pop sells dozens of sodas, including collabs with musicians like Soulja Boy, DJ Screw, and Too Short. They sell for $5-$50, online and in retailers nationwide, and are considered exclusive collectibles. In 2021, Exotic Pop claimed $6m in profits.

For Wilson, it’s crucial to reinvest that money in his business and community.

So far, that’s included a covid rental relief program, free swimming lessons for kids, and life skills workshops in Houston. Next up, Exotic Pop will build a bottle facility in Texas and expand its line of original flavors.

BTW: It’s not just soda — people will pay a premium for rare cereals, like WWE’s Booty O’s.

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