The southern states of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma are about to get a whole lot sweeter thanks to one 11-year-old girl's lemonade business. Sixth-grader Mikaila Ulmer of Austin, Texas made a recent appearance on ABC's Shark Tank and was rewarded with a $60,000 investment to build her company, which she started when she was four. Do you feel unaccomplished yet?
Based on her grandmother's recipe that she developed in the 1940s, the Ulmer's BeeSweet Lemonade will be rebranded to Me & The Bees before hitting shelves. What makes this lemonade recipe so special? It uses flaxseed and local honey as sweetener. (I just recently dug up an old family BBQ recipe. I'll be seeing you soon Shark Tank.)
In an recent interview with NBC, Mikaila wasn’t always the biggest fan of bees:
“When I was four years old, I got stung by two bees in one week. It was painful. I was terrified of bees.”
Seeing this as an opportunity for growth, Mikaila’s mother tasked her with a research assignment to better understand the insects. Once she learned that bees might become extinct, she switched from using sugar to local bee honey in her lemonade recipe. Out of fear has grown an empire with an environmental and social mission. A portions of the profits from the Me & The Bees Lemonade will be donated to local and international organizations that are trying to save honeybees.
After the success of her investment on Shark Tank, Whole Foods took notice in Ulmer's lemonade due to its support of using local bee's honey, Time.com reports. The national supermarket chain propositioned Ulmer with a contract to sell her lemonade in 55 stores across the aforementioned states. Suffice it to say, pitching lemonade as a legit business sounds like a better plan to make money than offering to do chores around the house for a weekly allowance.
In addition to accepting an honor as one of Movement50’s Top 10 Innovators of the Year at South by Southwest, Mikaila has also announced that she will expand her distribution through United Natural Foods (UNFI), a leading distributor of natural foods and beverages in the nation.
Continuing her work in social responsibility and as a businesswoman, Mikaila runs workshops on how to save honeybees while also participating in social entrepreneurship panels. Her advice for aspiring business leaders, both kids and adults, is:
“You definitely have to be OK with working hard. And another piece of advice is to create a business that you have a true passion for, because the more passionate you are about what you do the more fun you’ll have while doing it.”