Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
David Thomas writes in the April 9, 2014 posting of the Austinet that “Selling lemonade in America is the quintessential introduction to the world of entrepreneurship for our young children.”
But, our YG&B feature this week has raised the bar for home-made one cup lemonade to bottled sales on the shelves of ten stores in the Austin and greater statewide Texas outlets.
She is young, gifted and Black. Mikaila Ulmer has created her own special brand of lemonade using locally harvested honey and fresh mint which she has added to her 88-year-old great-grandmother Helen’s all-naturel “Old School” flaxseed lemonade recipe.
Austin, Texas has what it calls “Lemonade Day,” a free citywide event designed to encourage young people, ages 5 to 17, to enter the field of entrepreneurship.
Objectives include the cultivation of setting goals, developing a business plan for the lemonade stand, establishing a budget, seek out investors, provide custom service, and give back to the community – one cup at a time.
Citing the Entrepreneur Foundation of Central Texas and Capital Factory which organizes the event, more than 15,000 Austin youth have participated as of 2013 over the five years since it started.
Within this time as noted by Laylan Copelin in the Austin American-Statesman, this initiative has sold more than $1.5 million dollars’ worth of lemonade and has donated more than $750,000 to charity.
Mikaila entered the annual Lemonade Day festivities in 2011. Her recipe won the Most Creative Lemonade in Lemonade Day Austin’s 2011 Best Lemonade Contest.
At only 9-years-old, her product, branded BeeSweet Lemonade, now sells in 10 Austin and state wide Texas retail outlets.
“While attending a store opening in Austin, I stumbled across a passionate energetic and delightful young lady,” says Erica Gentry, Sugar Land store team leader for Sugar Land Whole Food Markets. ”
I was so taken by her and her story, I fell in love with the product immediately. I am so grateful to bring Mikaila, her story and her wonderful product to the Houston area,” she adds.
Sugar Land Whole Foods Market is the first store in Houston to carry BeeSweet Lemonade and it is additionally currently available in the Whole Food Markets in Austin.
Other area sale outlets for Mikaila’s BeeSweet Lemonade include TOMS’, People’s RX, Max Wine Dine, Farm House Delivery Quickie Pickie, East Side Pies, Barton Hills Market and The Natural Gardener
Mikaila even as of this past October is investing in new delicious flavors to include BeeSweet Lemonade with Pricky Pear, BeeSweet Lemonade with Ice Tea, and BeeSweet Lemonade with Ginger.
As advertised in the October 26, 2014 GOTG, each new flavor, “puts a unique healthy twist on an oldfashioned favorite recipe and is sweetened with honey,” adding that all of the flavors, “can also be prepared as southing hot beverages which are perfect for the rapidly approaching winter.”
So just what is this “story” earlier alluded to by Gentry to which she was so moved? Well, it’s all about the bees.
“When I was just four, my family encouraged me to make a product for a Children’s business competition, the Acton Children’s Business Fair and Austin Lemonade Day,” reveals Mikaila in her backstory which started a unique life changing chain of events.
She adds, “So I put on my thinking cap. I thought about some ideas.
While I was thinking, two big events happened. I got stung by a bee – twice.
Then my Great Granny Helen, who lives in Cameron, South Carolina, sent my family a 1940’s cookbook which included her special recipe of Flaxseed Lemonade.”
Mikaila admits that she didn’t at all enjoy the bee stings. “They scared me.”
Her parents, Theo and D’Andra Ulmer, began helping their daughter research bees to overcome a lingering fear as noted in Kim Jarrett’s February 2014 Soulcity.com article.
“I became fascinated with bees. I learned all about what they do for me and for our ecosystem.
So then I thought, what if I make something that helps honeybees and use my Great Granny Helen’s recipe? That’s how BeeSweet Lemonade was born.
It comes from my Great Granny Helen’s flaxseed recipe and my new love for bees.”
She further explains in the December 20, 2014 Black Business Entrepreneurs that she sweetens her lemonade with local honey and mint. “And today,” she says in this December posting, “my little idea continues to grow.”
The locally harvested honey, cites the April 16, 2014 Sugar Land Sun, makes BeeSweet a source for antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to also include Omega-3 and essential fatty acids as provided by the flaxseed.
BeeSweet is caffeine free, contains no artificial ingredients or high-fructose corn syrup and is bottled in Austin.
It was Mike Fried of East Side Pies in Austin who first suggested that Mikaila should bottle her lemonade.
“I thought her focus and drive at such a young age to start a business and her passion about the environment and local issues resonated with me,” he said as quoted in Copelin. She asked if we would sell her lemonade, and I said, ‘bottle it and we’ll carry it.”
Sisters & Brothers Inc., bottle the lemonade in South Austin writes Copelin.
“We wanted to keep it in Austin so Mikaila can be involved,” her mother said. Mikaila is in charge of quality control. She taste the lemonade hot to be sure the recipe is consistent. She also does in-store demonstrations and workshops on saving the bees.
Her 6-year-old brother, Jacob, is her greatest fan and gets paid 10 cents for each full lemonade box he puts in the car for delivery. Mikaila believes in the importance of her work.
She gives 20% of the profits from her lemonade sales to the Texas Beekeepers Association in an effort to help save the bees. Her motto: “Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee.”
The rest, as posted in Jarrett, she saves for college or for spending when she’s older and she spends some on “fun stuff for me and my brother.”
In addition to winning the Most Creative Lemonade in Austin’s 2011 Best Lemonade Contest, the Austin Chronicle named BeeSweet Best Kidtreprenuerial Biz, and the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce named Mikaila the 2013 Teenpreneur of the Year, even though she was in the third grade at the time.
Mikaila also spoke at the 2014 City Director Conference saying from the podium that she enjoys reading, arts and crafts, gardening, playing outside and “making BeeSweet Lemonade.”
A fourth grader at Trinity Episcopal School, she has definite visions for the future. “I want to make my business bigger, and I also want to be a doctor or someone who helps animals because I just like helping,” she says.
Her parent’s “love and support” writes Jarrett has been a steady anchor planting their daughter firmly in a self-enriching future of her own creation.
For additional information of Mikaila and her BeeSweet Lemonade, please link on to her website: www.beesweetlemonade.com.