Mikaila Ulmer isn’t your typical 13-year-old. Not only did she start the small business Me & the Bees Lemonade before she was a teenager, but she also travels the U.S. to talk about the important role honeybees play on the planet.
Find inspiration in unlikely places
It all started when Mikaila was just four years-old. Her parents had signed her up for a children’s business competition. While she was brainstorming ideas for the competition, she got stung by a couple of bees. This sparked her curiosity. “My parents encouraged me to watch this animated video about the bees,” she says. “So, I watched, and found out that they were important.”
Around the same time, she received a copy of a 1940s cookbook from her Great Granny Helen, which contained a recipe for flax seed lemonade. Suddenly, an idea was born – she would use a lemonade recipe from her grandma’s cookbook, infused with local honey, to create a delicious beverage brand, and use some of the proceeds to help save the bees.
Get help from people you trust
As her idea grew from a mere competition entry into a fully-fledged business, Mikaila’s family was there by her side. They stepped in with whatever she needed: inspiration, encouragement, support and sometimes a little know-how. “As an eight year-old, I definitely didn’t know what it took to get my company into stores,” she says. “So, my parents were very important to the growth of my company.” Mikaila’s mom taught her about marketing, and her dad taught her about finance.
Today, Me & the Bees Lemonade is sold nationwide in grocery stores, restaurants and a growing number of natural food delivery companies. Mikaila attributes her success to the community of people who have helped her along the way.
“Making lemonade and mixing all the ingredients is like mixing all the people in a community together,” Mikaila says. “The lemons are me, the ginger is my brother, honey is my mom and the flax seed is my dad.”
Today, Mikaila also travels around the U.S., speaking to schools and churches about the importance of the honeybees, and educating people about how and they can pitch in to save them.
Turn negatives into positives
Thinking back about how her company got started, Mikaila calls out the importance of turning negatives into positives. Or, to put it another way, turning lemons into lemonade.
“Choosing a problem to solve and creating a company that helps solve that problem has helped my company very much.”