Texas Teen Helps Save Honeybees with Wildly Successful Lemonade Business
When she was four years old, Mikaila Ulmer, the young CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade, experienced two bee stings in just one week.
"Naturally, I didn't enjoy the bee stings at all, and I became scared of bees," Ulmer, now 15, recalls on her website. "But then after doing some research about them, I became fascinated and learned all about what they do for me and our ecosystem."
Around that same time, her family was encouraging her to submit a product to children's business competitions near their home in Austin, Texas. That's when Ulmer's great-grandmother Helen also happened to send her family a 1940s cookbook, which included her special recipe for flaxseed lemonade.
"So, then I thought, what if I make something that helps honeybees and uses my Great Granny Helen's lemonade recipe? I decided to give her beloved lemonade a new twist by adding honey from bees, instead of only sugar."
Ulmer started offering her honey-sweetened lemonade at youth entrepreneurial events and from a lemonade stand in front of her home—all the while donating a percentage of the profits to organizations working to save the honeybees. Before long, Me & the Bees Lemonade (formerly Bee Sweet Lemonade) was born.
After 10 years in buzzness, Me & the Bees Lemonade continues to grow and grow...by more than 500 percent since its humble beginnings. Today, the best-selling brand is sold in 1,800 stores nationwide including Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, World Market, H-E-B stores across Texas, and Kroger stores in Houston. Me & the Bees Lemonade continues to donate 10% of all profits to bee conservation groups.
Not bad for a high school student!
Ulmer has been recognized by TIME magazine, Forbes and made an appearance on ABC's Shark Tank that earned her a $60,000 investment from Daymond John in 2015.
"No matter how old you are, you always have something to learn. And no matter how old you are, you always have something to teach," Ulmer told CNBC Make It in 2019. "When you have a big voice, make sure that you give others a voice behind you, and that you're not only growing yourself but helping others grow and giving your expertise to others."
As for the bees? Ulmer believes there's a lot we can learn from the pollinators.
"If you look into a beehive, they're all working very closely together, it's usually jam-packed, and they communicate, they're always communicating, they're always working together, they never put one bee to a job," she said.
Keep up the good work, Mikaila!