For Mikaila Ulmer, it all started with a bee sting. Make that two. Encouraged by her parents and teachers, the Austin, Texas, native signed up for two entrepreneurship contests when she was just 4-and-a-half-years-old. “At that same time, I got stung by two bees in one week,” she tells Entrepreneur. “What are the chances?!”To help ease Mikaila’s resulting fear of bees, her great-granny Helen sent her a 1940s cookbook that contained her favorite recipe for flaxseed lemonade. “Then I did some research on bees and found out how important they are to our ecosystem and that they’re dying, so I created a product that would help save them.” That product is Me & the Bees Lemonade, a flaxseed- and mint-infused beverage that is sweetened mainly with honey from local honeybees. For each bottle sold, Mikaila, who prefers the title “queen bee” over CEO, donates a percentage of the profits to organizations working to ease the plight of the bees, including her home state’s beekeepers association.
Mikaila originally sold her lemonade at a local pizzeria when she first started in 2009. She later showcased her naturally sweet wares at a local Whole Foods store, where she held workshops on saving bees. Eventually, she was asked to sell her lemonade at the high-end grocery store. Now, thanks in part to Mikaila’s charming but “nerve-citing” appearance on Shark Tank, she says, Whole Foods carries Me & the Bees Lemonade throughout its southeast region.
Mikaila’s favorite part of being a kidpreneur:
“Being able to meet awesome people is the most fun part. I love being able to go to different events and presentations to share my story, and to teach people about bees and how we can help them.”
Mikaila’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
“Be a social entrepreneur. Do something to help solve problems in the world. Don’t go into business to make a lot of money. Create a business that you see the that world is missing, solve a problem with it and do something you have a passion for. Because the more passionate you are about what you do, the more fun you have while doing it!”