Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer.
14-year-old Mikaila Ulmer isn’t old enough to drive yet, but she has been running her own business for the past decade — since she was four years old. The CEO of Me & The Bees Lemonade, Mikaila is a student, a businesswoman, an activist and an environmentalist. She began her company when she was a child after two things happened to her — she got stung by a bee, and her great grandmother sent her a family recipe for flaxseed lemonade, which she decided to sweeten with local honey. She decided to start a lemonade stand and donate a percentage of the proceeds to local and international organizations that are working to save honeybees.
Mikaila’s lemonade is now in more than 500 stores across the United States, including Whole Foods and Wegmans and she is one of the youngest business owners in the US. Her parents are actively involved in her business, and Mikaila realized as the business grew that she couldn’t do everything on her own. In 2015 when Mikaila was nine, Whole Foods came into the picture and began to sell Me & The Bees Lemonade in 55 of its stores. Later that year, Mikaila was featured on the US TV show, Shark Tank, and her pitch to the “sharks,” a group of investors across various industries, resulted in one of the investors investing $60,000 in her company.
In a 2018 interview with Shondaland.com, Mikaila explained the origins of her business and what she has learned throughout the way. When she started her company, she really wanted this $30 toy, and her parents said she had to buy it with her own money. She had earned $120 at a business fair, and decided that she could buy the toy and donate to organizations that help to save bees.
“So I realized I can get what I want, and the bees can receive what they need,” Mikaila said. “Eventually, I learned the word “social entrepreneur,” which is what I am today.”
She reiterated that you have to be passionate about whatever you’re creating, if you’re running a business etc.
“Before I created this lemonade company, I had created about three other businesses that all failed,” she said. “I also learned that you can be sweet and be profitable. When I started, I thought I had to choose between saving the bees, which was my passion, and making money. I eventually realized that you could do both and be a social entrepreneur. That was a really important lesson and I try to teach [it to] pretty much every [current or aspiring] entrepreneur [I meet].”
For more on Mikaila, check out this Brit + Co interview from last year.
Girl Museum Inc.