Exclusive Interview: Mikaila Ulmer BEESweet Lemonade Before Shark Tank Sweet Deal
Our partners over at Ujima Magazine based in Austin, Texas had the pleasure of interviewing 10 year-old CEO of BEE Sweet Lemonade Mikaila Ulmer back in December of last year. Well since then, the pint sized entrepreneur appeared last week on ABC’s Shark Tank and, accepted an offer of $60,000 for a 25 percent stake in her company from mogul and FUBU CEO Daymond John. Congratulations on a job well done!
Check out her Q&A below conducted by writer Shametra McGregor:
UM: Most people don’t think about bees very much. How did you become interested in bees?
MIKAILA: I did not think about bees often until I was stung twice in one week. (one on ear and one of the neck) My parents did not want me to be afraid of bees so we started doing research. I became fascinated with bees. I learned how important bees are to our ecosystem and how they help us by pollinating one out of every three bites we eat.
UM: How did you come up with the idea for lemonade? Was it a favorite drink?
MIKAILA: I really liked lemonade because it is sweet and yummy. The idea to create a lemonade product was born when my parents signed me up for Acton Children’s Business Fair and Austin Lemonade Day. While I was thinking about what product to create 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 for Flaxseed Lemonade. Since I was learning about bees at the same time, I thought, why don’t I sweeten it with honey?
UM: What makes your lemonade different from other brands?
MIKAILA: The ingredients (honey and flaxseed). Also the new flavors have healthy ingredients in it like – black tea, prickly pear, and ginger. It tastes good and good for you! One more thing. My lemonades taste great as hot drinks. Now that it is getting cold, I like to warm them up and drink them like teas.
UM: You give back 20% to organizations that save bees. Can you tell us a little about that.
MIKAILA: I like using my own money to solve a problem. So I donate my time and a percentage of the profits from the sale of lemonade to help honey bees. Right now I am working with the SFC to raise money for a beehive in their Teaching Garden. I also donate to Heifer International .
UM: You spend a lot of time educating the community about bees. What do you find most people find surprising about bees?
MIKAILA: Everything. But I will name a few! To make one pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees. WOW! Honey is the ONLY food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water. Amazing. One more!!! Each of us can help save the bees.
UM: For mom (D’Andra) How do you keep Mikaila grounded and enjoying her childhood?
MOM: Finding Balance. She is able to do a little bit of everything she enjoys both as a 10 year old girl and entrepreneur. Being a Christian. Mikaila knows that being an entrepreneur is cool however, being kind, grateful, loving and respectful is most important
UM: When did you realize she could build a business from her interest in bees?
MOM: When she continued to sell out of her lemonade at all the events and continued to receive request for Mikaila to do workshops on How to Save the Honey Bee, we started to really think about the opportunity. The request from Whole Foods Market to carry the lemonade helped too!
UM: What advice do you have any parents whose child may have a passion for something or a business idea?
MOM: Listen and support their ideas and passions. Continually give children opportunities to apply what they have learned in school. Children love making that connection. A business is a great example. For example, we opened up a bank account for both our children while they were in Kindergarten. They practiced writing and math when they deposited and withdrew their money. Sounds simple but it builds a great foundation.
UM: Thanks Mom. Mikaila, can you share some quick fun facts about yourself? When you are not being a entrepreneur
MIKAILA: I am in the 5th grade, I just turned 10 years old, I dance with Ballet Afrique, I love sleep overs and camping. I also enjoy acting. I just finished being apart of a theatre production at my school.
I have a little brother Jacob who is 7 years old. An interesting fact is that the new Ginger Lemonade we launched is actually his recipe.
I won second place at the 40th Annual Spanish Poetry Declamation at the University of Texas. I recited two poems in Spanish.
UM: What is your favorite fun thing to do?
MIKAILA: Reading, gardening, painting my nails
UM: Favorite food?
MIKAILA: Roasted seaweed – they are like chips but good for you.
UM: Favorite breakfast?
MIKAILA: My dad’s Coconut Milk French Toast.
UM: Favorite dinner?
MIKAILA: I really like my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup and Chicken Pot Pie.
MIKAILA: Anything with salami in it!
UM: Last movie you saw?
UM: Favorite subject in school?
MIKAILA: Art and math
UM: Favorite holiday?
MIKAILA: Christmas and Kwanzaa
How about my favorite bee-friendly flowers? – Echinacea purpurea – Purple coneflower. , Helianthus – sunflowers
UM: Where can our readers find our lemonade? Website?
MIKAILA: http://www.beesweetlemonade.com/wheretobuy/ or sign up for my newsletter
UM: Any new projects or events, please share with us.
MIKAILA: I just started a BeeSweet Sisters Club at my school. It is so much fun! We exchange gifts with each other, learn about the bees and learn how to start and run a business.
Damita Shanklin is publisher of Ujima Magazine and Shametra McGregor is a community writer. Both are based in Austin, TX.
Permission to repost from Ujima Magazine. This article was originally posted on December 26, 2014.