by Abaki Beck
Our Feminist Hero Friday this week is Mikaila Ulmer, an eleven year old entrepreneur, educator, and founder of Me & the Bees Lemonade, which is sold at Whole Foods and other natural foods markets across the nation. That’s right, you can buy lemonade created by a brilliant eleven year old. Sounds delicious, and the deal is made even sweeter by the fact that a portion of the proceeds help save bees.
Mikaila’s story began with a bee sting. After being stung at the age of four, she decided to start researching bees. Upon learning how important bees are to our food system, and that they are in danger, she wanted to do something about it. Around the same time, her family encouraged her to enter a children’s business competition in her hometown of Austin, Texas. She combined her new found knowledge of bees with her great grandmother’s flaxseed and honey lemonade recipe to create Me & the Bees Lemonade. In addition to using honey, which supports beekeepers, Mikaila’s company supports bee saving efforts by donating a portion of proceeds to Heifer International, research at the Texas BeeKeepers Association, and the Sustainable Food Center of Austin. Her business is a wonderful combination of a form of economic empowerment as well as an agent of social change and education.
Since its founding in 2009, the business and her entrepreneurial spirit has won much recognition: she was awarded money from the TV show Shark Tank, a Top 10 Innovators of the Year Award at the South by Southwest Festival, and recently was a speaker at the United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House. I was fortunate to see Mikaila speak at the United State of Women Summit, where she discussed her business and why kids are the best entrepreneurs. As she said, “Only a child would think a lemonade stand could change the world.” She was also chosen to introduce President Obama before his speech. He praised her and joked that he hope she’s hiring, since he’ll be looking for a job in seven months.
Mikaila’s story is a perfect example of why empowering and listening to children is so important. It is amazing that Mikaila has been able to receive so much support to pursue her dreams and make an impact on the world at such a young age. Not everyone has the tenacity and work ethic that Mikaila does; she is truly extraordinary. But her story is a reminder that children are brilliant, children are creative, and indeed, children can change the world. This Friday, we celebrate the brilliance of Mikaila: a truly inspiring girl of color, business owner, and change maker.