AUSTIN, Texas - What started as a lemonade sold at a stand in front of her family's home in Austin is now in more than 1500 stores in America. You may have seen the creator, 14-year-old Mikaila Ulmer featured and successful on the TV show Shark Tank.
She says her all natural lemonade company Me & the Bees is more than expanding, and she's determined to help save the bees. Believing in making a difference in the world is a motto Ulmer has been living by for years.
“I actually got a cookbook from my great granny Helen when I was four," Ulmer said. "I also got stung by two bees in one week so I was terrified by them and my parents said before you're afraid of them, why don't you do a little research."
So in 2009 she decided to start selling honey-sweetened lemonade in front of her house right here in Austin.
The family owned-and-operated company has grown by more than 500 percent from when it first began ten years ago, now ranking as the number one ready-to-drink lemonade growth brand.
"What makes this different is it's a lemonade that tastes good and does good," Ulmer said. "Made from love in Austin, Texas, sweetened with honey, its mission is to help save the bees and encourage youth entrepreneurship. No high fructose corn syrup, we have fun and conventional flavors."
That's why she says stepping foot into this HEB in Austin is a surreal feeling. Sold in 40 states and more than 1500 stores in America this week, Me & the Bees announced their classic lemonade flavor will be sold at the front of store checkout counters at all 350 HEB locations in Texas.
“Big businesses can start small and that's been something I've been trying to teach," Ulmer said. "You don't need a large amount of money to start I started with 50 dollars as birthday money from my uncle."
“At HEB we love supporting local vendors, I would say Mikaila is probably our youngest,” HEB Public Affairs Manager Felecia Pena said.
In 2017 Ulmer was named one of Time Magazine's 30 most influential teenagers. This year she's traveled to Singapore, Budapest and New York to help promote the Healthy Hive Foundation.
“The Healthy Hive Foundation works on increasing bee population through research to figure out why they're dying and education," Ulmer said. "I'm traveling to teach kids about the bees, I'm also making curriculum for kids to use in schools like "Bee Week", and protection to convert regular land into bee-friendly land. Me & the Bees is matching donations up to $10,000 for their 10-year anniversary."
Ulmer recently stood on the State Capitol floor to advocate HB 234, a bill that went into effect this month that allows children to host lemonade stands to make their own money.
And we “bee-leive” her work is far from done.
Me & the Bees’ ginger, iced tea, mint and prickly pear have been recently reformulated to cut sugar and calories, and Ulmer will also launch her new beeswax lip balm product in five flavors at select retailers.
To donate to the Healthy Hive Foundation, visit their website.