How do you turn a fear into fuel for action and success? Ask Mikaila Ulmer! After getting stung twice in one week, Mikaila was scared of bees. But thanks to some research, she decided she should protect them instead of run from them. She learned that honeybees play an important role in our ecosystem, but she also found that we have far fewer bees today than we did 50 years ago, with more dying each year. That's why she started Me & the Bees Lemonade, a company that supports beekeepers by using honey to sweeten its lemonade. Mikaila shares her journey as a young entrepreneur, bee ambassador, and student.
How old are you?
What sparked your interest in honeybees?
When I was 4 1/2 years old, I was stung by two bees in one week and became very afraid of bees. But after some research, that fear turned to fascination. I learned that bees are important to our ecosystem because they pollinate plants, like fruits and vegetables, to help them grow. I also learned that they're dying.
Around that time, I signed up for a youth entrepreneurship contest and was trying to come up with a product to create. My great-granny Helen sent me a 1940s cookbook with her favorite recipe for flaxseed lemonade. So I decided to create a product that would help save the bees and use my great-granny Helen's recipe, too.
Will you tell us about your business?
My company is Me & The Bees Lemonade, and it's a social good lemonade company. That means my mission is to save the bees. I do this by sweetening my lemonade with honey, which supports beekeepers. I also give back some of my profits to organizations that are fighting hard to save the honeybees.
Why are honeybees important to our ecosystem?
Honeybees are critical to our ecosystem because they are key pollinators. One out of every three bites of food in the United States depends on honeybees and other pollinators. Honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year. Unfortunately, they are dying at an alarming rate, which is why I'm so passionate about saving them.
What's your favorite part about having your own business?
I love being able to travel. I've visited South Africa and all around the United States. I also enjoy meeting cool people, like politicians, celebrities, and other successful entrepreneurs!
How do you balance running your business while being a straight-A student?
It definitely isn't easy, but it's worth it. I usually do most of my business during breaks, like summer vacation and spring break. I go to some meetings after school, and sometimes I'll miss school due to travel. When I do miss school because of travel, I make up the work while I'm gone.
What are your goals for Me & the Bees Lemonade?
My goal is to help save honeybees. I also want to encourage other kids to find a problem that they can solve — maybe by creating a business to help solve that problem. And, of course, to make a delicious lemonade.
Do you have advice for other girls looking to start their own businesses?
If you want to start your own business, start with something that you're passionate about. It should be something that's fun and that you truly enjoy doing. Because if you're having fun running your business, it won't feel like work. Another piece of advice is to plan ahead. Make a budget, and write out where and when you'd like to sell your products.
What would you like girls to know about achieving their goals?
Nothing should get between you and your goals. To me, a goal is something that you work to make happen. You can't just hope that your business will work out — you have make it happen.
Content last reviewed September 25, 2017
Page last updated September 27, 2017