Black Founder Spotlight: Mikaila Ulmer, Founder & CEO of Me & the Bees
Once per month, we feature a Black entrepreneur on our blog and our social media as part of an ongoing effort to amplify awareness for Black-founded brands.
This month, in honor of Women's History Month, we spoke with Mikaila Ulmer, founder and CEO of Me and the Bees! We chose Mikaila because we are so inspired by how she founded a brand, wrote a book, and established a nonprofit all before graduating high school!
What is Me & the Bees Lemonade?
Me & the Bees is an all-natural lemonade that offers five “fun and functional” flavors: Black Cherry, Prickly Pear, Mint, Ginger, and Classic. We use simple ingredients, including flaxseed and honey, and avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. What started as a lemonade stand to raise funds to help save the bees has grown into a national brand. Our mission is still to save bees while also encouraging social entrepreneurship. Me & the Bees is sold in over 4,000 locations across all 50 states. I’m excited to keep growing and evolving Me & the Bees to become America’s favorite lemonade!
What’s the origin story of Me & the Bees?
When I was around four years old, I was stung by two bees in one week. My parents encouraged me to learn more about bees instead of simply being terrified of them (which I was!). Upon discovering the important role that bees play in our ecosystem, I was determined to help them. Around that same time, I was also inspired by my Great Granny Helen’s flaxseed honey lemonade recipe, so I decided to set up a lemonade stand. Shortly after, I joined a children’s business fair with my lemonade as my product and decided to help save the bees with the proceeds, and things took off from there.
How did you go from having an idea for a company to being a founder? What made you take the leap?
For me, encouragement from my parents helped me turn my idea into a business. Because they wanted me to learn about financial responsibility, they were supportive when I said I wanted to start a lemonade stand, bottle my lemonade, pitch on Shark Tank, and so on! While neither had experience in the beverage industry, we learned together through research and asking other Austin entrepreneurs.
Additionally, seeing my donations help the bees motivated me to start a non-profit, the Healthy Hive Foundation. And my experiences in business inspired me to write a book: Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid!
Where can we try Me & the Bees Lemonade?
Me & the Bees is available at national major retailers like Target Cafes, Whole Foods Market, World Market, and at Kroger, H-E-B, and Costco in Texas. You can find it at regional grocers and restaurants, too. We also sell on our website, and we have a handy store locator there so you can find your local retailers. We are continuing to expand distribution by adding ecommerce partners like GoPuff, Amazon, and Avo, as well as by getting our lemonades into cafeterias at schools and businesses.