-- She's just 11 years old but Mikaila Ulmer has pretty much done it all: she's met President Obama, snagged an investment on "Shark Tank" and she has a deal with Whole Foods.
Ulmer, of Austin, Texas, is founder and CEO of BeeSweet Lemonade, which sells lemonade made with flaxseed and honey. On May 2, BeeSweet Lemonade will rebrand as Me and the Bees Lemonade, the company says, as it expands its distribution and calls people of all ages and backgrounds "to make good of the stings life gives us."
This year has already started with a bang as her business expands. She just returned as a "celebrity chef" at the White House Easter Egg Roll, presenting her lemonade. And she recently announced a distribution deal with United Natural Foods.
The sixth-grader with a 9 p.m. bedtime has sold lemonade at Whole Foods since 2014, when Ulmer hosted events to educate shoppers about bees. Last April, Whole Foods gave Ulmer a low-interest "local producer loan," that allowed her to expand beyond the lemonade's original flavor. The amount of the loan hasn't been disclosed, but Whole Foods said its loans range from $1,000 to $100,000. At the time, BeeSweet Lemonade was sold in 32 Whole Foods Markets. Now it's sold in 62 Whole Foods stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, and there are four flavors: mint, ginger, tea and prickly pear.
The buzz all started when Ulmer was 4 years old. That's when her family encouraged her to make a product for the Acton Children's Business Fair and Austin Lemonade Day. Around that time, her "Great Granny Helen" sent the family a 1940's cookbook, which included her recipe for flaxseed lemonade. Ulmer sweetened the recipe with honey while she learned about the role of honeybee pollination in the ecosystem.
Ulmer invests a portion of the profits from her company to Heifer International, Sustainable Food Center of Austin and Texas Beekeepers Association to help save the bees. The lemonade is made in a commercial food processing facility in Austin and Saren Foods Distributors delivers the products to stores in the Southwest region, according to her website.
One of Ulmer's first big breaks happened when she was nine years old. She and her father Theo appeared on ABC's reality show "Shark Tank" during its sixth season. They cut a deal with Fubu CEO Daymond John, giving him 25 percent of the company for $60,000. The deal was contingent that his partners could distribute the lemonade in convenience stores. Last year was full of other milestones, including meeting President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, being featured in Oprah's magazine, teaching 20 free bee workshops to more than 1,000 students and getting straight A's, according to her YouTube channel.