Two bee stings and one cookbook changed Mikaila Ulmer's life forever.
At the age of four-and-a-half, Mikaila's family encouraged her to enter the Acton Children's Business Fair, a business competition for kids. Not long after, she was stung by two bees in one week, and her great-grandmother Helen sent her an old cookbook from the 1940s.
"My parents told me to just do some research on the bees to see if I'd be less scared of them," Mikaila recalls in a speech last year for Talks at Google. "I did that research and I found out how incredibly important colonies are and how they're dying, so I decided to create a product that helped save the bees."
Inside the cookbook was a recipe for flaxseed lemonade — and inside Mikaila, a budding interest in honeybees. Seven years later, 11-year-old Mikaila is the CEO of BeeSweet Lemonade, a product so successful it's on the shelves at Whole Foods and Shark Tank investor Daymond John just put $60,000 into it.
Each year, Mikaila donates a percentage of her profits to local and international organizations fighting to save the honeybees. Bees are dying off at a rate of about 30 percent per year, largely due to things like pesticide use in common agricultural products. Mikaila says her mission says to save the bees was inspired by their contribution to agriculture and their importance to the ecosystem.
She even includes honey flavoring in her lemonade.
"The three things I do with my money, even before I started with BeeSweet, was I give, save and I spend," Mikaila told The Dallas News. "So I give to organizations that help the honey bees or to church. I also save for things that I may need in the future like college or fun things that may cost more money and I have to save up to get it, or I get to spend on fun things for me, my friends or my brother like arts and crafts and toys."