BY DEBBIE NAZARIAN, LEMONADE DAY NATIONAL DIRECTOR
This might be one of my most favorite times of the year when we recognize the hard work of our aspiring young business owners. This week, with the help of our awards sponsor Limoneira, we announced our Lemonade Day National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year as well as the first and second runners up.
This was a challenging year for Lemonade Day, but our City Directors, their staff and communities helped our aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their dream of running a lemonade stand. To address some of those challenges, the Lemonade Day National team introduced the new Lemonade Day My Way program giving our participants the options of in-person and virtual lemonade stand ideas. Some of our registered kids did both!
Michael Holthouse, Founder of Lemonade Day surprised our national winner, 13-year old Danyarelie (Danya) Ruiz during the recent National Lemonade Day Board Retreat with her trophy, cash award and certificate. We are so very proud of her and excited to see what she goes on to accomplish next! Our First runner-up, Kaydence Roberts from Fort Hood, Texas is 12-years old and is the owner of Puppy-Licious Lemonade. Our second runners-up are brothers Ja’Qub and Jaden Anthony from Ypsilanti, MI, owners of Brothers Lemonade. The National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year awards are sponsored by Lemonade Day’s national partner, Limoneira, who also contributed $500 in prize money to Danya, $300 to Kaydence, and $200 to Ja’Qub and Jaden.
Danya participates in the Lemonade Day Puerto Rico program and is the first Latina and Puerto Rican to win the award. Lemonade Day Puerto Rico was established in 2019 and to date, nearly 1,500 young Puerto Rican entrepreneurs have registered for the program. Danya planned and started her own lemonade business by registering in the program. Through the process, Danya learned to set goals, create her product and market it to run a successful business. More importantly, she learned to spend some, save some and share some of her profits.
In just a few months, Danya’s business, Lemonade by DM (Dream More), has established a loyal clientele and brand recognition. Danya has invested her earnings in computer equipment for her virtual education and has opened a bank account to save for sports-related travel. She also shared some of her profits to donate athletic equipment to a local non-profit foster home, Hogar Casa de Todos, in the town of Juncos.
Opening a business during a pandemic is risky, but it did not stop Danya. The young businesswoman adjusted her plan and adapted to the circumstances using social media to reach her clients. She delivered her regular and strawberry lemonades using her bike, by car with her parents, or through take out. Danya also obtained a permit to set up her stand next to a local food truck known as Pide que Hay. Her excellent command of social media coupled with the use of multiple points of sale helped her exceed her initial profit goals.
Danya tells us “This award is important because after a lot of effort, I can say that I achieved more than I had planned. I learned that sometimes you have to focus on small goals and enjoy each one of them, but the most important thing is to not give up…Sometimes we want to start a project but can’t find a way to take that first step. I thank Lemonade Day Puerto Rico and Centro CRECE for lending a helping hand through this learning path. I also want to thank the entrepreneurs who gave me the opportunity to sell my products with them and see the passion that drives the way they run their business. And, of course, I am forever grateful to my family who always believes in me.”
1st Runner-up – Puppy-Licious Lemonade: As a four-year veteran of Lemonade Day, 12-year-old Kaydence Roberts has taken her Lemonade Day lessons and developed a very successful lemonade stand model. She continues to apply the Lemonade Day fundamentals to her business. Each year she says she learns something new as she improves upon her business strategy. Over the years, Kaydence has shared most of her profits with the Copperas Cove Animal Shelter because she loves to help animals. This year, she redesigned her stand with the help of her grandfather to look like a doghouse. And as far as her future, it appears that entrepreneurial ambitions are rooted in her heart. Kaydence wants to create her own lemonade stand franchise business. She proudly exclaims, “don’t ever give up on your business dreams.”
2nd Runners-up – Brothers Lemonade: This is the second year that 12-year old Ja’Qub Anthony and his 9-year old brother, Jaden, have participated in Lemonade Day with the support of their parents. They had so much fun in 2019 that not only did they register for Lemonade Day 2020, but they also formed an LLC and created a web site to sell their lemonade and other products online. The brothers also wrote a book called “The Boys Who Never Gave Up.” They continue to win awards and have been offered opportunities to share their story and read excerpts from their book on the Black Men Read community Facebook page for local youth. In 2020, the boys pivoted their business strategy to include both in-person and virtual lemonade sales. Next up for Ja’Qub and Jaden is to start a clothing line called JJ Collections and a gummy candy business. They also are continuing to host their video blog called “Our Views On The News.” What is the boys’ advice to other kids? “Follow your dreams and never give up.”
Lemonade Day kids are amazing. Their creativity, drive and resilience confirm that our organization is truly making a difference in their lives. I love to watch them blossom and hear about their ongoing entrepreneurial journeys. I want to thank the Lemonade Day staff and board of directors, our City Directors and their communities, the parents, teachers and mentors who worked with the Lemonade Day participants and our partner, Limoneira. You are part of a movement to provide kids with socio-emotional learning and the tools that will make them successful for life. I am grateful you are Team Lemonade Day and look forward to even more successes in 2021.
If you would like to know more about Lemonade Day, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our national website, lemonadeday.org. As always, please share this blog with others whether it is parents, teachers, youth organization leaders, or business owners. We are always looking for mentors and sponsors who want to join us inspire and equip the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders!