During Black History Month, it is customary to celebrate the achievements of the black Americans who played a part in the success of the greatest country in the world. These are individuals from the past who worked tirelessly to have a positive impact on a country that didn’t always have their best interests at heart.
But it is also necessary to highlight those who are also making great strides in the present. Black Americans are still making contributions to American society, and we have an inspiring example in 15-year-old Mikaila Ulmer. The teenage entrepreneur started a lemonade stand in Austin, Texas ten years ago. This lemonade stand eventually became a Me and the Bees, a beverage company that manufactures lemonade that is sweetened with honey.
Ulmer’s business has taken off in the following years. Recently, Texas grocery chain HEB began selling her beverage. Kroger’s recently announced that they would also carry her product.
The young entrepreneur espouses a movement titled, “Black Girl Magic,” which seeks to empower young black women. “Black Girl Magic is the ability for African American females to push past the restrictions that are set upon us today and show us that anything is possible,” she told Fox 7. “You can be an author, entrepreneur student no matter what the color of your skin is or what your gender is.”
Ulmer also explained the pushback she received as she was starting her business. “There were people that doubted me and my ability to grow Me and the Bees when I was first getting started,” she said. “You’re a kid. Maybe when you become an adult we’ll support you, or we don’t want to put funding in you quite yet or you’ll never be able to make it into Whole Foods. But honestly, that just motivated me even more to face those challenges and take them head-on.”
The teenager stated that she was inspired by successful black women who helped her grow. “My great granny Helen because she gave us the recipe for flax lemonade, Mrs. Michelle Obama because I got to visit her at the White House because she realizes the importance of honey bees, Miss Leslie Wingo because she did the branding when we were a really small company and just starting up,” she said.
According to Ulmer, one of the reasons why her company is successful is because it has a purpose beyond making money. Along with selling lemonade, the company is fighting to protect the existence of honeybees worldwide. But even more than that, she wishes to create more black entrepreneurs like herself. “The population of Austin, Texas is definitely not majority African-American,” she said. “I’ve watched my neighborhood and a lot of them are moving away from Austin, I think it’s important to provide funding for African-American entrepreneurs here in Austin as well as local Texas companies.”
Ulmer’s story is a fascinating example of black Americans who do not conform to the image that the media presents. Even better is the fact that she is not alone. Many black entrepreneurs are succeeding in America despite what the left wants us to think. While racism can be an obstacle, it is not so rampant that blacks cannot succeed. Is there more work to be done? Certainly. But the situation is improving, and hopefully, the rise of more black business owners can close the wealth gap.
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