That’s right LemonAid, a single purchase of her delicious beverage a percentage goes to help in the fight and recovery of child living with cancer. But that is not all
this little miss is doing. After her idea of creating a conference to promote change in communities. Girls for Progress is alive and we do not foresee this little rocket of charm and brains stopping anytime soon.
Jacquie Yo was able to catch up with her through her busy schedule to chat about her passions.
There is a young lady who is wise beyond her age who is committed to community and changing the lives of the youth in her hometown and across the states. She has been given a heart of gold and a mission to do just that. Making waves of changes through a single cool glass of her LemonAid.
F. As you started your supportive venture, what drew you to make the lemonade during your family gatherings?
AV. We usually have a few family and friend gatherings every now and then. When we have these gatherings we usually go all out with food and stuff. Having lemonade was just one of the few ways we make the gathering better! Most of my family loves lemonade and my dad had found a recipe for cucumber lemonade. I personally LOVE cucumbers and with lemonade made it seemed even better! At one of the gatherings, we made the cucumber lemonade and everyone loved it! Little did I know that the cucumber lemonade would be the starting point of my business.
F. Did you create these recipes yourself?
AV. We made the strawberry, orange, watermelon and regular lemonade recipes on our own by lots and lots of taste testing sessions with my family. I am always experimenting with new flavors and trying to make new recipes. The cucumber lemonade is the only one where we found the recipe online, but we adjusted it a little bit.
F. What is the best part about making these delicious batches of LemonAid?
AV. The best part about making the lemonade is definitely doing the taste test! After putting enough ingredients, the lemonade taste amazing! It usually takes a few tries but having a good quality product is my number one priority and hearing the good feedback from the customers is always great to hear! I always wanted my business to be taken seriously. I think a lot of times people see the lemonade stand and they don’t really know what to expect, so after they order a lemonade, and to see them come back 10 minutes later because they loved it so much is a great feeling. It really validates all my efforts to making a quality product.
F. Being that October was Cancer Awareness month, how has your business impacted this awareness?
AV. This season we donated at least half of all money received. October is cancer awareness month, but September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Since I donate to the local children’s hospital, I really focus on trying to make a big push in September. This September we did something pretty amazing, and all the money received went to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to help kids with cancer. I also got a donation from my flag football league which added to the donations as well which put us at over $1,000 in donations from just June October 15.
F. That is great news Aleena! Well done little Queen. Your sale totals are dedicated to a percentage being donated to your cause, but I must ask, how did Girls for Progress begin?
AV. I had the idea of doing Girls For Progress a few years ago. In September of 2015, I attended an Inbound conference in Boston, Massachusetts since my mentor Amy Jo Martin was speaking there. Her talk was about changing Pretty to Pretty Damn Rad and how us as girls and women can change that narrative of being more than just pretty. While I was there, I was able to listen to her and to many other amazing women speak about empowering girls. At the end of the conference I left feeling inspired to do more. I really wanted to bring that same feeling to girls my age so they can feel that way too. This all inspired me to have a conference, and the first one was in Arizona to empower girls around my age. I told my parents and Amy Jo Martin about the idea and they were completely on board. They loved the idea and said they would do anything to help! That’s how Girls For Progress all started!
F. Seems as though your mother has been a huge influence on your willingness to help others and your father creating a space for you to think as a business owner and mentoring you to succeed, tell us, what is the best part about your parents and family being involved with your passion?
AV. The best part about my parents being involved with my passions is knowing that they will support me no matter what. They are always there to give me advice and support me no matter how hard the task is. If it’s school, sports, or the conference. They were always there to help me along the way. They support me, but also challenge me. When I started my lemonade stand, I had to put a PowerPoint presentation together and present it to them. It was really a business proposal because I needed $300 in start up money to buy the ice shaver for snow cones, snow cone cups, a website, and a banner. The presentation had to address start up costs, cost to make product, projected sales, and a projected pay back date for the loan. My parents support me, but they also make me work hard for everything which sometimes is challenging but in the long run the opportunities and experiences have paid off.
F. I would have to agree, the pay off have been superb. Have you meet any of the children you have helped? How did you feel after meeting them and witnessing your impact in their lives?
AV. Unfortunately I am not able to see the direct impact from my donation. I know that the donation goes to games, books and toys at the cancer floor of the children’;s hospital, but I am not old enough to get on the cancer floor to volunteer or donate items directly. Currently the age to do that is 15. I am currently exploring options and working with some other organizations that allow me to have more direct contact despite my age. I am able to see the impact from the conference though. I have kept in touch with some of the girls who attended Girls For Progress and they always tell me how they are doing and how inspiring the conference was for them! I love being able to see that they are now also inspired to do more.
F. If there is a will, there is a way, I am certain that you will find it. Do you share your story and mission with your classmates or other girls your age? If so, how do you affect their lives?
AV. At school I really don’t share too much about the conference or what else I have going on. My friends and classmates do follow me on social media though so they keep up with everything and always congratulate me and support me when I have something going on. For my first conference here in Phoenix, I did partner with the superintendent of my school district so they could bring about 50 girls plus parents to the conference. When it comes to out of school though, I usually love to share my story. I do this through social media or events that I’m able to attend that I share my story. Usually everyone is pretty shocked when I tell them I do all of this at the age of 13. I think it is important for girls to know they can make an impact on their community at any age. I have always been told by my parents that you are never too young to change the world. I want everyone to get that same message too.
F. Who empowers you to continue making a difference in the lives of others?
AV. My friends and family are who empower me to keep going. They are always there for me and are always there to support me. Also knowing what I do makes an impact on others really drives me to keeping going too. Hearing girls tell me how inspired they are to do more after a conference and then seeing it through their social media is an amazing feeling.
F. Are we to expect any new LemonAid flavors? Can I share a flavor profile...Blueberry Lemonade it is my favorite :)
AV. Yes! You can expect new LemonAid flavors coming soon! We can also try making a blueberry lemonade for you :)
F. Yay! That would be incredible. Do let me know when this batch is available. Before I let you go, If you had one wish, to help others throughout the world, what would it be?
AV. My wish would be ending hatred. There is an awful lot of hate now a days and it’s not helping anything at all. I wish it could all just end and would like people to treat others they way they want to be treated. It sounds simple and I feel like it is something we have all been taught since we were young, but for some reason it seems to be tough. We are all human, everything else is secondary. For now, we need to just spread love and kindness. A simple compliment or a friendly gesture can have an unforeseen impact on someone during the day.