If You Promise to Sell Hope in a Bottle, You Better Deliver

10-year-old @vivienneharr sells more than lemonade: she delivers hope in a bottle #givingside

Two years ago, eight-year-old Vivenne Harr’s homemade lemonade stand was a lot like countless others dotting the cul-de-sacs of suburban America: a makeshift wooden structure just sturdy enough to hold up a cooler of her grandmother’s lemonade, a few plastic cups, and the toolbox where she stashed her earnings. But Vivienne wasn’t just working for pocket change.

Photo by Vivienne Harr

Inspired by a photo of two Nepalese boys with rocks strapped to their heads, she’d vowed to raise $100,000 to free as many child slaves as possible within a year. Just 173 days and $101,320 later, it was clear that the lemonade stand she’d been setting up and tearing down every single day, rain or shine, was just the beginning.

For a lot of small business owners, the transition from start-up to scalable success can be a challenge. Like many company founders, Vivienne controlled nearly every aspect of her business—from dreaming up a mission statement to squeezing organic lemons.

This kind of relentless determination helped lead to Vivienne’s initial success, but it also limited her ability to affect real change. Vivienne didn’t want to make a dent in the child slave trade. She wanted to eliminate it. The first step? Trapping her hope in a bottle, so customers around the world could support her cause.

Photo by Vivienne Harr

Together with her parents and a small team of devotees, Vivienne raised $1 million and founded Make a Stand Inc., a for-profit charitable company devoted to ending child slavery in our lifetimes through the sale of fair trade, organic “lemon-aid.” But as her father Eric puts it, “The beverage business is hard.”

First, the team had to figure out how to bottle up that homemade concoction. Then they had to source a lot more wholesome lemons, raspberries, and sugar. Once they managed to make enough product to meet demand, they had to find a way to distribute it to online shoppers and over 150 grocery stores in Texas and along the West Coast.

But, as Vivienne says, it’s only grown-ups who “see the obstacles. Kids just see what must be done, and we go and do it.” Rather than letting logistics topple her start-up before it had truly gotten off the ground, Vivienne and her team reached out to UPS for tailored expertise and logistics solutions.

It can be difficult for a company’s founder to step away from its daily operations. But to grow, founders need to be able to focus on the innovation that made their businesses special in the first place. Programs like UPS CONNECT, which builds on the the same kind of streamlined services that Make a Stand relied on, simplify processes like shipping, tracking, and billing—giving entrepreneurs the time to dream big.

Photo by Vivienne Harr

Today, Vivienne’s lemonade stand has grown into a B Corporation, with five percent of net revenues directed to leading organizations working to eradicate child slavery. Vivienne is 10 years old now, and in her spare time, she’s published a children’s book and given motivational talks at Twitter, Google, Square, LinkedIn, and the United Nations. One of Town & Country’s 50 Most Influential Philanthropists in America, Vivienne has seen her corner lemonade stand support a lot more than plastic cups and pocket change.

One day, she hopes every one of the world’s 18 million child slaves will be free enough to chase their own big ideas, should they so choose.Advertisement

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

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