"Would you like a free tissue flower? I made them and you can have one for free," said five-year-old entrepreneur Emmy Askew with an impish grin. She could afford to give a free gift. After all, she'd just made a handsome profit selling a cup of lemonade for $2.
A face of the future, Emmy's was one of the many lemonade stands stationed all over town this past Sunday as part of Houston Lemonade Day's program to "empower youth to create their own entrepreneurial experience by setting up and operating their own lemonade stands."
The program teaches children how to interact with customers, make a sale, close a sale, make a business plan, calculate profits and, ultimately, learn the value of a hard-earned dollar.
You may have seen one in your neighborhood, at Discovery Green, in front of your local grocery, or someplace where they knew they would be welcome, like at Ooh La La Dessert Boutique in Katy, where Emmy and her older cousin Jordan Murray set up their stand.
Dressed in cute hot-pink tutus for uniforms, the girls worked all afternoon to make gross sales of $385. After subtracting a cost of $80 for supplies, they learned that they'd made a tidy profit of more than $305. The kids get to do what they want with their earnings, but to teach them about philanthropy, their parents encouraged them to donate a portion of their profits Red Cross. The remaining funds were put away in savings.
At five years old, little Emmy had already perfected the art of cross selling. In addition to her lemonade business, she had a side business selling hand-made bracelets, which sold out quickly at the bargain price of 50 cents each.
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Ooh La La's owner, Vanessa O'Donnell, heard about Houston Lemonade Day through one of her regular customers and quickly signed up to be a part of it. In addition to volunteering her storefront for the day, all proceeds from the day's sales of her strawberry lemonade cupcakes were donated to Lemonade.org.
The coolest thing about Lemonade Day? Its headquarters is located right here in Houston. Through the program, families can sign up their children to participate on the website. More than 100 cities currently participate in this annual initiative, and their goal is to reach one million children across the US by 2013.