Chelsea and Jade’s Lemonade stand
My name is Jade Thompson and I am 16 years old. Five years ago, unexpected events led to what I now call my entrepreneurship: “Chelsea and Jade’s Lemonade.” It was the summer of 2011 that my sister, Chelsea, and I were hosting friends and cousins from the Caribbean. We wanted to attend a church sponsored carnival event but my mom said there were so many of us that the cost was outside her budget. She suggested we raise funds ourselves by erecting a lemonade stand in front of the house.
It was a good idea, but before we raised $40 some neighborhood kids down the block stole our idea and we lost sales because we lived on a one-way street and vehicles passed the other kids and purchased from them before getting to our stand. My sister and I were upset, disappointed and frustrated. My mom then suggested we move to the intersection at the end of the block, thereby, attracting potential buyers from the crossroads. It worked splendidly!
We were able to raise funds for that event and even contribute excess funds to our church. Since then, our lemonade stand has become an annual event. We sell lemonade and “adopt a bill” from our church, which enables us to pay the phone bill, electric bill, or contribute to the winter heating bill for the parsonage. We are taught to give back when we get.
The lemonade stand has been a positive experience. It teaches me discipline, hard work, and economics. It makes me industrious and enterprising. It also keeps me off the streets. In summer, I have no time to be idle. During the day, I sell and in the evenings I can be found baking cake and cupcakes, cookies and brownies, and stirring lemonade and iced tea as part of the next day’s inventory. I am delighted when customers tell me I sell the best lemonade in town.
Last year’s donations helped me to attend a phenomenal educational conference in Boston hosted by the Congress for Future Science and Technology Leaders. I met students from around the country who also aimed for academic excellence. The keynote speakers were inspirational and I developed a new sense of confidence.
In preparation for next year’s symposium, I launched another fundraising initiative. I collect recyclable water bottles. I was surprised at the amount of support I received from my community. People called for me to pick up bags of bottles from their homes and others made monetary contributions to encourage my efforts.
Still, the lemonade stand is my best pet project. I advertise on Facebook at the start of summer to remind my regular customers that I am back in business. While my lemonade stand is a great way for me to earn a few extra bucks during the summer, I love most that I get the opportunity to interact with my customers—my beloved community members. To me, the best part of my day is placing a cupcake in a toddler’s tiny hands or seeing a woman smile at my compliments on her hair or blouse. I find it funny and heartwarming that on the days I do not sell, my customers would complain how much they missed me and my refreshing lemonade or cake.
By running my own business, I have learned to smile whether sales are good or bad. Many times a person who rushed past me early in the day comes back saying, “I'm sorry I couldn't stop earlier, but I just had to come back around to support your great spirit.” Even police officers would purchase the occasional water bottle or pastry. I always hope that when people stop by the lemonade stand I can improve their day either with the product or with the happy grin of courteous customer service.
Chelsea and Jade’s Lemonade stand is now an iconic landmark off Wilson’s Woods and Beechwood Avenue in Mount Vernon. It illustrates how many things can be accomplished through the combination of work, community, and charity. Young people should not be underestimated. I’m surely proof of that.
(l to r) Jade and Chelsea Thompson