Lemonade Day teaching sweet life lessons to budding entrepreneurs




Posted on May 2, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 6:25 PM

DALLAS — Simpler days and slower times. That's what a lemonade stand probably brings to mind. But, a pleasant memory from the past is now teaching lessons about modern times.

"We're going to sell lemonade, lemon squares," said Debrial Thomas, a 13-year-old 7th-grader participating in the Dallas debut of Lemonade Day, a nationwide program that has made its way to North Texas.

"We have registered over 1,000 kids," says Peggy Bessellieu, the director of Lemonade Day in Dallas.

Sunday, kids will set up their stands across the city after months of serious work and planning.

"First we had to go through the rules and regulations and figure out what we needed and what we could and couldn't do and where we were going to set up," Thomas said.

Thomas and Destiny Mathis, a 14-year-old 8th-grader, are both in the mentoring program at Mercy Street, an outreach center in West Dallas. Mentor Joy Robertson guided them through the Lemonade Days program by helping the girls draw up business plans and a budget, even recruiting investors who gave them loans.

"We even had to sign contracts, like grown people" Thomas said. "We came up to them, we shook their hand, we stated our name and our business name, and independently what we wanted to do while we're earning the money."

Thomas reenacted the sales pitch.

"We want you to invest in our lemonade stand," she said. "Our lemonade is unique because we’re using different flavors, and a little spunk to it and that will be better than everybody else's."

She said the hardest part of the process was budgeting. 

"We had to come up with a specific price," she said. "And what if we got the wrong price and couldn't afford our supplies?"

Both girls said they've had fun, gained confidence and learned business lessons.

"That's what means so much to me," Bessellieu said. "They're getting it and learning their life-long skills. We encourage them to spend some of their profits, save some and share some.  So, not only will the entrepreneurs benefit, but the whole community will in many ways."

Robertson said she's seen Mathis, Thomas and their third business partner flourish.

"We talk about life stuff and business stuff," she said. "Things like customer service and budget.  so it's real life and relationships. We think of mentoring as building leaders in West Dallas and I think building up leaders means acquiring skills. There's excitement for learning when it comes to this program."

A partial list of locations and times of lemonade stands can be found at dallas.lemonadeday.org

The girls from Mercy Street got one of the prime locations. They'll be setting up shop in Trinity Groves, the trendy new restaurant row in West Dallas near the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. There will be stands in Highland Park Village and Klyde Warren Park, as well. 

A panel of celebrity judges, including Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, will determine the best tasting lemonade during a contest at 2 p.m. Sunday.  The winner will have their lemonade served in a Trinity Groves restaurant run by entrepreneur Phil Romano.