Today, Rostinn and Ti’Ani Mitchell woke up around 5am and headed out the door for some walking and jogging. Starting every day with a clear mind is important for this mother-daughter duo. “CEO” reads 12-year-old Ti’Ani’s shirt, while Rostinn’s reads “CEO’s Mom.” They’ve been making waves in Cedar Hill (and beyond) with what might seem like a simple Saturday activity—selling lemonade. As a Girl Scout, Ti’Ani wanted to entice people to stop and buy cookies, and offering lemonade seemed like the perfect fit, but when demand grew, Rostinn and Ti’Ani realized they had a potential business on their hands. They participated in the Kidpreneur Expo at St. Philip’s School and Community Center to sharpen their business savvy and ended up repeatedly winning awards. We sat down with Ti’Ani and her mother to talk about Ti’Ani’s accomplishments and plans to give back to her community.
DFWChild: Tell me about LeMonADE with Love. Ti’Ani Mitchell: LeMonADE with Love started with Girl Scouts… Most people give us $5, and most Girl Scout cookies cost $4. So that $1 can go toward lemonade. But the lemonade is also on the table to bring people to our table. It wasn’t a business at first. It was just something we used to play with, and when most people coming asked for the lemonade instead of the cookies, we knew we had something.
Child: How did St. Phillip’s help y’all? Rostinn Mitchell: We only went there with a few jars of lemonade not knowing what to expect. Later on, we found it was a competition. She won first place the first year. We were just going to get knowledge on how to run a business and how to get our name out there. So they invited us to come back the second year. [Snaps.] Won again. Then we went again last year. We won second place this time. We never came here to compete. So to be here and winning every year, that says a lot our product and her humble spirit.
Child: How do you prepare for these expos? TM: Well before I go to the expos, I go in the mirror, and I tell myself, “You’ve got this; you’ve got this.” I believe in God, so I say this saying: I can do all things with strength in me. So that’s what I use to encourage myself. And when I go there, I also use people who hate on me or say I can’t do it, I use that as energy. That doesn’t affect me. It just helps me more to do my business. RM: The night before, we literally spend a full day preparing for that one day’s event. TM: Five pitchers makes one cooler, and we take two to three coolers. RM: On top of that, we do the mason jars, and we take those full already. We do the 32-ounce jars. So we’re pumping out 60–70 gallons of lemonade for those expos.
Child: Have there been any hard times? RM: [St. Philip’s] had an event a couple months ago where all the winners were able to come back to a room. One of the guys there actually told us… “Ugh, you’re going to have to do something else because nobody cares about 25 flavors of lemonade. So you’re going to have to dummy that down.” That just killed my spirit, you know? He said our business wasn’t a very lucrative business. He said, “But what makes yours so much different from everybody else who does lemonade? Everybody does lemonade.” From the back of the room, I could see [Ti’Ani] from the back, and it was like somebody took a pin and stuck it in a balloon, and the air was just seeping out slowly. I just saw her whole demeanor change.
Child: How did you bounce back? TM: I looked at my mom, and she said, “Don’t you stop believing in that lemonade. You got this.”
Child: Any future plans? TM: With all the money, I want to put it into a building, and I want to make the building a home for homeless women, kids and men, and they can stay there as long as they need because most homeless shelters, they just tell them they can stay there for a couple of days, but then they need to leave. Or most homeless shelters, it’s not for women and men and children; it’s for women and children. I want them to feel it’s their actual home.
Child: Is there a reason that’s what you want to do with the money? TM: Yes, because every year we go to this event where we pass out food to homeless people, and it’s hard seeing how those people live. RM: It’s called The Purse Project. We do it every year [with Girl Scouts]. Each girl is responsible for filling the purse with items that women, children and men may need. For the men, we do backpacks, but for the women, we do purses. We take them out, and we pass them out to certain areas of downtown Dallas. The first year that we did it, a classmate that I used to go to school with recognized me in giving. But when I saw the friend in that predicament, it touched me to where I had to sit [Ti’Ani] down just to show her I used to roll with that kid and look at where they are. So that just kind of sparked something in her. So one day, she said, “I know what we can do. We can take my money and build a transition home. Maybe we can hire people to teach them life skills.”
To try some lemonade that’s made with love, contact Ti’Ani and Rostinn on their Facebook and Instagram pages. You can buy any flavor (25 and counting, including tropical, spicy watermelon, blackberry, black cherry limeade and pineapple) for $12 per gallon. They also sell sweet teas and an adult flavor called Twisted Lemonade that is $22. All the flavors come in a sugar-free version too. Can’t decide? Ti’Ani’s favorite flavor is peach.
If you’re out and about, you can also find their lemonade at Winner’s BBQ (in Cedar Hill and Plano) and Meijays Creole Cooking (a traveling food truck).
Search “LeMonADE with Love” on Facebook.
Image courtesy of iStock.