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An inspiring business: Fighting childhood slavery with lemonade

Vivienne Harr

A child entrepreneur shares how she launched her business and offers tips for others wishing to make a difference in our world.

A couple of years ago, Vivienne Harr, then 8 years old, saw a photo of two boys with big rocks strapped to their backs. They were living in modern-day slavery, and it made Vivienne cry. She couldn't get the image out of her mind. What if she and her little brother were slaves? Would anyone care? Was anyone willing to help the estimated 18 million enslaved children throughout the world?

She used her grandmother's recipe to open a local lemonade stand to raise money to fight childhood slavery with a goal of raising $100,000 within a year. It took 173 days to raise the money.

She decided that she would try to do something to help.

"Compassion is not compassion without action. It's just feeling sorry for someone. So, I vowed to make a stand," says Vivienne, who is now 10 years old – and a business owner.

She used her grandmother's recipe to open a local lemonade stand to raise money to fight childhood slavery with a goal of raising $100,000 within a year. It took 173 days to raise the money.

Little did she know that her lemonade stand would very quickly grow into a beverage business, Make A Stand Inc., which donates 5 percent of its sales to the fight against childhood slavery.

The business has taken off – and inspired many. The company is one of the first 850 B Corporations in the world. B Corps, "Benefit Corporations," are certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. The company now sells various flavors of bottled lemonade (certified organic, U.S. grown/fair trade, GMO-free) in 130 stores.

Just two years after first seeing that life-changing photograph, Vivienne was included in Town & Country magazine's "50 Most Influential Philanthropists in America" issue and was invited to present a featured TED Talk.

Compass recently talked with the young entrepreneur and her father, Eric.

Compass: What challenges did your business face early on and how did you overcome them?  

Vivienne: Beverages are really hard. We had to overcome a lot of challenges. But when you are facing in the right direction, and you know you are doing the right thing, you can turn challenges into good things. And we sure have! We will never give up. Make A Stand isn't just our name. It's how we do things.

Compass: Was your age an obstacle?  

Vivienne: Actually, no. In fact – no offense to grown-ups – but they see the obstacles. Kids just see what must be done, and we go and do it. So being a kid and thinking like a kid has really helped. There are no more limits anymore. You can be 8 or 88 to make a stand for what you believe in.

Compass: Did you have a mentor?  

Vivienne: My family supported me from the first day. They could have said, "Oh, honey, just do your little lemonade stand for a day." Instead they said, "We're with you all the way!" We just never imagined how far it would go!

Compass: Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  

Vivienne: Mostly no. Because helping others always gives me energy and makes me happy. The other times, yes – the media and stuff can be a lot. But I am grateful for all of it. They are amplifying my voice for the 18 million kids without one.

Compass: Why do you use UPS?  

Vivienne: Well, that's easy. UPS is helping carry our dream of freedom across America – by delivering our bottles of hope to people. Oh, and my favorite color is pink, and pink and brown go beautifully together.

Compass: What advice do you have for others?  

Vivienne: Start with your heart. Find what you love. Plant your feet and stand firm. Oh, and have fun. You've got to have a lot of fun!

Compass: Any suggestions for those who want to start a B Certified company?  

Vivienne: You can do well [businesswise] as you do good. And people really want their purchases to matter, so they will support your company. Plus, B Corps are just so awesome, and there is a great friendship among them, I have learned.

Compass: What do you want to be when you grow up?  

Vivienne: I want to be the first U.S. secretary of peace and the best mom I can be.

You can follow Vivienne on Twitter: @vivienneharr.

Do you have a small business? Get free access to dedicated resources and expertise, consulting support, exclusive offers and technology through UPS CONNECT.  

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Reader Comments

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Frans M. Didier
Children are fearless. Great job
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Terrence Davis
Vivienne Harr is AWESOME!
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Ruby Price
This is a marvelous story! I wish more people were like Vivienne. I hope this story reaches and inspires many people. It has inspired me today!
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