On Lemonade Day, District students get a lesson in loans, marketing and profits


Paul Charter School seventh-grader Jonathan Clarke prepares for Lemonade D.C. with George Washington University students John Kopriva and Emily Massel. (Jeffrey MacMillan/JEFFREY MACMILLAN)

Lanandi Addison, 13, wants to open a skateboard shop after college.

But she’s starting with a lemonade stand.

Lanandi and her business partner, Ariyon Lee, both seventh-graders at Paul Public Charter School in Washington, were among 1,000 District students preparing to set up lemonade businesses on Sunday. The name of the duo’s establishment: Lemonade Parade.

The students spent weeks learning about entre­pre­neur­ship. They secured investments (in Lanandi’s case, a $75 loan from her father), created budgets, picked out locations and came up with marketing plans.

Lemonade Day, a program that began six years ago in Houston, has grown to include 150,000 fourth- to seventh-grade students in 36 cities. On average, each student-run stand brings in about $100 in profit. This is the first year the District has participated in the program.

“The thing that’s really special about Lemonade Day is that kids get to see how things they learn in the classroom translate to the real world,” said Emily Massel, a sophomore at George Washington University, who organized Lemonade Day D.C. “The education system just doesn’t do a good job of making that connection and tapping into a student’s entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lanandi and Ariyon originally planned to set up their stand on the National Mall. But after difficulties securing permits, they decided to relocate to the GWU campus.

“You have to plan and budget your money so nothing will mess you up,” Lanandi said. “If a problem occurs, you need to have a back-up plan.”

Massel partnered with Jim Clifton, chief executive of District-based polling firm Gallup, to organize the event. She recruited hundreds of mentors, including area entrepreneurs, PNC employees and GWU business students, to help the young students develop their business plans.

Area restaurants including Morton’s Steakhouse, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Co. hosted stands.

“It just sounded like a great way to encourage young entrepreneurs,” said Debbie Silverstein, a spokeswoman for Rocklands, which encouraged participants to sell lemonade outside its Glover Park restaurant.

At a mentoring session last week, students came up with elevator pitches for their businesses.

“Our stand is going to stand out because we’re going to sell chips and play music,” said Rahmash Persaud, 12, a seventh-grader at Paul and co-founder of RL Lemonade.

“And we’re going to have a custom motorcycle,” said Lloyd Hardy, Rahmash’s business partner. “It’s my dad’s, and people can pay $5 to get their picture taken with it.”

The challenge, mentors said, was to get participants to think creatively. Each lemonade stand would be competing with 300 others throughout the city. Students had to make their business stand out from the pack.

Some student groups decided to sell raspberry- and strawberry-flavored lemonade. Others, chips and bottled water. Lloyd, 12, settled on something else entirely: hand-drawn portraits of customers for 50 cents.

“The more different stuff you have, the better,” he said.

There were still a few things left to figure out, though. Peter Joyce, a senior majoring in economics at GWU, asked Lloyd how he plans to pay back his mother, who is investing $60 in the venture.

“The plan is that I don’t pay her back,” he said.

Joyce talked about the importance of maintaining good relationships with investors. After some prodding, Lloyd decided he would pay back his mother with 5 percent interest.

In another part of the school, seventh-grader Thomas Robinson made big promises to potential investors: “I will give you half of my profits,” he said in his business pitch. “And you will get discounts every time you come.”

Nationally, students in previous years have given about 25 percent of their profits to charity, Massel said. Lanandi and Ariyon, the pair behind Lemonade Parade, decided to put away their earnings for a future venture.

“We’re going to see if we can set up a bank account for our money,” Lanandi said. “And after we finish college, we’re going to use that money to open up our skate shop.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section.
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