Some kid-entrepreneurs might decide to fold when the realities of a thriving business start cutting into after school fun. But Armani and Amaya Jefferson of Summerville, South Carolina, had a bigger purpose driving them: their little sister, Taylor. Soon after Taylor was born, she was diagnosed with the blood disorder sickle-cell anemia. Her big sisters wanted to not only raise awareness but raise money to combat the illness. So, Mani and Maya drew up a plan and presented it to their mother, Desiree Hamilton, for fruit and lemonade stand. Like many sidewalk enterprises before them, friends and neighbors found themselves enjoying Mani & Maya’s Fruity Treats on a regular basis. However, unlike other run-of-the-mill lemonade stands, the Jefferson sisters found their supply could not meet demand. Mani & Maya’s Fruity Treats had to grow, and quickly!
Growing The Business
Summerville, like most of the Southeastern U.S., is hot in the summer and warm in the winter, so the sisters knew a refreshing treat would go down easy. Because they wanted their treats to stand out, they decided to add a frozen element to the well-worn lemonade idea. They discovered frozen lemonade, fresh fruit, and other fruit-based snacks were best-sellers to the humid Lowcountry’s customer base.
The Jefferson girls began to campaign, with the help of their mother, on social media and in the local community. They created branding for their products and came up with new fresh fruit and yogurt recipes to test out on their customers. Local businesses began to take note, inviting the sisters to sell their fresh treats out of their markets and restaurants. Since starting the business in 2018, Mani and Maya have participated in local and national fundraisers for sickle-cell anemia, as well as trade shows for kid entrepreneurs. According to an interview with Charleston WCSC, Maya, the younger sister, is the business manager and Mani, older by a year, comes up with the recipes.
Treats For A Cause
Summertime is the busiest time for the two, and some of the proceeds from their sales go to the Medical University of South Carolina’s Sickle-Cell Clinic. So great the demand has become for their lemonades, fruit smoothies, and fruit snacks, they have even started a mail-order service where their treats can be shipped nationwide!
Sickle-cell anemia is a rare condition, primarily affecting African Americans in the U.S., and causing pain, fatigue, and other symptoms in its carriers. Sickle-cell promotes a mutation of red blood cells, causing them to grow in the shape of a sickle. This irregular shape affects blood flow and, consequently, the flow of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Those who suffer report debilitating pain and are often hospitalized during a pain crisis. For adults with the disorder, sickle-cell is difficult to manage; for children, the symptoms are not only painful, but disruptive to school, friendships, and playtime. When Mani and Maya saw how much time their baby sister had to spend in doctors’ offices, with IVs in her tiny hand, they knew they wanted to do something for Taylor and all of the kids living with sickle-cell.
All of the hard work these preteens have put into their business is worth more than the financial rewards they’ve reaped. In the end, as they posted on their Instagram, “When you support us, you, too, are supporting the fight against sickle cell! Please continue to support, and research this disease as we feel its awareness is not publicized enough!! Fight For Taylor!!!💪🏾”
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