Local family-owned business uses state competition award to accomplish big goals
BATON ROUGE - Leroy’s Lip Smack’n Lemonade is a small, family-owned business that won a big statewide competition this week.
The woman-owned company is using the award to expand operations in hopes of accomplishing their goals.
Residents can find Leroy’s Lip Smack’n Lemonade in many grocery stores across Baton Rouge.
“We are in all of the local stores,” said Sherilyn Hayward, owner of Leroy’s Lip Smack’n Lemonade.
It all started from a lemonade stand with Leroy Hayward as the boss.
Leroy was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Hayward, who is Leroy’s mom, used this stand as a way to inspire her son.
“We wanted him to know that your special needs does not mean you're limited, and you're going to be able to do some special things,” Hayward said.
Now, Leroy’s Lip Smack’n Lemonade is all over the Capital City, and it’s not going unnoticed. The company recently won the Urban League of Louisiana’s Women in Business Challenge.
“We're just proud of everyone, but, of course, proud of her as well for being able to just bring the judges on board into her story and what it is that she's trying to accomplish,” said Lori Jackson, Director of Women’s Business Resource Center for the Urban League of Louisiana.
Hayward was one of four finalists for the statewide competition. The finalists pitched their company’s goals and plans to a panel of judges.
“I pitched our vision because I have a clear, concise mental picture of where we want to go,” Hayward said. “We want this lemonade in every local grocery store in every state in the United States.”
With the $10,000 award from winning the Women in Business Challenge, Hayward plans to do just that.
“It started the process because that's going to help us because we needed a down payment,” Hayward said. “That's where the $10,000 is going to go. So we actually have the bottle line.”
While Leroy is a pro at labeling bottles by hand, an automated bottle line will increase production, so they could make more lemonade and distribute to more stores. They used the money to cover the down payment for the bottle line.
But Hayward’s main goal is to encourage all parents with children like Leroy.
“It's not so much lemonade,” she said. “We want to have the world see that, 'look! We have these young adults, these children working in this business. They have special talents.'”
When life gave her lemons, she and her son made “lip-smacking” lemonade — and look at them now.
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