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The lemonade business sells purposefully at Tiger Stadium.

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The Advocate by Timothy Boone

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) — The last three years have been great for Leroy’s Lipsmack Lemonade.

The business began in 2012 when six-year-old Leroy Hayward III attended Lemonade Day Louisiana, an annual event that teaches kids to be entrepreneurs.

Leroy’s parents Sherilyn and Leroy Hayward Jr. learned that Leroy has autism and wanted to find out what their son could do. They decide to set up a lemonade stand in their front yard, have Leroy sell her drinks, and donate a portion of her proceeds to doctors at New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

“He loved the idea of ​​handing out lemonade,” said Sherilyn Hayward. “And he really liked taking the money to the hospital. … He felt better about himself.

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After selling drinks from tents at festivals and in front of stores for several years, Haywards began selling lemonade by the gallon three years ago. Leroy’s Lemonade is now sold at 36 local stores including Rouse, Tony’s His Seafood, Hi He Navor, Calandro’s and BetR.

There are also kiosks at Tiger Stadium, Pete Maravich Assembly Center, and Alex Box Stadium.

“We had Tiger Stadium on Leroy’s vision board,” Hayward said. “We were like, ‘Once you get in there, the children think of all the money he can give the hospital people.'” So we sent the email. ”

Hayward had no contact with LSU. She sent her email to the Concession Department. A few months later, she received a call from the concession manager asking for a meeting.

“I was asked if there was a kiosk,” she said. The Haywards family gets Leroy’s college funds to buy the kiosk. In 2017 he increased from one place in the stadium to five.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the family started selling 16oz lemonade bottles.

“We had to stay afloat,” Hayward said. “A gallon is expensive, so we figured if we could make something cheaper, people would have it and always have it.”

The family now sells about 300 gallons and 500 cases of lemonade per week. All drinks are made, bottled and stored in a small office on the Boulevard of Industry Triplex in Baton He Rouge. The office is decorated with Leroy’s photo and houses all sorts of lemon-printed items.

Leroy’s Lemonade is an all-natural lemonade made with water, sugar and freshly squeezed lemons. Along with business objectives, the quality of the drink has enabled growth.

“We donate to Children’s Hospital, helping children with special needs like Leroy,” Hayward said. “Lemonade is what we use to make this happen.”

The business has grown from about $30,000 in revenue in 2019 to $213,000 in 2021, Hayward said. They are on track to hit $660,000 this year. The workforce has grown from just a family to his 12 employees.

“We are doing a lot right now to inspire parents of children with special needs,” Hayward said. “I’ve been talking a lot with different organizations and telling mothers who have children with special needs or children on the autism spectrum to never give up on them. What a dream to do that!” I didn’t even think

Business success presented an opportunity for Haywards. The family was invited to participate in a small business pitch contest sponsored by the National Urban League. Hayward won last month’s event for $10,000.

The funds will be used as a down payment for two refrigerated trucks. This will allow Leroy’s Lemonade to be sold in New Orleans and other states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.

“There are already some grocery stores that want it in those locations,” Hayward said. “Rouses also gave us a list of some locations.”

This allows businesses to double the amount of lemonade they sell. Hayward said he hopes the expansion will take place early next year.Plans are also underway to relocate Leroy’s to a new location in North Baton He Rouge.

Business also helped Leroy. Hayward is now more open to talking and interacting with people, he said. One of his big moments was when he went to see Tiger at his stadium kiosk for the first time and people approached him.

“A lot of people didn’t give him special treatment. At that point, I thought he said he was like everyone else,” she said. If nothing else happens, that’s enough for me.”

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