In 2011, budget cuts forced Lori Volk out of her job in the local school district. With three kids in college and bills to pay, Volk thought back to the unique lavender-flavored lemonade she had made for her kids’ lemonade stand when they were little. She decided to bottle and sell her lavender lemonade, along with other flavors such as ginger, lemongrass and wild strawberry.
She started by selling Lori’s Lemonades locally, in Ojai, California, and quickly expanded to Lassens, Whole Foods, Vons, Pavilions and other stores, along with numerous cafes, independent markets and restaurants.
She has persisted through lemon and lavender shortages, cash flow issues and other challenges to build a thriving business selling her one-of-a-kind products.
Volk says SCORE mentors Joe Hausenbauer and Robert Tongen have been instrumental in guiding her through the process of funding her first production runs. She says, “They were giving me a crash course in business on the fly. But each time we met, though I was exhausted, they always ended the meeting on a positive note. I really felt as though they were my personal cheering team and they genuinely cared about my success.”
Volk has now sold more than one million bottles and has met and shared her story with Oprah Winfrey, Bill Bolthouse of Bolthouse Farms, Silk Soymilk founder Steve Demos and Balance Bar founder Dick Lamb.
Now in her sixth year in business, Volk sells five flavors of lemonade and has donated thousands of dollars worth of the product to local community fundraising events and programs. Her product is sold in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Volk has been named a finalist in the 2018 American Small Business Championship.