OWENSBORO, Ky. – A 2019 Owensboro High School graduate is finding sweet success in a business that started as an idea to help pay for college.
Fresh out of high school, Elizabeth Williams started selling fresh lemonade last summer. She coined her entrepreneurial venture "Squeeze-E’s Lemonade" and operated her new business from beneath a pop-up tent, which she set-up at festivals and other large community events in the Owensboro area.
“I’d always seen [lemonade stands] at the barbeque festival and stuff like that and was like, it’s done well, but I think it can be done a little better. So, I wanted to put my spin on it,” Williams explained.
All of the drinks on Squeeze-E’s menu are lemonade or limeade based, and range from classic fresh-squeezed lemonade to signature drinks like “Ocean Water," a Powerade-infused refresher. The beverages are served-up in gigantic plastic cups that are sealed and shaken before eager customers take a sip.
In just one year, her business has upgraded from that first pop-up tent to a horse trailer, something her grandfather helped renovate and customize into a trendy mobile food truck. The clean, white trailer is topped with marquee letter lights that spell out “lemonade,” an aesthetic that creates an Instagram-worthy photo-op for customers.
Even with Squeeze-E’s physical upgrade, Williams has stayed true to her original motivation of funding her education. The business has been so successful that the pre-pharmacy major is starting her second year at Samford University, where tuition alone is more than $32,000, debt-free.
“It’s definitely not what I was expecting but here we are,” said Williams, adding that she plans to continue returning to Owensboro during the summers to run Squeeze-E’s.
If her success is any indication, Williams’s “spin” on lemonade has been a refreshing twist for customers, many of whom follow Squeeze-E’s Facebook or Instagram account to find out when and where they can get their next drink
“We have some very loyal customers,” said Williams, adding that she enjoys seeing customers share photos and videos of Squeeze-E’s Lemonade on social media.
Williams’s success has not been without struggle. This year, the coronavirus pandemic forced her to revisit her business plan after nearly all events were canceled due to efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
“Everything started getting canceled and I was like ‘Oh no, what am I going to do?’ So, we’ve kind of had to go outwards and think private events instead of big festivals,” said Williams. “It’s honestly been a lot of fun … it’s really just expanded our horizons.”
Determined to succeed, Williams spent the summer doing private weddings and birthday parties. Squeeze-E’s was also a regular at the Owensboro Farmers Market.
It’s that resiliency that makes Williams a true "girl boss" – adapting to challenges and proving even the sweetest of endeavors take grit.