AKRON, Ohio — What started as a fun summer activity in their front yard for five Akron siblings has grown into a viable family business. Having just become an LLC, 4 Bros and a Sis Lemonade is looking for a storefront in the family’s Ellet neighborhood.

What You Need To Know

  • 4 Bros and a Sis was launched four years ago as a front yard lemonade stand and now, they sell their sweet treats in their yard and online and have an LLC

  • The kids started the summer with 170 social media followers—that number has jumped to nearly 3,000

  • Mayor Dan Horrigan gave 4 Bros and a Sis five stars on the city’s Twitter page

The young company also uses profits to give back to the community through special events.

Led by mom and lemonade-maker Brenda Knowles-Swain, the company is run by Troy, 14, Brandon, 12, Jordan 10 and Chase who’s 7. Sister Armanie Whiting, 22, cheers her brothers on.

“The kids have always been motivated and always wanted to work because that’s what they’ve seen,” Knowles Swain said.

It all started four years ago when she set them up with lemonade stand in the front yard of their West Akron home. The kids enjoyed it, she said, and it allowed them to make money for fun activities and school clothes.

But two years ago, the endeavor suffered a set-back that turned into an opportunity.  

A neighbor complained about the kids operating the stand in an empty lot. Turned out, it was a city lot that required a $100 permit per day. The stand was closed down.

Word got out and the community mobilized, with people offering everything from their front yards to cash to help the kids keep turning out the sweet summer beverage.

4 Bros and a Sis also started getting invitations to participate in festivals, flea markets and other community events.

As the business grew, more flavors were added, as was sugar-free and honey-infused lemonade. The kids also offered concessions like hot dogs, chili dogs, popcorn funnel cakes and snow cones.

Two years ago, the family moved across town to Ellet, where the stand is now right on East Market Street. Customers from neighbors to bus drivers stop by, which prompted the kids to add lids, and more sizes: there’s a $1 cup, a $3 cup and a $6 souvenir cup with free refills.

With the pandemic, the boys were forced to be home this summer so they worked the stand.

“This summer really showed who they are,” Knowles-Swain said. “They were out there to four days a week all summer. It was a way for them to still be a part of the world, the community, and it kind of took off from there.”

At the beginning of the summer they had about 170 followers on their social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Now they have nearly 3,000 followers and take orders for cups, pitchers and gallons though their Facebook page.

“We have the best lemonade in Akron, for sure, and excellent customer service,” Brandon said. “We keep everything very clean and neat.”

For fun, 4 Bros and a Sis started advertising free lemonade for a day to groups like firefighters, nurses and Amazon workers.

On a hot day in mid-August, they offered their products for free to Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and LeBron James.

James didn’t show, but Horrigan did. His favorite flavor? Pineapple mango. The mayor also gave 4 Bros and a Sis a five-star review on the city’s Twitter page.

The day after the mayor came, the lemonade stand took in nearly $1,000, Knowles-Swain said.

But the boys aren’t just savvy entrepreneurs, they’re young philanthropists.

They teamed up with Kenny Lambert of Just a Dad from Akron. Lambert, of Kenmore, uses a portion of profits from his clothing company to fund giveaways, free food events and other activities that benefit the community.

The story goes that Lambert looked up the boys out of the blue one day, after hearing about 4 Bros and a Sis from a friend. His timing was right: Knowles-Swain couldn’t find a company that could turn T-shirts around quick enough for a TV appearance her sons were set to make.

Lambert showed up at their door the day before the interviews, with his own shirts to give the boys.  When he heard about their dilemma, he went home and stayed up late making the boys personalized shirts to wear on TV bearing both brands’ logos.

“He came first thing in the morning to bring them hot off the press,” Knowles-Swain said. “We love his logo. We love what he’s doing, so we asked to collaborate. He supports us, we support him and it’s like family now.”

Since then, the two companies have joined forces for a candlelit “Stop the Violence” event, and a back-to-school give-away of over 200 back packs filled with school supplies and clothing. Also, 4 Bros and a Sis gave away free lemonade at a “Feed the City” event during which 500 free meals were handed out on Kenmore Boulevard.The kids are back to virtual school now, but their hope is to find a storefront in Ellet where they can expand their menu to hot and cold drinks and sell their concessions.

In the meantime, 4 Bros and a Sis is still waiting for LeBron James to show up.

And, if he does?

“We’ll give him free lemonade,” Brandon said.