The Sweet-Tart taste of success

Writer: Mathany Ahmed
Photos: Duane Tinkey

Ahmed and Rita Musa

What started as an ordinary lemonade stand turned into a thriving family business.

Eight-year-old Rita Musa, like other kids her age, found inspiration while scrolling through TikTok. She spotted a lemonade stand.

Her brother Ahmed, 25, spotted an opportunity. With his business acumen and her youthful energy, he figured they had the keys to success. “Every time I have an idea, I jump all in. I’ve got nothing to lose,” Ahmed said. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”

They set up their first booth during the Drake Relays in 2022, in the parking lot of Platinum Kutz, a few blocks from the stadium.

They aimed to offer customers an elevated experience with a recipe inspired by their family’s roots in South Sudan, where traditional lemonade isn’t as tart as most American versions. “Imagine being 8 years old, home alone, hanging out with your friends, trying to make lemonade to drink. You can taste the sweetness of it,” Ahmed said.

Within two hours, they sold out. Within two months, they expanded their business to the downtown farmers market, where they were selling 500 pouches of lemonade every weekend. The demand prompted the family to transition from pouches to cans, with an eye-catching design to represent the family. Its vibrant colors and patterns mimic the siblings’ mother’s traditional dresses from South Sudan, where civil war prompted the family to flee to the United States 24 years ago.

The Musas donate 7% of their lemonade profits to support refugees. And one day, they hope to expand the business in South Sudan. “We want to help that economy and infrastructure, to hire employees and make it international,” Ahmed said. “I want to sell in all 54 countries in Africa.”

In the meantime, he’s pleased with the venture’s growth so far. Packaging the lemonade in cans smoothed out the production and opened up new opportunities for wholesale and retail. Since launching the cans in October, they’ve sold more than 3,000 to local food trucks and events. The Musas are marketing to local grocery stores next.

Ask either of the young founders, and they agree: Confidence is a key ingredient, as important as lemons and sugar. “You have to invest in yourself,” Ahmed said. “If you won’t invest in yourself, why would anybody else invest in you?”

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