Busta’s Buddy of the Week: 10-year-old entrepreneur Laila Ratliff gives back to the community

Busta’s Buddy of the Week: 10-year-old entrepreneur Laila Ratliff gives back to the community
April 07
10:40 2022

By Busta Brown

You’ve heard the saying, “Be the change you want to see.” Ten-year-old Laila Ratliff is doing just that. “I want to see people stop judging each other by the color of their skin, the way they talk, or what they don’t have. Instead, we should do something to help them,” said Laila. 

The 4th grade entrepreneur owns Laila’s Lemonade and Treat Connection. Laila’s lemonade is freshly squeezed with over 22 flavors, such as Strawberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Cotton Candy, Mermaid and Unicorn. “When you taste them, it feels like something magical is inside of you.”

She uses the money from her lemonade company to give back to the community. The beautiful little princess has a heart of gold with a passion to help others. Laila’s mother, Lakisha Ratliff, shared a warm and beautiful story with Good Morning, America (GMA). “There was a family on the side of the road and Laila said, ‘Mommy, pull over. That family needs help.’” 

So, Laila decided to go a step further. She uses the money from her company to help families, like the one she saw on the side of the road. The young entrepreneur gives away blessing bags to the homeless. The bags are filled with toiletries, toothpaste, healthy snacks and water. She also gives clothes to residents at nursing homes. 

“My parents taught me to put God first with everything I do, and I know this is what God would want me to do.” She told Good Morning, America how giving back to her community is a blessing to her as well. “My heart is filled with joy because I love seeing the joy on people’s faces, and what I can do for them,” shared Laila. 

I asked Laila what role does a great education, discipline and excellent character play in the success of her business. Laila said, “It helps me see how hard I can push myself to be better in all aspects of my life and where my boundaries are.”  

Her parents, Lakisha and Derrick Ratliff, taught Laila a very valuable lesson about growing her business. “You must account for every dollar, where the money is going, and choose the right products. We also taught her that when you first start a business, you don’t get to pay yourself right away. You need to sow back into your business to keep it going. I’m very proud of how she loves to give back to our community. You don’t see a lot of kids doing that.” Her father Derrick added, “I’m very proud of her ability to maintain her business and keep it going.”

Laila is no stranger to success. In 2017, she received 2nd place in the Best Lemonade Stand in the Franklin County Lemonade Festival. On Saturday, April 2, she participated in “I’m a kid boss! Spring Expo.” 

Laila was baking cookies and cakes at the age of seven, so it was fitting for the A/B honor roll student to put some sweet treats on her menu. Along with her delicious and thirst-quenching lemonade, you have a sweet treat to go along with it. Cake pops, cookies, cupcakes, candy apples, candied fruit and more. 

The word is out about Laila’s Lemonade and Treat Connection. The business is thriving! But Lakisha said the heavy demand has caused a few challenges. “We had turn way orders due to the high demand and not having commercial-sized squeezers.” 

After Laila’s appearance on GMA, all of that has changed. The highly-rated TV show and State Farm gifted Laila with an industrial juicer and $10,000 to donate to the charity of her choice. “That juicer is amazing! It squeezes 1,500 lemons in minutes. Before it took forever. Now I can fill 100 bottles in an hour. I’m extremely grateful. My older sister has sickle cell and I’ve witnessed the struggles she’s gone through. So, I donated the $10,000 to Piedmont Health and Services and Sickle Cell Agency. I hope it helps with finding a cure for my sister and others that are battling sickle cell,” shared Laila. 

Where did Laila Ratliff get her entrepreneurial spirit? “I have a business, my husband has a business, and our older daughter. When she was six years old, she said, I wanna do something. My husband and I asked what she wanted to do. She said, start my own lemonade company. We were thinking something very small, like in the front yard. But Laila had bigger dreams,” said Lakisha.” 

“I want to grow my business. I want to have stores throughout the country. Along with a clothing line,” said a smiling Laila. What is the only thing that can hinder the 10-year-old’s business from growing? “My parents said my business can’t get in the way of my education. I maintain As and Bs. Getting a great education is very important to me, so keeping my grades up is the easy part.” 

Her advice to other aspiring youth entrepreneurs? “Be yourself, always follow your dreams, and stay humble and focus.” I asked the Fayetteville native to share the importance of respecting adults. “The Bible says honor thy mother and father, so I honor the word of God. I also encourage kids to respect all adults.” 

My mother would describe Laila as “adorable and sweet as pie.” And she would be correct. I also admire how very well-mannered she is, and her ability to carry the interview at such a young age. So, what does Laila do for fun? “I love to draw, paint and listen to music. One of my favorite singers is Rihanna, because she’s an entrepreneur as well, and that’s very inspiring. If I could meet any celebrity, it would Rihanna.” 

Who’s her favorite comedian? “My dad! He keeps me laughing. Any time I’m down, he makes me laugh. My mom is like a mama bear. Very comforting and strong.” 

At the end of the interview, Laila summed up her personal philosophy: “Even if I have to go without, I want to be a blessing to others.” 

My Phenomenal Buddy of the Week is Laila Ratliff. For more info, visit  or send an email to

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