11/15/22

With the weather getting colder it is getting quieter around the LOL headquarters. We had a few big orders go out last week and with the record breaking month we had last month, it was bound to slow up a bit.

We’ve got another fresh batch of Lavender, Strawberry and our Original, “Classic” lemonades freshly bottled and headed out to 10 states as we speak.

While we are forever grateful for the continued partnerships that we have maintained for the last 11 years, I can’t help during this time of year wondering if people will keep buying our lemonade. Frankly, the feeling comes in every time it slows down that we may be out of business just like so many other beverages over the years. It is the time that I remind myself that for the last 11 years we are still here, despite the slower days as the winter grows colder. While my logical mind knows that, the other side of my brain (that runs/ruins my life) continues to tell me otherwise.

With only 3 months left to pay off the last of the loans I borrowed to survive the Kehe distribution disaster in 2019, I am cautiously excited as I round the final corner to the finish line to extinguish all debt both personal and business. It’s been a long haul over many years, and quite frankly I am exhausted.

I am writing to you from our off the grid hideaway in the middle of Baja on the Sea of Cortez next to a small propane heater as I look out over the blue green sea blown with white caps from the strong north winds.

Fortunately, our little round casa did not have too much damage from the last hurricane that came through about a month ago, tho we can see our small retreat is showing signs of age as well.

I am grateful for all that I have been entrusted to me and taking time this week to rest, recharge and think about my path for 2023.

With gratitude …

Lori, Chief Believer, Lori’s Original Lemonade

Since 2011

We had a little mishap with the LOL cube last week- I lost power on a busy Ventura roadway, turns out the radiator blew and the car shut it self down… All is well, that is after I pay the mechanic a lot of money to fix it…

Looks like there is no slowing down for LOL. We blew out our projections for October  and had hit our sales goal by mid month! The team bottled up another 63k bottles of lemonade and we are restocked on what is proving to be our best seller, Strawberry Lemonade. Our signature drink Lavender Lemonade is sitting still at the top and we have been making it for over 20 years now. But, I do remember that when I launched it commercially that I knew we would be looking for adventurous customers and though we’ve found them, people always seem a tad bit hesitant to try the lavender. As we developed new flavors, I thought the strawberry would be too plain and ordinary, but our Wild Strawberry Lemonade is anything but ordinary. With the fresh lemon, fresh strawberries and organic cane sugar it is a delicious blend of citrusy sweet. (And a fantastic mixer) Last week I was still playing catch up after the Food Show and planning for 2023 and what we hope to accomplish. My goal is to keep moving us forward in a sustainable way, focusing on California local. We continue to source the best organic ingredients from our valued suppliers and hope that the supply chain problems are in our rear view mirror. These next couple of months will be about getting organized, creating processes, removing obstacles and becoming more efficient.

As for our life aboard – as we have been on land for 2 months now, we realize that living in the area/marina we were living was less than ideal. We found less people that were boaters and more people living on a boat to escape high rent costs. Everything has changed in the last couple of years. So, we are continuing to prepare the boat for some long term cruising, we ordered three new sails, including a huge spinnaker :), we got the life raft and secured it to the right spot on the cabin top, the new dodger is installed, epirb (emergency beacon tied to the coast guard in the event of a catastrophic event), and lastly a new roller furling for the staysail. The next big project is to re do all of the standing rigging…. Stay tuned.

And with that we wrap up the last of October. Hopefully my cube can make it another 4 months until we have the last of the bank loans paid off for LOL…

So, I appreciate you tuning in each week reading my ramblings as we continue to move forward in lemonade land and sea adventures that are on our horizon.

As always, we are here to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share.

Lori Volk, Chief Believer, Lori’s Original Lemonade

Since 2011

Its been a whirlwind of a week, setting up for the Jordanos Food Show, our valued distributor in Santa Barbara, tracking the supplies for the bottling this week, piloting our 41′ Sailboat in and out of the dock (for the first time!), and taking the 3rd Power Squadron boat handling class… Oh and somewhere along the line LOL turned 11!

Already Friday, and I’m pretty exhausted as I look back on this week. Besides a bunch of paperwork following the food show, I don’t feel that I accomplished a lot – That said, sales are up 27% over projections and we are only the middle of the month! And, seeing old and new faces at the food show was awesome! We are excited to be working with a bunch of new customers, restaurants, breweries, delis, and lots of other spots from the Tri-Counties.

Bottling of our signature Lavender Lemonade, Strawberry, and Original started in the wee hours yesterday morning way before the sun came up. We appreciate our co-packer partnering with us since we started back in 2011. The team they have is incredible, more than 90 families are supported every time a lemonade bottle is sold. The plant is alive with steam from the huge vats, the mixing tanks where all of our ingredients are blended together, and the clanking of the glass bottles as they line up on the conveyor belt. We purchase truckloads of glass bottles that are packed on pallets several dozen feet high! The subtle calming scent of lavender and the sweet smell of strawberries, mixed with the citrusy scent of our fresh frozen lemon juice makes me happy every time I’m there. We bottle 63,000 bottles at a time and each bottle is hand-packed into trays at the end of the line by three people! From there the lemonade case goes on the conveyor belt to be shrink-wrapped and loaded by hand onto the pallets, plastic-wrapped with each pallet weighing in at 2400 pounds they are picked up by the distributors :)

And on a personal note, I finally was able to get myself on the helm of our 41 ft sailboat and take her in and out of our slip a couple of times myself (Tom coaching)- with a 14′ beam and a few 26,000 lbs moving through the water, my only goal was not to run into something or someone – and I achieved that goal! ;) More practicing to come!

So, we are just plugging along in lemonade land as we move into fall. Spending time organizing the office, and my files and preparing to add some new customers.

With that, our mission is to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share.

Lori Volk, Chief Believer Lori’s Original Lemonade

since 2011

We are preparing for the famous Jordanos Food Show on Sunday and Monday at Earl Warren Fairgrounds in Santa Barbara. It’s been 3 years since they had it and I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and meeting new faces! I’m gathering up our supplies, the famous hat and basket I first took a picture with that have been printed on over 1.5 million bottles, the wood barrel I had made in Maine, the branded tablecloths, compostable cups made from plants, business cards, some handouts, branded coasters and of course lots and lots of lemonade! Our last event at Pier Under the Stars a couple of weeks ago made me remember how much energy I got from these events. But, by the end of the two days, I will be exhausted as I give out so much energy into every meeting that at the end it is just time to rest – I love talking about LOL and the progress we’ve made – and more importantly, I love connecting to our super supportive network of amazing customers. These customers are your local restaurants, cafes, markets, and other organizations that are all working hard on their businesses while they opt to support local. We appreciate this support as we know we are not the least expensive choice. We use only the highest quality organic ingredients, real organic juice not from concentrate, real organic cane sugar that has a nice warm caramel color leaving it tasting like honey in our lemonades. After 11 years of sourcing every item for my lemonades I realize just how much work we’ve put into finding only the best supplies and ingredients. Again, I thank all of our suppliers who have been with us since the beginning going above and beyond every month to make it all work – they have been my cheerleaders in the darkest of moments and have celebrated our wins every step of the way. It takes a team of hundreds of people to make LOL … Next week I will talk about my Oprah moment…

Until then, you can find us at www.lorisoriginallemonade.com

We are here to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share.

Lori Volk, Chief Believer aka “Lemonade Lady” Lori’s Original Lemonade

est 2011

It’s late already, 4:45 pm, I had scheduled time at 10 am today to write this newsletter and already the day has flown by. With a small delivery in Ventura, some errands, and a short detour to the boat for another coat of varnish, the day is slipping away. And in the middle of all of that, I’ve signed Tom and I up for another boating class as we prepare for some longer voyages. After being tethered to LOL for 11 years, it’s hard to think about anything else and being anywhere else at this time. We are just now hitting our stride, (knock on wood) with everything going pretty smooth as we wind down a bit for fall. Though, I have to admit that last year we did not see that dip in sales during the winter as we had in the past. I am not sure why yet, except that we have built a fantastic customer base that is very diverse and has increased our reach through customer referrals and our great distribution team. The fiscal year-end lull is real for me. Definitely the frenzied pace of summer is starting to let up and since I live for the adrenaline, it’s a difficult time. I start to question everything, starting the 12th year is about becoming debt free as a company, looking more at what we can do to support a larger mission, and still living the adventurous life that I want for myself away from l

lemonade land. While I say that mostly I push words around on the computer screen as my job, it really is the time away from my computer during our adventures in Baja, sailing, driving in my lemonade cube with the music blaring like a rock concert, or out on the trail that I find my inspiration for what we need to do next.

One thing I know is that I was energized last weekend with Pier Under the Stars an event we have been participating in for years serving our lemonades as one of the vendors donating our product to help fundraise for the restoration of the pier. Its the first event since we were all locked down and it was especially great this time to see all of our customers come back and say hi :) It never gets old when people ask to take a photo with me or ask about our story, surprised at how we started – I love that people share our lemonades on their most important life occasions – I have no words for how this makes me feel – We continue to source the highest quality organic ingredients for the recipe we have been making for over 25 years – 

And with that, I am finishing up on the order of the hundreds of pounds of fresh frozen lemon juice, organic cane sugar, bottles, caps, trays, labels,
and a few other items as we prepare to bottle again in a couple of weeks. Not soon enough as Wild Strawberry is out again! 

Our mission is simply to make the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share – 

Thank you,

Lori Volk, Chief Believer Lori’s Original Lemonade 

since 2011

It’s a warm and sunny afternoon here at the LOL Headquarters for writing the 4th edition of our weekly Newsletter. I am pretty amazed that I am sticking to my writing goal as my concentration and follow-through have been seriously lacking these past few months. Even though it is a beautiful day out there as I look through my office blinds, I don’t think I would rather be anywhere else right now. My desk is strewn with papers filled with numbers, profit and loss statements, sales summaries, and my calculator working over time as we close our 11th year as a beverage manufacturer. As I review the numbers I graphed them to just see visually our story over the last decade of the most intense times I have ever had. The highs the lows, and they show on the chart. My body feels pain as I look at the lines across the chart dip deeply in 2019 when we had a distributor take more money from us in erroneous fees that we couldn’t stop. We were spinning out of control, I was losing my company, with each order I sent out to them. I couldn’t pay my utilities at the office, so I started getting out my personal credit cards (again) to literally keep the lights on in the cold month of January. I was desperate. My co-packer said, “Just keep believing”… I was losing faith, I was hopeless – but I changed everything with one call – one early morning to the buyers, and with that one call I would forfeit over 360 stores that I had so proudly won. I would go on to let go of another 500 stores in the next 24 hours that weren’t making us any money. That was the deepest dip in the lines on the page I just printed. But, the next year we started coming back, and I see the line climb higher than ever, sales soared, but more importantly, I learned how to be profitable, and how to make money. It wasn’t a “hobby” anymore (I won’t forget that when someone told me that after 7 years of hard work) I was making money now and have been ever since. And in that desperate moment, we found another important person for LOL, Doug from Economic Development Collaborative. I thought we needed money, an investor, something.. but we were given Doug as a referral. And Doug who donates his time generously to this organization has helped us move from disaster to success and answers my call every month… always so that I can spend an hour plus talking about our wins and complain about my challenges. But, Doug has helped us navigate the most difficult times of my life as I build this company to be sustainable and learn more and more about how to run a business. Doug has helped me keep myself accountable to me and my goals for LOL. Many thanks, Doug, we couldn’t have gotten through this without your continued support. So, as I keep this small “Believe” stone that my youngest daughter gave me years ago on my desk, today it reminds me who I am – the Chief Believer –

I look to the future now, for what opportunities may come for the adventures we will find, because I am going to keep showing up because you never know what the next day will bring in LOL land, my favorite place to be.

Thank you for being here- we are here to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share…

Lori Volk, Chief Believer Lori’s Original Lemonade

lori volk

since 2011

Tonight I am comfortably sitting in our small apartment still adjusting back to land life after moving off of our sailboat home of 10 years. After deliveries today and loading up for deliveries to a new Albertsons in Goleta tomorrow (Thanks so much to Ahmed a wonderful customer of ours from Albertsons Calle Real), I remember even though I feel so alone most of the time that there are so many people that brought us to the 11-year point in business. One of my favorite stories and serendipitous moments is the opening of Whole Foods Oxnard, CA. We had only been selling into a handful of Whole Foods stores at the time, I would load up my car and make regular deliveries to a select number of Whole Foods stores that were willing to give us a chance. One of the receivers in the Venice store said to me, “I will know that you really made it when you aren’t delivering your own product anymore”. I remembered that for a long time as I would load and unload hundreds of pounds of lemonade, drive hundreds of miles every month, fight to keep my shelf space that I had fought so hard for, and hope that one day I could “make it” and have someone deliver our lemonades for us too. 

That first big break came for me during the hustle and bustle one day in a brand new Oxnard Whole Foods store getting ready to open in just days. The store that our community was so excited about and had waited so long for. I had been asked to bring in dozens of cases and was led to the end cap by the register. The end cap!! The most revered place in the store! I was so excited I was jumping up and down (as I did so much during my early lemonade days) and handing out iced cold bottles to all of the grocery team. I started building the display hoping I could remember what the Grocery Manager had told me on how to build the display. When I was finished I looked up at the massive display of my lemonade, my own creation. Something that was here now in the world, but hadn’t been before. And we were in this brand new beautiful Whole Foods store… it was completely amazing – I needed a picture of this! I looked up turning around to find someone to take my picture. So many team members all working hard opening packages, and boxes, setting up displays, but one person stood out. A guy with shorts and a t-shirt – I walked straight up to him and asked him if he could please take my picture. He smiled and said, “You must be Lori,” I said so excited and proud, “Yes!!” He said, “I told them to put your product here”. I looked at him more carefully this time and said, “But I thought the Grocery Manager was the one. Who are you?” And, without missing a beat, he said, “I am Robert Acosta, in charge of all of the Southern Pacific Region” I looked at him in disbelief… you see, this is the man that I had been looking for weeks. I knew if I could just talk to him and convince them that they could help me distribute our product on their trucks we could get to more stores without me having to go to every store myself. I will never forget his kind eyes, he said, “We can help you, bring your product into our warehouses, and you won’t have to do the deliveries anymore”. And in that one conversation, we gained over 30 more stores. And of course more happy tears, but at that moment I knew that maybe I had “made it” I found a distributor to help us grow. I am still so sad that Robert is no longer with us, but the people that he helped as he did us are all so grateful that he had the vision to bring local products to the stores and help as many new manufacturers as he could. It is for Robert and so many others that have helped us along our journey over the last 11 years. I am eternally grateful to all of them and you for taking the time to be a part of our adventures. 

Our mission is to bring you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share.

Lori Volk, Chief Believer Lori’s Original Lemonade 

lori volkest. 2011

It has been almost three months since Tom and I spent most of June exploring the Society Islands of the South Pacific on a trip we have waited too long to take. We set up our businesses to be taken care of by a competent team of amazing and hardworking people, packed our bags, charged our cell phones, and headed on a journey of more than 4000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to a small chain of islands located in the South Pacific. While we have spent most of our time exploring Baja and mainland Mexico over the last four decades, we hadn’t ventured out much further, except when I went to meet my Dad in Tonga while he was sailing solo around the world. We took modest vacations, mostly camping while we raised our three kids in Ojai, CA, venturing out only one time with them to Hawaii. After that, we spent the last several years paying off all of the Parent Plus Loans we took out to help our kids through college. Oh, and did I forget “Covid” took a couple of years as well?

But, as we stepped off the plane in Bora Bora, we realized that we really had waited too long. Decades have passed so quickly, raising kids, raising two businesses, we had forgotten how to really take a vacation. We felt so old as many honeymooners half our age filled the island. I wondered what had happened to all of those years I thought I had so carefully planned.  Now back on land after 10 years of living on our sailboat I am having some perspective on time and choices. I never thought I would be one of those “older” people looking back and saying “I wish I had traveled more” but here I am today at my desk saying that. Now, fair enough, we have had some great times and adventures on the high seas, in the middle of Baja, communing with whales in the remote lagoons of Baja … but – I look at my wish list of travel and realize its time to get busy – As we start to plan the next adventure there is something that is ever-present in my mind, making time for travel to faraway destinations is something that (for us) is a necessary element in our life and it won’t happen unless we make it happen. If I can serve over 1.5 million customers a lemonade that I created in my kitchen in Ojai, I certainly can get myself on a plane to our next destination. For me, it is that “life balance” element that takes as much thought, effort, and priority as setting up for my next bottling run of 63k bottles. So, don’t let that time slip, it is never too late to get those personal priorities on the calendar. 

And with that, I will get back to planning my next trip and while I am doing that I will make sure that we have enough lemonade to serve our amazing customers. As always, we are here to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share. For more information on where to find our lemonades visit us at www.lorisoriginallemonade.com

Lori Volk, Chief Believer – Lori’s Original Lemonade

since 2011

It’s another extra hot day this morning as I write this sitting from my familiar and comfortable space at the LOL Headquarters in Ventura. I am feeling grateful, but out of sorts as we have now officially moved off of our sailboat to our spacious one bedroom space on the water. After over 9 years that we have been aboard our current 41′ cruising sailboat, I do believe we have gone to the other side making it hard to transition from the sea to land. Although the conditions at the dock and surrounding area were less than ideal, we were born into this sailing business and with the wanderlust that was handed down by my sailing Dad who solo circumnavigated the world for 7 years, I was always called to the sea as the place of comfort and calm. But, during the last few years, our paradise was changed as I wrote last week. So, on to the next adventure, and I am counting my blessings as we now have a land space that we can retreat into when the world just gets to be too much. Lucky for us we still feel at home as we watch boats sail by, the sea lions bark (still all night) and know that we can still get down to our sailboat anytime we want, mostly to work about boat projects and get out sailing, out to the islands and beyond. And now, I can spend more time concentrating on LOL and our next big projects. Mainly plotting and planning how to expand our reach to get to more of our customers. 

So, while the expansiveness of 700 square feet seems like a lot of extra room, we are taking time to get used to our new surroundings. While we have nothing in the freezer except 1 carton of vanilla ice cream as we are getting used to the idea that we have a real refrigerator and now a freezer that isn’t the size of a 3 ring binder. (the boat freezer wasn’t cold enough or big enough for a carton of ice cream) The comforts, the strange sounds of the washer and dryer, refrigerator and water heater are all going to take some getting used to. So while we miss the cozy cocoon of the Taiwanese teak that surrounded us, we know that this is the right move for us at this time. But as always, change is hard. I think changing things up a bit every so often helps keep us on our toes, keeps life exciting and makes us step outside our comfort zone. We always have choices, some are harder than others, but there are always options – sometimes the right ones are harder to see…

For today, I need to fill my small lemonade refrigerator placed by my office door to make sure we have enough cold lemonade for all of the delivery people that come by our office! I always offer them a free iced cold bottle – because, our lemonade is meant to be shared :)

Thank you as always, we are here to serve you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share…

Lori Volk, Chief Believer

lori volk

Lori’s Original Lemonade, est 2011

lori volk11/15/21 9:02 pm Monday

Although the weather is still pretty warm, we have been slowing just a bit at LOL this last week giving us some time to catch up on filing and getting organized again. With the newest lemonade addition now launched and on its way, I am super happy to have a new delicious tea blend to add to our line. We have just finished up our 10th year – and I can hardly believe it.  I hardly remember what my life was like before LOL.  While I thought it would be the answer only to my financial problems and a way for me to help contribute financially to our family, it turned out to be more than I could have imagined.  I’ve met so many amazing people, won awards for my lemonade and myself by SCORE, CSUCI, Pacific Coast Business Times, NAWBO, Specialty Retailers Association, Beverage World Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, traveled to New York twice to accept industry awards, met Oprah Winfrey, Seth Goldman, Biz Stone, Malcolm Gladwell, John Mackey, Bill Bolthouse, Bolthouse Farms, Steve Demos, White Wave, interviewed by Maria Shriver for Good Morning America and more amazing things than I can list here. So I’ve been working on a book to recap the what is some of the craziest experiences that I’ve had along the way in my quest to own my own business, a dream I have had for decades. And when I thought I would never love business again after raising my three children and working for the local school district. I was fortunate enough to be laid off from my job so that I could find the tipping point in my life and create Lori’s Original Lemonade company. I am on track to release my book in 2022. A story in the making, of hard work, perseverance, dedication, surviving, and thriving during the pandemic. We will keep you posted on the launch and until then look forward to serving you the most delicious lemonades for you to sip and share.

Lori, Chief Believer

Lori’s Original Lemonade

since 2011