Funding a cure: Twelve year old Juliette Jones turning lemons into leMoNaiD

At eleven years old, Juliette Jones was faced with the tragic loss of her grandfather, Nonno, who passed away due to Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Motor Neurone Disease is known in many parts of the world as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which became widely known in 2014 during the viral ice bucket challenge. MND is a degenerative disease, for which there is no cure. Profoundly affected by the suffering and loss of her Nonno, Juliette felt driven to create an enduring and ongoing legacy – CSJ leMoNaiD.

Named after her mother (Claudia), Nonno (Sam) and herself, CSJ leMoNaiD aims to “fund a cure for Motor Neurone Disease and help inspire Australian kids to stand up and have a voice for what they believe in.” Juliette created her own leMoNaiD recipe, and went beyond the streetside lemonaid stand to business owner, selling leMoNaiD every Saturday at Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market, Ramsgate Public School in Sydney.  Juliette plans to grow her business further, by bottling her leMoNaiD to be sold in schools, which will fund a full time researcher at the MND Research Facility at Macquarie University.

At Omika, our first and most important value, is “GIVE: Be generous towards others and yourself.” We recently met with Juliette, to talk about CSJ leMoNaiD. Be sure to watch her video below and fund CSJ leMoNaiD! If you’re in Sydney, be sure to visit Ramsgate Organic Foodies Market!

Juliette, can you tell us a bit about your Nonno and what you loved most about him?

He was very loving and funny, he had a kind heart and brought our whole family together. He was my Mum’s best friend, they always had a special bond with each other and we all miss him a lot.

What is your favourite memory of your Nonno?

I remember my Nonno’s stories the most. He would tell us all stories of his life and what he learned from his experiences. There were many, but the one I remember the best is about how he only had one pair of shoes growing up, his family was very poor and lived in a small village in Italy before and during WW2.

His father would only allow him to wear his shoes to church once a week. Even in winter, he went barefoot in the snow because he wasn’t allowed to get them dirty. Then one month he had a growth spurt and only got to wear the shoes once! So he would tell us to wear your good shoes, don’t keep things for a special time, get out the good glasses, invite your friends for a party today, because you might not get an opportunity tomorrow.

In addition to selling leMoNaiD at Ramsgate, you also create and sell other products – can you tell us a bit about these?  

Everything we sell has lemon as the main ingredient. Both savoury and sweet. That’s the beauty of lemons, they are so versatile and healthy.

We wanted to make products that people wouldn’t have the time to make themselves at home but were special and required skill. So we decided to make REAL home made products people can buy from us and enjoy at home, just as if they’d made them themselves, with love and no nasty stuff!!

For example, we make lemon tarts, from scratch. The pastry and lemon curd are from an old French recipe given to me by my Mum’s friend. I’m the best at pastry, so that’s my job – I’m called the Pastry Princess. My Dad is best at curd, so that’s his job – he’s called the Curd King, and my Mum is best at making leMoNaiD so she’s called Lady leMoNaiD. We all pitch in so the work load doesn’t bog one person down with more responsibility than the others. It makes it fair and the jobs get done quicker while being much better quality because we work to our strengths.

Tell us more about your plans to bottle leMoNaiD – what has been your biggest obstacle in getting CSJ leMoNaiD into schools?  

Money, bottling a product is extremely expensive.

What do you hope to achieve by selling leMoNaiD in schools?

I’d like kids to become more aware of Motor Neurone Disease, it’s such a cruel, pointless disease and we will be the next generation to deal with it. It’s a scary thought, but MND is becoming more and more prevalent in the world and it must be stopped. I also want to offer kids a healthy alternative to sugary drinks. No one can tell us why people get MND so I don’t want to create something unhealthy that could contribute to it.

Do you ever have moments where you feel discouraged?

Yes, of course! Setting up the stall and packing it all away can be very stressful sometimes, particularly when we were just starting out.

What do you do to push yourself through it? 

I just ignore it!

It must take a lot of effort, love and determination to give so much of your time to a cause that is so close to your heart. Can you tell us about the support you have around you?

My parents are my biggest supporters, they work in my business absolutely free so more money can go to finding a cure for MND. They help me work out all my problems, even when it gets stressful. And they let me dream big!

I’m also a member of The Entourage founded by Jack Delosa. He’s helped us learn how to be better entrepreneurs and taught us “how” to dream big!

Starting your own business and raising funds must be a significant learning experience – can you share with us the three most valuable lessons you’ve learnt?

  1. If you find something you are passionate about, just do it, start it, learn it, before you’re ready. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.
  2. Don’t listen to negative people, because there are ALWAYS people who will tell you, you can’t do this or you can’t do that, but what do they know? Who made them the experts? No one! Because as William Ernest Henley wrote “you are the master of your fate, and you are the captain of your soul.” Oprah told me that, not personally of course LOL.
  3. Your vibe attracts your tribe. Since starting my leMoNaiD stand, some of my friends have stepped up to volunteer to work with me. And it’s always the same people, the best people! They give their time selflessly because they believe in “why” I’m doing what I’m doing. And I know they will always be my friends because we share a love of kindness.

You have many years ahead of you – what do you hope to achieve in the next ten years? 

I’d like to start teaching other kids who want to become entrepreneurs for charitable reasons how to do it, to create a movement that will help change the world into a kinder place, and one free of MND!

Is there anything you would like to add?

Adults should take kids seriously, because they are a great force for good in the world!

Help turn lemons into leMoNaiD, by sharing Juliette’s story, or funding CSJ leMoNaiD at http://www.csjlemonaid.com/.

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