40-Year-Old Mom Running Lemonade Startup Hopes Kids One Day Think, ‘Wow, She Did Something Pretty Cool’

By Greg Trotter
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Mompreneur Melanie Kahn markets “Poppilu” as a guilt-free lemonade with less sugar than many competitors. Aronia berries, also known as “black chokeberries,” add an antioxidant boost and a pink hue to the drinks.

Chicago Tribune

Melanie Kahn says she founded Poppilu, a new lemonade brand, after experiencing a powerful craving for citrus while pregnant with her daughter, Poppy.

Poppilu is one of five brands in Kraft Heinz’s new Chicago-based incubator for startups — and the only one owned by a woman.

Kahn isn’t bashful about being a 40-year-old mother of two young children, despite the harsh reality that entrepreneurship often favors those who are young enough to have nothing really to lose.

“This is obviously a very personal business. … I do this business in large part so I can have flexibility with my children,” Kahn said. “I have to embrace the fact that this is who I am.”

Kahn is not a newcomer to the packaged food industry. She’s worked stints as a brand manager at Kraft Foods, Sara Lee and Beam before all three companies merged with other firms.

More recently, Kahn was vice president of marketing for Fairlife, the filtered milk brand distributed by Coca-Cola — an experience that gave her a taste for the startup life.

She markets Poppilu as a guilt-free lemonade with less sugar than many competitors. Aronia berries, also known as “black chokeberries,” add an antioxidant boost and a pink hue to the drinks, Kahn said. Poppilu is sold in 550 stores throughout the Midwest, including all 187 Jewel-Osco stores.

Wearing a bright fuchsia shirt as a nod to her products, Kahn explained both the challenges and opportunities for her startup. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why does it matter to you that you’re the oldest entrepreneur in the Kraft Heinz incubator and also the only woman?

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