Interview conducted by Chanèle McFarlane
Photography by Keidi Janz

Since launching our blog, we’ve had the opportunity to feature the stories of some of Toronto’s most inspiring women who have all made proverbial ‘lemonade’ in the face of adversity. But, you didn’t think we could go without finding a woman who took things literally, did you?

When Jill Fisher was handed a lemon, she launched Lighthouse Lemonade, a refreshing beverage created using an original family recipe!

Although she describes said recipe as nice and simple (there’s only six ingredients!), there’s nothing simple about the success that Jill has achieved. Lighthouse Lemonade has become a go-to beverage for Canadians across the country - in fact, it has even been served to greet some of Canada’s most prominent guests, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Ottawa on Canada Day 2011! Now, how amazing is that?! (P.S. We’re excited to share that anytime you come to our office, you’ll be treated to unlimited lemonade, courtesy of Lighthouse Lemonade!)

Here’s Jill on moving forward, building a solid business and remaining positive throughout it all:

Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade? 

I was a stay at home mum with 4 children & my marriage collapsed. I don't cry over spilt milk. It was upwards & onwards so I started Lighthouse Lemonade, with the help & support of my children.

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After that first year, how did you scale your business and continue to grow?

With 4 kids at home, I scaled my business up as they left home for university, one by one. It was a slow process, but you only get one chance to raise your children. Building the business slowly & methodically allowed me to develop a very solid foundation for my business. It made me keep my blinkers on and keep focused on my vision for Lighthouse Lemonade.

How do you measure success in your career?

This is a multi-faceted question...

a. Gaining brand awareness is huge.  

b.Helping empower students who make up 100% of our workforce (lemoners) is incredibly rewarding.

c. Product sales ultimately is what drives Lighthouse Lemonade forward. It isn't, in my mind, the most important thing to me but it cannot be overlooked.

d. Being able to be a successful small business while always maintaining sustainability as a core value.

"I am very persistent and like to see things through to the end. If there is a barrier in my way I go over it or around it. I don't look back."  

How much of your success as an entrepreneur has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Often you have to throw your heart over the fence then leap over to get it. There are no rewards without risk.

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You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?

I will go off on my own away from people and go over what I'm going to be discussing. I have an intense focus so I don't like to be disturbed.

Was there ever a moment that you questioned your decision to become an entrepreneur? How did you overcome it?

All the time! However, I would not be happy or content playing by someone else's rules. This is what keeps me moving my business forward. I have created something out of nothing and have had amazing support from family, friends and especially professionals in the food industry.

What is the last investment you've made that has made your life better?

A good bike!

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What is your biggest professional pet peeve?

People who don't put their money where their mouth is.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am afraid of snakes.

What would you say has been the biggest mistake you've made and how did you rectify it?

I am a very positive person and tend not to look at negatives. I am very persistent and like to see things through to the end. If there is a barrier in my way, I go over it or around it. I don't look back.  


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