She’s a young entrepreneur with Down Syndrome and a bigger-than-life personality, and she’s determined to chart her own course. Seventeen-year-old Lilly Eikermann knows firsthand how hard it is to find meaningful employment for kids like herself, but she refuses to let that stop her.
In 2021, using a golf cart and supplies donated by the St. Louis Blues, she started a mobile snow cone business selling throughout her neighborhood. Before long the demand for orders was outpacing what she could deliver.
With the help and support of Lake St. Louis businesses and her family and friends, Lilly’s Snow Cones opened last month at 8621 Highway N in Lake St. Louis. And for Lilly, it’s been a life-changing experience. St. Charles County City Lifestyle magazine spoke with Lilly’s mom, Stacy Eikerman, about her daughter’s incredible transformation.
HAS LILLY ALWAYS BEEN THIS DETERMINED?
As soon as she turned 16, she wanted to learn how to drive, and she always wanted to run a business like the ice cream man. So we kind of combined the two.
HOW HAS RUNNING HER BUSINESS CHANGED HER?
She became much more confident and started making friends. She also started managing the girls’ soccer team at her high school and they love her.
HOW DOES LILLY BALANCE SCHOOL AND HER BUSINESS?
She only goes to school part-time during the school year because they don’t provide her with classes I think are beneficial to her. They mainly focus on picking up trash and things like that.
WASN’T THAT HARD, KNOWING SHE’S CAPABLE OF MORE?
Yes, in high school, they never asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and never focused on that. Few people with disabilities have an opportunity like this. In fact, only three in 10 people with intellectual disabilities are employed. But we’re working to change that narrative.
HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT?
By offering employment opportunities to teens with and without disabilities, showing our community that we’re all more alike than different, especially when it comes to showing the many talents these very capable and special individuals possess.
THIS EXPERIENCE SOUNDS LIFE-CHANGING?
It’s had an immeasurable impact on Lilly’s life. It’s helped her social and speaking skills. She’s in charge of almost everything. She sits through interviews deciding who to hire, works the register making change, and is learning inventory, payroll and placing orders, plus she runs a regular shift.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR LILLY?
She already has plans on franchising on the beach in Florida and, of course, she would run that stand.
“Few people with disabilities have an opportunity like this. In fact, only three in 10 people with intellectual disabilities are employed.” ~Stacy Eikermann