Spring, 2013
Sustainable Community

Hanna Kang Lim ’98
and Mark Lim ’97

From middle school sweethearts to parents, to thriving entrepreneurs, the Lims are a proud part of the Prep community

Hanna Kang Lim ’98 and Mark Lim ’97 met as middle schoolers at Flintridge Prep and have been best friends and sweethearts ever since. They were married in 2006 in front of a crowd of Prep friends and faculty. Today, almost 20 years since they met on campus, the Lims are parents of three, run a thriving business, and are more a part of the Prep community than ever.

“Prep is like an extended family for us,” Mark says. “I think the feeling I got from attending Prep is, ‘We’re not going to send you off on your own. We’re in this together to prepare and groom you not just to succeed academically, but to go through this journey together.’”

It is because of these family-like ties that the couple has felt so compelled to give back to their alma mater. The Lims are consistently a presence on campus, warmly welcomed by the faculty members who have known them since they were a young couple on campus, Mark a basketball star and Hanna a cheerleader.

Midge Kimble, dean of students, has known the Lims since they were middle schoolers, when she was their science teacher. She watched them grow and mature as high schoolers and has loved seeing them at reunions as the major milestones pass—college graduation, engagement, marriage, then children.

“I remember Mark used to sing Hanna love songs,” Kimble says. “I think that because they both went to Prep, and they met here, the school serves as a foundation for their family. They’re both so willing to be involved as alumni, and that is such a great thing.”

The Lims are Phonathon volunteers and regularly attend reunions and alumni events. Mark is always a much-appreciated forward on the Alumni Sports Day basketball team. Through their business, Lollacup, the Lims are helping Prep students learn about starting and growing a small company. Colleen Bissner, co-director of alumni relations, says the Lims’ willingness to give back makes them special. “The Lims are a perfect example of connected alumni who stand as role models for our current students,” she says.

Sustainable Community

What is Lollacup?

The inspiration for Lollacup came to Hanna when she could not find a good straw cup for her first child. “I had this idea for a modern, stylish straw sippy cup,” says Hanna, who has extensively researched the speech- and dental-related benefits of teaching young children to sip from a straw.

At the time, Mark was working toward an MBA in entrepreneurship at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and he advised Hanna to research her idea and look into how to manufacture the perfect cup. If the idea still seemed viable by the time he was done with school, the couple would try it as a business venture.

In 2009, Lollacup was launched. The Lims found a local manufacturer who helped them craft a sleek, BPA- and phthalate-free cup that incorporates a straw with a weighted end, allowing a child to sip from the straw even when the cup is tilted.

Seeking financial support and exposure for Lollacup, the Lims took their product to ABC’s Shark Tank, where Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and business mogul Robert Herjavec teamed up to invest in the business. When searching for a place to host a viewing party of the episode with their friends and family, the Lims immediately looked to Prep. They hosted dinner on the patio where they used to lunch as high schoolers, and a crowd of supporters in Norris Auditorium watched the Lims pitch their product on national TV. In her Lollacup blog, Hanna wrote, “It was so nostalgic and special to be on campus for this event.”

Fueled by buzz from the show, the cups have taken off. They have been featured on MarthaStewart.com, in US Weekly, People, Parent & Child, on CBS’ The Talk, and The View. Parents love the thought that goes into the design of the cups, as well as the fact that the Lims insist on using clean materials and require third-party post-manufacture testing for extra safety assurances.

“When we were making this product, we always had our daughters in mind,” Mark says. “We’re very conscious that these are being made for and used by children.”

Owning a unique business provides the Lims with a special opportunity to educate Prep students interested in entrepreneurship. The Lims offered to serve as career mentors as part of PrepExchange, a college- and career-focused program that involves students, alumni, and parents. As well, they are part of the first-ever PrepExchange one-day shadow internship this spring. The program provides juniors the opportunity to experience real-world careers that interest them, as well as to foster lifelong relationships with fellow members of the Prep community.

Hanna and Mark will show interns how they handle every aspect of running a business—from keeping the books and managing employees to product development, public relations, and marketing.

“A lot of young people have that entrepreneurial spirit,” Hanna says. “It doesn’t necessarily hit them what the day-to-day is like.”Bissner says the Lims will provide priceless insight to students by showing them the ropes of entrepreneurship. “We are so fortunate to have them as part of our Prep family,” she says.

The Lims counter that they’re happy to help the school that has served as a foundation for their family.”We are grateful for the education and strong sense of community we were lucky to have in high school,” Hanna says. “We’re happy to give back in whatever ways we can.”

For more information on
Lollacup, visit lollaland.com.