Here's another exchange with Julie, the Honest Tea customer who is disappointed that we made a deal with Coke.
I have no doubt that you have already asked yourself some of these very difficult questions. Unfortunately, it appears that we have come to different conclusions because Honest Tea has chosen to continue its growth with the monies and connections of a corporation that has done much to harm human health and the environment, at home and abroad. Like you, I want to see an increase in healthy, environmentally sound, and socially just products in the market. But in the end, even after considering the positive health, environmental, and social outcomes of mass-market distribution of your healthy, organic, Fair Trade-certified product, I still cannot condone your partnership with Coca-Cola as a means to this end. As a consequence, I will no longer consume or purchase Honest Tea products. I will also be informing my family and friends, who I originally introduced to your product, of this decision.
I hope that time will prove me wrong. For now, however, I feel personally obligated to part ways with Honest Tea.
For the past ten years, we have built the Honest brand with passion, effort, and a great deal of sleepless nights. Whether it's not knowing how we'll pay bills or personally guaranteeing bank loans far in excess of my net worth, I have built this company with its mission ingrained in its product. If I am still running the business (which I am) and Honest Tea is still selling the same kind of products (which we are), I believe we have earned the opportunity to prove ourselves. We have the chance to make change happen in a powerful way. Of course, there's the risk that we won't succeed, but I've lived with risk for ten years and can live with the odds.
SETH GOLDMAN | Columnist | Co-founder of Honest Tea
Seth Goldman is the President and TeaEO of Honest Tea, the company he co-founded in 1998 with Professor Barry Nalebuff of the Yale School of Management. He's preparing the September release of a graphic novel titled Mission in a Bottle.