Review: Mission in a Bottle

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by Contributing Writer, Kathy Hamilton

This September, as part of the Fall for the Book Festival, I attended a lecture by the CEO of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman, who has written a book called Mission in a Bottle: Thhe Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently and Succeeding. I recently opened a tea bar, so I naturally found the topic intriguing. I discovered that Seth Goldman is not only determined to do business differently. He also strives to appeal to all ages. His hardback book has a comic book format!

Goldman and his business partner, Barry Nalebuff, tell the story of their desire to bottle tea using a different premise: a simple one brewed from loose tea leaves with little or no-added sugar…in other words, “Honest Tea.”

The book chronicles the history of this simple idea from a modest start-up in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998 to a $100 million company in 2013. Through all this growth, the founders were able to maintain their original mission and not compromise their ideals. For example, when the Coca-Cola Company invested in their company in 2008, the giant drink company asked them to remove the “No high-fructose corn syrup” label from their Honest Kids juice packaging. They would not do so. Nonetheless, Coke’s resources allowed them to bring about advancements in their own company.

Mission in a Bottle serves as an excellent resource for entrepreneurs, small business owners or those who have a passion to make a difference in whatever they do. Seth and Barry write about their story to provide a guide to good business practices in a way that is at once amusing and encouraging, rather than stuffy and pedantic. As they wrote in the preface, “We wanted a book that we wish we could’ve read before we started out.” I highly recommend their book, not only for present or future business owners, but also for general inspiration and refreshment.

A sign at the entrance to Honest Tea World Headquarters reads, “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.” Goldman and Nalebuff have shown how to do it, and we may profit by their example.

Kathy Hamilton is the Owner of Uncle Sam’s Niece a gifts and antique store and tea bar in Gainesville, Virginia.


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