Glass Half Full

Revisiting local favorite ONEHOPE wine—seven years and more than a dozen causes strong.

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    Amber Klinck

It’s probably safe to say capitalism and philanthropy are two ideologies rarely associated with one another. That may change, however, with the growth of companies like ONEHOPE—laying the groundwork for what Jake Kloberdanz refers to as cause-centric commerce.

Jake—ONEHOPE’s CEO and founder—along with co-founders Sarah Gora, Brandon Hall, Tom Leahy, Tiffany Wojtkiewicz, Kristen Shroyer and Blake Petty, has interlaced the success of the business with providing a greater social impact. “It’s at the core of what we do as a company, as a brand and as individuals,” Jake explains.

A wine brand with 12 varietals, each paired with one of 10 specific causes, ONEHOPE donates half the profits of each bottle sold to one of the following: ending childhood hunger, saving our planet, the fight against breast cancer, supporting our troops, funding pet adoptions, the fight against AIDS, helping children with autism, ending world poverty, clean water and curing heart disease.

This translates into $1.2 million donated to ONEHOPE’s nonprofit partners collectively. But if you’re less interested in dollar amounts and more into how the money is put to work, ONEHOPE has quantified the donations attached to each product, giving their consumers an inside look into how their purchases make an impact.

For example, a case of ONEHOPE’s sauvignon blanc funds the planting of six trees in U.S. forests. Every three cases purchased of chardonnay funds a clinical trial for a woman with breast cancer. By quantifying purchases into social impacts such as finding a home for a shelter animal, behavioral therapy for autistic children and providing clean water, ONEHOPE has taken the ambiguity out of giving.

For a group of trailblazers reinventing their industry, it’s hard to believe that only seven short years ago Jake and his team started ONEHOPE with little more than $10,000, a small Manhattan Beach storage unit filled with wine and a fierce combination of optimism and determination. Selling wine from their cars, the co-founders sold 8,000 bottles by ONEHOPE’s one-year mark.

Jake explains that the company’s greatest milestone “was getting seven people to leave their comfortable jobs and take a chance. Immediately after, we had the first taste of building our own company, we knew there was no going back.”

Of course like all new business owners, the 20-somethings faced their share of obstacles, including the challenges that came with the 2007 recession. But Jake and his team pressed on and came out the other end even stronger. “After you make it through something like that, it’s very empowering. It makes you start talking crazy, saying things like, ‘We can change the world. We can make a switch in consumer culture,’” Jake explains.

In 2009 ONEHOPE began their partnership with award-winning winemaker Robert Mondavi, Jr., a pairing that resulted in multiple 90+-point ratings. In addition to the more than 100 medals awarded, ONEHOPE was named by INC. 500/5000 as one of the top 1,000 fastest-growing private companies in America. In 2012 the company was named EMPACT100’s Social Business of the Year.

With a formula that has proven equally successful for ONEHOPE and its supported causes, Jake and his team are working with other companies, helping them integrate a social impact into their business through the Social Impact as a Service program. For Jake, however, this is only the start of an even larger vision.

“We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of human compassion from a corporate standpoint,” he says. “Consumer culture is what you see on the cover of a magazine; it’s what we celebrate as a society. If what we celebrate as a culture is giving back, then we’re headed in the right direction.”

Consumer culture is what you see on the cover of a magazine; it’s what we celebrate as a society. If what we celebrate as a culture is giving back, then we’re headed in the right direction.

With aspirations of being the leader in cause-centric commerce, making it to the top-50 list of wineries in the U.S. and eventually existing as a billion-dollar lifestyle brand, ONEHOPE is constantly evolving as a business. “Everyone at ONEHOPE is still founding what this company certain aspects of the company and brand,” explains Jake. “It’s a living thing that’s constantly being reinvented and innovated on.”

When asked what she likes most about working with ONEHOPE, Megan Robinson—art director and product development—smiles and says, “Everything that we do is contributing to something bigger.” Jake adds, “We have a pretty magical group of people that have come together.”

An innovative team with passion and a shared vision for transforming consumer-driven business has proven to be a winning combination for ONEHOPE. In addition to wine, ONEHOPE’s brand has expanded to include coffee, gift sets, via ONEHOPE and the ONEHOPE Foundation. The brand’s future is looking bright, with every bit of growth allowing the team to give that much more to their nonprofit partners. And that’s something that impacts us all.