Manhattan Beach resident Jake Kloberdanz was in his early 20s when a close friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 23 years old. The UC Berkeley graduate was working as a sales rep for a wine distributor when he came up with an idea to do “something with a greater purpose” and the idea of ONEHOPE Wine was born.
Kloberdanz recruited seven of his friends to get the charitable endeavor off the ground where 50 percent of the profits benefit various charities, from breast cancer prevention and treatment to U.S. forest preservation and protection. With $10,000 and a mission, ONEHOPE was formerly launched in June 2007 with a vision of “cause-centric commerce.” They started with 168 cases of wine.
“We had a crew of us who knew how to sell wine,” said Kloberdanz. “We started with Gallo and launched the brand kind of in our early to mid 20s. I think the oldest person on the team at the time was 26 and the youngest was 22. We kind of just jumped into it and started selling wine out of the back of our cars. We played with the brand and the label as a first step. That was the cornerstone of our business, selling wine for a cause.”
Now based in El Segundo, ONEHOPE sold 50,000 cases of wine last year and have now donated more than $1 million to its partner charities. The company has also expanded its outreach with the ONEHOPE Foundation, HOPE at HOME, ONEHOPE Weddings, Craft1933 and ONEHOPE Coffee and Tea.
ONEHOPE got off the ground quickly in 2007 when they landed Mama D’s Italian Kitchen in Newport Beach as its first restaurant to carry the brand. ONEHOPE’s original founders — which includes president Tom Leahy, chief operations officer Blake Petty, chief marketing officer Brandon Hall, executive vice president of sales Tiffany Goodman, vice president of sales in California Sarah Gora and Kristen Lyn Shroyer, vice president of sales for Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — quit their jobs and came on board full time.
Mike Weber, a Manhattan Beach native who graduated from Mira Costa in 2001 and became friends with Kloberdanz while they attended Berkeley, came on board that year as a part-timer to help launch the companies first website in 2007.
“Jake and I used to have conversations about this business before he even started it,” said Weber, who came onboard full time in 2009 as the director of online operations. “I was doing my own start-up for the first couple of years that ONEHOPE was getting off the ground and that kind of fell apart late 2008 like a lot of things did. I took a couple of months off to kind of reflect and see what I wanted to do and then an opportunity came up with ONEHOPE. They were looking to do more on the digital and direct to consumer side so I stepped in to help with a couple of things and soon took on the full online load. We’ve launched a few new products since.”
ONEHOPE wine got its first distributor in 2009, Young’s Market Company. The following year, according to Kloberdanz, they grew the business “pretty aggressively.” Because of this growth, they attracted the attention of the Michael Mondavi, of the famous wine-making family, at a trade show. By October, they launched new wine, co-created by winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr., and now have an alternating proprietorship at the Michael Mondavi Family Estate Winery in Napa, making its biggest step from a “virtual brand.”
ONEHOPE expanded substantially in 2012, partnering with Lamill Coffee, to make the companies first foray into that multi-billion dollar business. They also launched HOPE at HOME, which is a “thriving community of Social Entrepreneurs” by hosting wine tasting parties at home, of which proceeds benefit a cause of their choice. Also, ONEHOPE Weddings is a service where wine bought for the wedding gives back to charities of choice.
“We believe that every individual can make a social impact through their lifestyle. So we aim to provide them products and experiences where social impact is integrated in,” Kloberdanz said. “Why not give them a platform to raise additional money and a reason to bring people together for whatever the cause is?”
In its short history ONEHOPE has made an impact, raising more than $1 million already for charities. Each bottle of wine benefits a unique charity. For example, the merlot helps a child survive HIV or AIDS or the cabernet helps fund therapy sessions for children with autism. In 2012 alone, according to ONEHOPE, its contributions provided 250,000 meals to children in need in the U.S. through Share Our Strength; 27,626 trees were planted in U.S. forests through a partnership with American Forests; 1,633 free mammograms were provided to women in the U.S.; a child with pediatric AIDS is kept alive worldwide for 1,117 months through Keep a Child Alive; 19,564 diapers were provided for premature babies; 632 hours of speech therapy were provided for a child with autism; and 351 people were provided with clean water for life.
“If you’re going to donate you might as well know the actual impact that you’re making and be able to vet the right organization to work with,” Kloberdanz said.
While the company is growing nationally, ONEHOPE still has strong ties to the beach cities. They developed a close working relationship with many of the areas finest restaurants including Chez Melange in Manhattan Beach, Flemings in El Segundo and Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Terranea features ONEHOPE wine at each of its restaurants, Kloberdanz said, and has helped provide more than 100,000 meals for children through sales of its sparkling wine. They’ve also worked closely with the Zislis Group and its properties including Shade Hotel and Rock’N Fish in Manhattan Beach. Mickey’s Deli in Hermosa Beach also carries their wine and has been a big supporter, he said.
ONEHOPE moved from Raleigh Studios to its location at 227 California St. where Kloberdanz said he hopes to add to the Fortune 500 companies in the city like Chevron and Mattel. Not bad for a company that began with its merchandise stored in several apartments and a public storage unit in El Segundo.
Kloberdanz said the company’s next step is to create a new business model and culture and “turn around and offer all the tools and expertise that we’ve learned in cause-centric commerce to other businesses.”
“That’s the big vision is that we can build something here and be the first case study of this platform,” Kloberdanz said. “Then (we can) open up to whether it’s a small local business or larger businesses and teach them how to integrate social impact into their mission and into their vision and their everyday transactions. It gives them the ability to do the same thing they’re already doing, but make a real social impact in the local community or national domestic community or global community. We want to be the leaders in that space and we think we are one of the leaders because we are thinking about it from a much bigger perspective of not just our business, but how we touch other businesses.”
For more information, visit www.onehopewine.com or @ONEHOPEwine.