I remember my friend and former boss Jim Prosser, from JK Carriere Wines, said to me, “What do you want to do with your life”? I can’t remember my answer but apparently he liked it because he swiftly fired me on the spot. That was a few months before I accidentally started an advertising agency that was supposed to be a film production company. Jim was our first client. NEVER grew out of that. It has a long, complex genesis that would make an excellent bedtime story for a young Fred Savage.
The original idea for NEVER was to create a coffee lab where we constantly innovate flavors and launch new coffee creations. Step one was gathering a group of baristas, artists and designers together who wanted to create something surprising and delicious with coffee and brand. Most of the first steps consisted of creating, experimenting and inspiring each other. Much later, a beautiful café was born to serve our beautiful creations. After that, there was a business. But that was all long before NEVER started accepting Bitcoin for coffee subscriptions, hired Elizabeth Holmes as our CEO and got acquired by Dunkin Donuts.
Not in an aggressive way, but I really wanted to create a disruption in coffee that felt really positive. I also had a lot of experience working with brands and I wanted to work for my own brand. Those were big motivators
Everything is a dialectic. I’m very convinced. It has almost become a worldview for me. It’s how I look at brand, culture, art and business. Otherwise, I’m really good at seeing the potential in other people who have more valuable skills than me.
My first business was entirely cash flow. That built character but was hard. With NEVER, I asked some family and friends to invest and my father-in-law was excited about what we were building. Little does he know that when I was four year’s old, the local newspaper did a little feature about my weekend orangeade stand. The photo showed me, shirtless, guzzling orange juice with two neighbor girls who looked really bored. The caption read, “Drinking up the profits.”
Dose of optimism. Dose of strategy. Dose of hubris. Stir. Learn from mistakes.
Options, opportunities and ideas. There are always too many. I have to constantly convince
myself that it is better to do one thing really well than several ill-considered things.
Yeah. It used to be more detailed. I’d like to get to the point where the entire NEVER brand guide is simply the use of our five colors. In any combination. In any pattern or piece of art. As long as the five colors are present, it can be NEVER. Getting there.
I honestly don’t know. It’s a great question. My gut says that social media helps a brand win the battle but lose the war. Jury is still out. I know that social media makes my neck hurt.
I think the NEVER brand feels right to people. I think it feels like it’s going somewhere. But to answer honestly, people like delicious drinks and friendly baristas. We have those in spades.