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Clayton Christopher

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Profile

Clayton Christopher, the founding partner in Sweet Tea Leaf, spent his early days as a competitive cyclist.

Christopher got tired of staring at the back of Lance Armstrong’s jersey. Christopher tried his hand as a charter boat captain in the Florida Keys. But one day he realized that the guys who could afford sailboats weren’t the guys who made their living chartering them. As the sun went down in the harbor, Christopher decided it was time to make his mark on the world.

Since childhood, Christopher seemed to know he would run his own company. But that day on the sailboat, he didn’t have one clue as to what the business might be. Then, he was introduced to a businessman from Birmingham, Alabama, who brewed and bottled iced tea. The man spoke with such passion, it was contagious. Not only did he give Christopher the encouragement he needed to take the plunge, but the Alabama iced tea bottler gave him the inspiration for the category he would ultimately pursue: bottled iced tea.

So Christopher decided he would make the best-tasting iced tea in the world. So he took his last $10,000 with a matching grant from his dad and went to brewing tea. His infrastructure was modest: two garden hoses from Home Depot and a pillowcase for a tea bag. Christopher begged for shelf space from a local convenience store. He navigated the lean years, when money was so scarce, he had to chose between meeting payroll and paying vendors. But it all paid off, and the rest is history.

Christopher and Sweet Leaf Iced Tea have been featured on CNBC and the Food Network. His sweetened teas are marketed in major chains throughout the world. But the thing that really lights him up is receiving an email from a customer who taken the time to rave about one of his new flavors of tea.

Companies and Investments

Sweet Leaf Iced Tea (founding partner), Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka (co-founder/partner), Rhythm Superfoods (co-founder)


Lessons Learned

I started Sweet Leaf, so I never really thought of myself as a CEO. I just thought of myself as the protector of our brand. I’ll always be the one who is first to charge into battle. That’s what I learned being a CEO is all about, and I think you should do that as well in any venture you pursue.

Inspiring Quotes

I regret nothing. There have been things I missed, but I ask no questions, because I have loved it, such as it has been, even the moments of emptiness, even the unanswered-and that I loved it, that is the unanswered in my life.

Ayn Rand

Clayton Christopher's Quotes

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My father started his own business. Ive always believed anything was possible.

Clayton Christopher

Influential Books

Ayn Rand - The Fountainhead

Mentors

Jerry Greenfield, Father

References


Technical

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