Simon Coley

The founder and creative director of Karma Cola on rainforests, desert islands, Burning Bridges and Donald Trump

simon coley karma cola

What was your first job? My first was sweeping the floors at the Caxton Press in Christchurch, New Zealand.

What’s been your worst job interview? Applying for a job with P&G in Singapore, they locked me in a room and gave me a maths test. I’d have preferred breaking rocks.

What was the first music single you bought? Burning Bridges by The Mike Curb Congregation, possibly the worst song ever written.

How do you describe your job to your mates? I help make and sell soft drinks that taste good and do good.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The soft drinks we make and sell benefit cola farmers in the Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone.

What is the least rewarding part? Convincing people who don’t believe products like ours can be ethical and profitable. But when they do ‘get it’ it’s the second most rewarding part of my job.

What is your motto in life? ‘What goes around comes around’ but the other insight is ‘be careful what you wish for’.

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? Another trip to meet our growers in Sierra Leone. I’m writing these answers from Lungi Airport in Freetown. I’ve just been visiting the communities we work with here and I can’t wait to get back.

Do you have any phobias? Currently I’m afraid of Brexit but I have a healthy range of anxieties, mostly to do with stupidity.

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? The sale of goods only focused on the bottom line without regard for the people who produce them and the environment.

What luxury would you have on a desert island? My family. A necessity.

What animal most reflects your personality? Karma Chameleon.

What’s your favourite film and why? Wim Wenders’ Wings Of Desire, which could be because of Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz and his mildly pissed off look while wearing unfeasibly large wings, and the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds soundtrack.

Which celebrity would you most like to work with? Donald Trump. I’d like to have a cigar with him, ask him how he got to be such a d**khead, and try and convince him to stick to golf.