Life is Good clothing is a 100 million-dollar company run by brothers Bert and John Jacobs. They were from a middle-class company in Boston and have four other siblings.
Like any other business, they started from scratch and went through a lot of failures. However, this one question from their mother kept them going and inspired them to build a clothing company that is now very successful.
In 1988, Bert and Jacobs took a seven-week road trip from California to Boston. The brothers said this trip changed their lives forever as they looked back on their childhood.
According to the Jacobs, their childhood was perfectly-imperfect. Their house did not have heating but they were taught to always see the good in things.
They remembered playing outside all day and when it’s dinner time, they would gather around the dinner table. Their mother would later say to them: “tell me something good that happened that day.”
They faced more challenges along the way but this did not stop them from being optimistic. Their parents had a near-death accident which caused severe damage to their father’s right hand. Luckily, their mother escaped the tragic accident with only a few broken bones.
The brothers said the accident made their father develop a harsh temper. He would always yell at them but their mother would always sing to them and read them children’s stories. “That optimism was something our family always had, even when we had little else,” the brothers said.
During the trip, they tried to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives and decided to have a clothing business. They started selling t-shirt designs in street fairs and dorms around Boston. The t-shirts were designed under the name “Jacob’s Gallery.”
Their small business didn’t turn out so well but the two brothers did not give up. They purchased a van worth $2,100 and changed their target audience. This time, they tried to sell their t-shirts to college students, going to different schools every night. Again, it did not work and they faced a thousand more failures.
To figure out what they have been doing wrong, Bert and John held keg parties where they asked their friends for their honest opinion. In return, they could enjoy free beer and amusing stories from the siblings.
This did not seem to work and they were running out of money. Nonetheless, they took the risk and held another party which they thought was the last.
Finally, someone noticed their design and showed sincere appreciation. This design was just a simple drawing of a stick figure wearing a beret with the phrase “life is good.” More people liked the design and their t-shirts started to sell when they brought them to a street fair in Massachusetts.
“We were searching for so many years for, ‘what do we stand for,” says John. “Then when we put out this design, the response was so immediate; It was exactly what we hoped for.”
The success story of John and Bert Jacobs is truly inspiring. Their company, Life is Good Clothing is now a $100 million company. Before, they were only selling t-shirts but today, one can find any type of clothing on their website, even accessories.
People fell in love with their smart and cool clothing designs that come with positive and encouraging words. With just one question from their mother, the Jacobs brothers found their inspiration not only in business but only in their lives.
If you’re a business person or thinking about starting a business, may you find a bigger-than-like inspiration, just like the founders of ‘Life is Good’ clothing company.
Watch this video and be inspired by the roller-coaster journey of Bert and John Jacobs: