Bert and John Jacobs
Bert and John Jacobs are co-founders and Chief Executive Optimist and Chief Creative Optimist, respectively, of The Life is good Company. Jake, Life is good’s iconic hero with the contagious smile, teaches men, women and kids that optimism is fun, healthy, and empowering.
In 1989 the Jacobs brothers designed their first T-shirts. They began selling their designs on the streets of Boston out of an old van at colleges and fairs along the East Coast of the United States. In 1994, following a not-so-successful road trip and a combined sum of just $78 in the bank, they returned to Boston, unsure of the future of their business. After gathering friends at their apartment to share stories and ask for comments on their new drawings and sayings, one image received considerable favorable attention: the beret-wearing, smiling stick figure and the phrase "Life is good." The brothers named the character Jake and printed up 48 shirts. At a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the shirts sold out in less than an hour. They began to sell shirts and hats featuring Jake in local stores and the demand for the merchandise grew quickly, as did national recognition of the brand.
Life is good expanded its product lines from T-shirts and caps into a lifestyle brand that features optimistic apparel and accessories focused on positive messages and emphasizing simplicity, humor and humility. Today, Life is good products are sold by more than 3,500 retailers nationwide, six company-owned stores and on Lifeisgood.com. The innovative company focuses on forging meaningful, emotional connections, and relies heavily on its community of Optimists to help spread the power of optimism.
Life is good also holds an annual two-day celebration of music and optimism, The Life is good Festival, which raises money for kids in need. The Festival features three stages of nationally-known musical talent, hands-on games and interactive arts activities. More importantly, the Festival is a one-of-a-kind fundraiser for The Life is good Kids Foundation and creates a community of fundraisers. The Life is good Kids Foundation receives 100 percent of the funds raised at the Life is good Festival.
After graduating from Villanova University in 1987 with a degree in Communications, Bert worked as a ski instructor, pizza delivery man, and substitute teacher. John graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1990 with dual degrees in English and Art. He began designing and selling T-shirts after college and also worked as a substitute teacher to supplement his income during Life is good’s infancy. Bert and John are the youngest of six siblings from Needham, Massachusetts and they credit their mother with teaching them to face the bumps in the road with a smile. The Jacobs brothers see simplicity, humility and a sense of humor as the three keys to Life is good’s continued success.