Tag: Bert and John Jacobs

4 (Top) Things I Liked in Reading ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’

4 (Top) Things I Liked in Reading ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’

When it comes to Superpowers, the inaccessible superhuman strengths of fictional characters, like Superman, Spiderman, and Wolverine, used to instantly occur to me, whereas the readily accessible traits like ‘Openness’, ‘Courage’, ‘Simplicity’, ‘Humor’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Fun’, ‘Compassion’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Authenticity’, and ‘Love’ did not come to my mind. But, after reading the book, ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’ co-authored by Bert and John Jacobs – Founders of the American apparel and accessories brand, ‘Life is Good®’ – the latter qualities spring to my mind, whenever I contemplate Superpowers. The manner in which the brothers champion the traits as Superpowers, by putting down numerous illustrations of both tapping into them in the process of building their establishment, serves as an irresistible account in acknowledging them.

There are 10 chapters in the book, wherein each chapter advocates a trait, which is promoted by a considerable number of personal experiences of the ‘Life is Good®’ founders and external references. From the many interesting experiences, I am picking four and briefing them below…

4. Possessing “I’m all ears to feedbacks” attitude:

In the early days of their business, Jacob Brothers used to embark on journeys in their van to sell T-shirts. After returning home, it was a ritual for them to organize parties for their friends. They found the occasions as opportunities to not only catch up with buddies, supply them beer and a few tales from their journeys but also to tape up their T-shirt designs around the room and let their friends write feedback besides them. After a particular road trip, despite not being in a mood to organize a party, they went ahead in arranging one. A loose, simple sketch of a bohemian guy (in the pic below) received dozens of feedback around it, and the founders felt the comment, “This guy’s got life figured out.” to be very striking, and subsequently, they distilled it to “Life is Good.”.

As a follow-up, two days later, they printed 48 “Life is Good” T-shirts to sell at a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Much to their surprise, the T-shirts were sold out in less than an hour. The three words, ‘Life is Good’ turned out the moment magical and the simplicity in the design attracted more attention than their elaborate pitches, messages, and designs, which they had delivered in five years since the inception of their business.

This life-changing moment stems literally from the founders possessing an “I’m all ears to feedback” attitude. The below acknowledgment from Jacob Brothers stands testimony to their desire to accept feedback of any sort and thereby, evolve…

“The company is imperfect and always will be.

Its founders are even more flawed.”

3. Nurturing One’s Community:

It’s a delight to watch ‘Life is Good®’ nurturing its community by encouraging them in supporting a cause.

A snap, taken during a pumpkin festival
A snap, taken during a pumpkin festival
(Pic Source: WikiMedia Commons)

For instance, in 2003, the brand invited people to participate in a pumpkin festival, which attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most carved, jack-o’-lantern in one place at a time. The apparel and accessories brand partnered with the Maine-based nonprofit, ‘Camp Sunshine’, which supports children facing life-threatening illnesses and their families. The festival, which was complemented by games like sack races, home run derby and obstacle courses for kids and adults alike, and fundraising, saw a turnout of more than 10,000. Every year, the fest was organized with the very same cause i.e carve and light pumpkins to break the Guinness World Record. Finally, in 2006 on the Boston Common (A central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts), a huge crowd gathered carved, and lighted 30,128 pumpkins and broke the Guinness World Record. More importantly, over $500,000 was raised for ‘Camp Sunshine’.

2. Humanizing the Brand:

Following the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the ‘Life is Good®’ brand decided to help victims and their families via a fund-raising product. So, they reached out to their retail partners informing their idea to sell special, stylized American flag shirts and then donate 100 percent of the profits to the cause. A morale-boosting influx of orders encouraged the brand to print and ship shirts that lead them to end up with a donation of $207,000, far more than their initial fundraising goal of $20,000.

T-shirts designed following Boston Marathon Bombings
T-shirts designed following Boston Marathon Bombings

Ensuing Boston Marathon Bombings on April 13, 2015, the company created a T-shirt with the text, “BOSTON” on its front with a small heart in the center of one of the O’s and the copy, “Nothing is stronger than LOVE” on its back. Within 30 hours after conception, the apparel was made available for sale in stores and on the brand’s website. In less than 60 days, the T-shirt’s sale went on to amass over half a million dollars in profit, which was then donated to ‘The One Fund’ that was established to help victims and their families.

Both projects appear as the height of humanizing the brand in the darkest times.

1. Reinforcing the core values to the internal customers:

The 10 Superpowers form the core values of the ‘Life is Good®’ brand. In order to embody the values into their products, the company reinforces them to its internal customers i.e. its employees in an interesting way. Within the company’s design center, there is a digital art gallery that showcases each Superpower using inspirational images, which are selected from the brand’s latest influences and most recent work. For every season, one Superpower is chosen to highlight as their creative inspiration. The idea is to make the employees establish an emotional connection with the Superpower to express the same to the customers via the products.

A 'Life is Good' artwork
A ‘Life is Good’ artwork

That’s it with my top four picks and to conclude my article, I briefly boil down the book with the below note.

Per Jacob Brothers, people fighting great adversity, like disease and the loss of beloved ones, share their experiences in correspondence. Their stories illustrated the brothers on optimism guiding them in battling tough times. Having been inspired and moved by the stories, the brothers dubbed them ‘Fuels’. If people’s courageous stories have been the ‘Fuel’ to Bert and John Jacobs then the book as a whole is a binding of various ‘Fuels’ emerging from the brothers’ experiences, predominantly in the process of building their establishment.

Book available in the below link…