Thursday, November 30, 2023


How it Happened: The cheerful Life is Good Company

You’ve undoubtedly seen the T-shirts. You may even own two or three, like me! No one captures the simple pleasures of life, especially camping life, like The Life is Good® Company. You might be surprised to learn that a road trip was the catalyst for a company that now boasts well over $100 million in sales. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Life is Good: The beginning

It was 1988. Brothers Bert and John Jacobs, both in their early 20s, had questions about their futures. To find an answer, the boys began a seven-week road trip—the trip that they freely admit changed their lives forever. Traveling throughout the U.S. with a determined plan of “absolutely no plan,” the brothers met many great people and saw new sights that influenced their future in a big way. After returning from their trip, the men decided to start a T-shirt business.

The Jacobs named their fledgling startup “Jacobs Gallery” and began traveling up and down the East Coast of the United States, selling T-shirts at colleges and street fairs. While on the road, the boys existed on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, lived out of their Plymouth van, and struggled to make their company profitable. After every selling stint, the brothers celebrated their sales (or lack of sales) with a party at their apartment with friends. Partygoers gave the boys feedback on new T-shirt sketches and admittedly drank a lot of beer. “We tried and failed a thousand times,” the boys wrote about these T-shirt selling trips.

Then, in 1994, with only $78 in the bank, the brothers had an “ah-ha” moment. Hanging on their Boston apartment wall was a sketch along with the words “Life is good.” It was the hit of the party. So, the brothers printed forty-eight T-shirts and took them to a Cambridge street fair, where they completely sold out within an hour—including the very shirts the brothers were wearing!

A rebranded success!

A "Life is Good" t-shirt showing a man sitting by a fire drinking coffee with his dog. The shirt reads, "Happy Hour."
Like this shirt design? Find it here.

Bert and John Jacobs rebranded their company “Life is Good” and knew they had a winner. The problem? They needed to get their product in front of more people. They got their chance in a small shop on Cape Cod. The shop owner saw the stick figure wearing the jaunty beret and sunglasses and asked, “What’s the name of the guy?” Off the top of their heads, the brothers replied, “Jake” (a shortened form of their last name.) Later on, the boys learned that “jake” is an old term for “everything’s all right.”

And it certainly is “all right” now!

Do you own something from the “Life is Good” product line? Or have a favorite quote from one of their products? Please share it in the comments below.

Want a Life is Good shirt for yourself? Click here to see tons of options.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Neal Davis (@guest_243748)
4 months ago

Thank you, Gail! No, not one thing do we own of the brothers’ line of wares. I might have more t-shirts (and I currently have many), but DW is less than pleased when I mention buying one. Besides, I’m from an era of paying $5 ($10?) for a branded t-shirt and the prices that I see preclude me buying any of them. 😉

KellyR (@guest_240725)
5 months ago

I learned something today. I had never heard of any of this.

Neal Davis (@guest_243749)
4 months ago
Reply to  KellyR

Me, too, KellyR, me too. 🙂

KellyR (@guest_243755)
4 months ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Some days I think it is good that I live under a rock.

Sue (@guest_240708)
5 months ago

I LOVE all my Life Is Good t-shirts! I’ve accumulated at least 20 by now, in various styles (light and heavy weight, long and short sleeves, regular and V-neck). They are well made, comfortable, don’t shrink, moderately priced (esp. during sales), there are so many designs it’s often hard to choose, and many of them can be custom designed at no extra charge. I’ve given some as gifts, too. Highly recommend this company!

Drew (@guest_240686)
5 months ago

I have several t-shirts beginning from the early 2000’s. My daughter had a spare tire cover on her jeep. They made an impression and every time I wore one I think I felt a little better.

Beth Holt (@guest_240679)
5 months ago

I have more LIG shirts than I care to admit. My first one was a gift from my sister in early 2000s; graphic was Birkenstocks that said ‘Not all who wander are lost.’

I prefer the shirts that have the small graphics and relatable sayings. They’re all I wear these days. So glad the brothers persevered. And 10% of their profit are donated.

Paul Miller (@guest_240676)
5 months ago

Love, Love, Love every one of my “Life is good” T shirts (too many to count now)
They are 100 % cotton (my fav) comfortable and fun to wear! And their story is a really good one!

Alice M (@guest_240674)
5 months ago

My husband’s favorite Life is Good shirt says “Every day is Saturday”! We both have several and I’ve bought them as gifts also. Great story.

Susan S. (@guest_240673)
5 months ago

On a whim, I first purchased a couple of Life is Good T-shirts at a name brand sporting goods store about 7 or 8 years ago. Those 2 T-shirts soon became my favorite T-shirts because of the quality, easy-care, and the different styles and colors with simple sayings. I own about a dozen T-shirts.

Our 78-year-old neighbor lady here at the RV Park where we live stationary for the time being has a large collection as well. Several years ago her great grandson noticed the “Jake face” on the back of her T-shirts and wondered what the little face on the back of great grandma’s T-shirts was all about and why it is on the back of her T-shirts. She told him the story, and he thought that was really cool.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_240672)
5 months ago

Great article! We’ve purchased a number of their T-shirts. I still have my kayaking shirt that shows “Jake” carrying a kayak. And of course it says, “Life is Good”. Life IS good, believe me.

Last edited 5 months ago by Tommy Molnar
Judy G (@guest_240643)
5 months ago

There was a shop named Life is Good in Nashville, IN, which sold their merchandise including sets of dog bowls. My big girls used them in Indiana and then traveling full-time throughout the West. Now, settled in NM, my current dog is still greeted by Life is Good in her breakfast bowl and for drinks throughout the day.

Sue (@guest_172456)
1 year ago

I love their designs, the quality of their shirts, and the reasonable prices (frequent sales, too). I’ve got at least a dozen of their long and short sleeved t-shirts. Highly recommend.

Brenda Bilton (@guest_172168)
1 year ago

I love Life is Good stuff. I have more shirts than I can count (SO soft), a hat or two and a couple cardigan type sweaters.

Bugsy (@guest_172077)
1 year ago

Loved the jeep when we had our Rubicon. Looking for glamping shirts now that we have our motorhome. T-shirts are great and at an affordable price.

Betty Studzinski (@guest_172011)
1 year ago

My fav shirt from them is “Wine a little, Laugh a lot”

Drew (@guest_240688)
5 months ago

Love that….

Judy G (@guest_171975)
1 year ago

Long before retirement and being a full-timer, my hometown in Nashville, Indiana, had a little shop on the hill named Life is Good. In addition to my T-shirt, I bought [and still have/use] a set of dog dishes that declare Life is Good!

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