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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.

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Sue
6 months 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
6 months 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
6 months 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
6 months ago

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

Judy G
6 months 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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