Life Is Good for Bert Jacobs

Bert Jacobs, co-founder and “Chief Executive Optimist” of Life is Good, Inc., is one of Villanova’s most accomplished alumni. Bert, and his brother John, built their business off dreams of working together and selling t-shirts. They spent five fairly unsuccessful years living out of a van and selling shirts on the streets of Boston until, in 1994, they designed Jake.

Jake is the name of the stick figure featured on almost all Life is good’s merchandise. Jake and the mantra “life is good” were the keys to the company’s profitability and identity. Life is good is not only about selling t-shirts, but it is truly about the spread of positivity. Bert and John are selling more than keepsakes; they are promoting a message that occasionally may be difficult for the world to see.

Bert, after graduating from Villanova with a degree in Communications in 1987, worked as a ski instructor, pizza delivery man, and a substitute teacher. In 1989 he and John began designing and selling t-shirts. They faced many difficult times while chasing their dreams and living on a tight budget. Finally, when the company got moving, they learned a great deal about their product from their customers.

11-year old, Lindsey Beggan, for instance, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and was a loyal customer to Life is good. When interviewed about her illness she stated that she had been taking her life for granted and now learned to appreciate it. Customers like Lindsey are the reason Bert and John take such great pride in their business. However, this message of optimism is not only present in the messages of their products, but it is quite alive within the atmosphere of the company. Bert and John believe with the greatest intensity that optimism and persistence are the keys to loving life and being successful.

Today, Life is good has expanded from a t-shirt company to include apparel and accessories with Jake participating in many different activities. Though the business has grown, the positive message and simplicity of the logos have remained the same and contributed to the company’s continued accomplishments. Life is good also began their own festival, which includes music, games, fun activities, and proceeds that are 100% gifted to the Life is good Kids Foundation.

Bert and John were able to live the message that Life is good promotes in order to make their business a success. Because of their determination and positive attitudes, they can now promote the same message to better the lives of their customers.