LeadersSmall BusinessThey Rent A Van To Sell T-Shirts And Now They Bill $100 Million A Year

After college, they rent or pick up a truck, a Plymouth Voyager, and for five years they travel around America to sell their t-shirts. Today the brothers Bert and John Jacobs are the owners of a brand; ‘Life is Good’, distributed in 4,500 stores in the United States and 30 countries around the world. Their story is beautiful. We tell it here. Door to door in the dorms: The first investment of the two brothers in Boston was 200 dollars,...
Chris Morris4 months ago76587 min

After college, they rent or pick up a truck, a Plymouth Voyager, and for five years they travel around America to sell their t-shirts. Today the brothers Bert and John Jacobs are the owners of a brand; ‘Life is Good’, distributed in 4,500 stores in the United States and 30 countries around the world. Their story is beautiful. We tell it here.

Door to door in the dorms: The first investment of the two brothers in Boston was 200 dollars, it was at the end of the 80s and they did not know that they are laying the foundations of a 100 million dollar a year business. They used to go to the dorms on college campuses and university. They sold door to door. If they had decided to do it to families they would have closed the door on them. But the students were passionate about their history: they slept on the street in a pickup truck or in makeshift quarters, they told Huffington Post.

The first five years, a disastrous budget: Life is not easy for the two brothers who tell the many vicissitudes and the desire to drop everything: “We thought about it especially when we had little more than 70 dollars on the account. We had a good education, with a little effort we would have found a good place as teachers and lived a quiet life. But life was giving us more. ”

A simple idea that everyone loves: “Sometimes we even traveled five hours from one college to another. During one of these, my brother and I wondered why the media focused only on the negative aspects of the world. The conclusion we came to is that fear served to sell more: “And if instead, we created a character, a sort of symbol of optimism, a hero who shows the world we would like. We made a draft, a childish drawing, a character named Jake. Underwriting, Life is good. In a short time, we sold 48 T-shirts in 45 minutes.

Feedback from the first retailer: The two brothers start selling the first t-shirts to retailers, a clothing store for children and teenagers: There we received the first feedback. Some negatives, like when we relied on a retailer who cheated us and brought us to our knees. Moreover, some were the enlightening ones, like when the owner of a store asked us if Jake (the character of the t-shirt, Ed) liked to fish. Then we put the character in other contexts.

Life is good

The importance of a mother: Having become the symbol of optimism thanks to the company philosophy, John and Bert did not have simple adolescence. The parents escaped a fatal accident, with the father who completely lost the use of his hands: “Our mother was decisive for us. Despite the problems, every night when we gathered for dinner, she asked each of us (we are six) to tell her something beautiful and funny that had happened to us during the day. You have always thought that life was beautiful, despite everything, as our brand explains.

Three tips for a successful business: In Forbes they explain three principles that inspired their success:

  1. Establish the mission of your brand: “A noble purpose will help you to motivate yourself, to reinforce the theme, to believe in complex moments”.
  2. Wrong part of a larger plan: We were so wrong, we relied on bad distributors, and maybe we would have made fewer mistakes if we had listened more. Waste was our best teacher. They helped us to make corrections, to grow more.
  3. Break the line between work and play: “We’re not robots; the fun can’t just be moved on weekends. Working in a fun climate will make you more productive and collaborative. We behave with the employees like my mother did: “Tell us something beautiful that happened to you these days …”

Chris Morris