Forever Young

John Jacobs, 33, & Bert Jacobs, 36

Life Is Good
Year Started: 1994
Based in: Boston
2001 Projections: $3.1 million

It's not always easy to focus on the positive. For John Jacobs (below, left) and Bert Jacobs, however, positivity is a way of life. In 1989, the brothers began designing and hawking T-shirts on the streets of Boston, eventually quitting their substitute teaching jobs to take a five-year trek through the East Coast college scene to peddle their shirts. Although they slept in their van and only made enough to eat and travel to the next destination, their adventures would make for a perfect philosophy for their company.

Back at home in Boston and searching for a brand they could build a business on, John and Bert took a tip from friends who loved two of the sketches strewn about the designers' apartment-the phrase "Life is good" and a smiley character, Jake. When their new shirts bearing Jake and the phrase sold out at a street fair within two hours, the Jacobs brothers knew they were on to something exceptional.

"Throughout society, so much negativity is shown through the media," says Bert. "[We thought] it would be refreshing to hit people with something positive without being preachy."

Their insight paid off. Expanding rapidly with 2000 sales totaling
$3.1 million, Life Is Good Inc. offers an assortment of T-shirts, sweatshirts and headwear. With a celebrity following including Matthew McConaughey, Drew Carey, Stephen King and Survivor 2's Keith, Jake's become quite a popular guy. "We stumbled into the business," Bert says. "[But] if you have energy, enthusiasm and good people behind it, anything can happen." -April Pennington

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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Forever Young.

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