Life is Good has made a successful business out of selling optimism. Now the $100 million lifestyle company’s founders Bert and John Jacobs are on a cross-America #GROWtheGood tour in a custom Airstream trailer, promoting kindness and instigating optimism.
The brothers’ company donates 10 percent of net profits to help kids in need and has given over $11 million to date through the sale of Life is Good products, events and community fundraising efforts.
The nationwide optimism tour—eight weeks, 40 communities and 3,000 miles—has a goal to raise over $1 million for kids, partnering with organizations including Pencils of Promise, Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Boys & Girls Club through the WorldVentures Foundation, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Born This Way Foundation and Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground.
The tour follows the successful release of the founders’ book, Life is Good: The Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride. “The tour is a continuation of our purpose: to affirm life and help kids in need, John Jacobs told brandchannel. “Life is Good is, and always has been, a purpose-driven company.”
We spoke with John Jacobs about the brand’s approach to social philanthropy.
brandchannel: What have been the highlights of the tour so far?
John Jacobs: The #GROWtheGood tour has been amazing so far. We have met and reconnected with so many inspirational people, and that’s really what it’s all about. A few highlights include:
- Teaming up with L.A Loves Alex’s Lemonade for a powerful event that raised over $1M for childhood cancer research. Both Alex’s story and the profound way her parents Jay and Liz choose to honor her legacy—and help countless other children—is incredible.
- A reunion in Southern California with a young woman who helped to inspire our own Life is Good Kids Foundation with her positive outlook despite being diagnosed (at age 11 in 1998) with terminal bone cancer. Lindsey is now a happy, healthy 27-year-old who is wiser than most people twice her age.
- Donating a DreamCourt basketball court with Leah Remini to the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach. And playing a great game of ball on it.
- We did a flash mob!
- And, just for kicks on the way back from the St. Jude’s Walk/Run in San Francisco, we drove the Life is Good Airstream down the spectacular Route 1 Coast, getting in some feel-good ocean Frisbee time, about an hour south of Big Sur.
— Kari Schneider (@schneidertwins) September 22, 2015
bc: How is the business of selling optimism going these days—and what’s the biggest challenge?
Jacobs: We spread the power of optimism through our positive messaging—via T-shirts, books, videos, etc.—and through the work of our Kids Foundation, helping kids overcome poverty, violence and illness.
The modern world can be intense and complex, and the media tends to inundate people with negative news. We strive to help people focus on what’s right in their lives—because whatever we focus on grows.
Our brand is increasingly acknowledging—while never dwelling on—the challenging aspects of life. To underscore optimism is not about being blind or irrationally positive. Our challenge, and it’s one we savor, is inspiring more people to see optimism as more than an upbeat philosophical viewpoint. It’s a pragmatic strategy for achieving goals, and living a happy and fulfilling life.
bc: What trends do you see emerging in social philanthropy?
Jacobs: Fortunately, we’re seeing a big positive trend here—for humanity and for business. Social causes are being strategically integrated across all facets of more and more businesses. This is a positive evolution with a focus on cause-related marketing or giving back.
It represents a deeper commitment. As long as consumers continue to vote with their dollars about social causes that matter most to them, the businesses that positively impact the world are only going to grow in numbers and in strength.
— Life is Good (@Lifeisgood) September 11, 2015
bc: What are the key metrics in being a successful, purpose-driven company?
Jacobs: How many people are we inspiring to choose optimism, to have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of others?
How many kids are we helping to overcome poverty, violence, and illness?
Of course, the answer to the first two questions zeroes out if we don’t stay true to our values—consumers reward authenticity—while maintaining and growing a healthy and profitable business.
bc: Where do you see your business in five years?
Jacobs: We will have a significantly broader positive impact by focusing on growing the metrics described above. We’re excited about evolving our bread-and-butter product categories (e.g., apparel, accessories); expanding further into the world of publishing, film, education and artist collaborations in all mediums; and shaping our website into an inspiring Hub of Optimism.
The tour concludes late October in Boston and fans can participate via the hashtag #GROWtheGood by snapping a photo about something good that happened today. For each #GROWtheGood moment shared on Twitter or Instagram, Life is Good will provide $1 to support kids in need.