Bert and John Jacobs
Doctors of Entrepreneurship
Brothers Bert and John Jacobs took a simple idea—that an optimistic attitude can make a real difference in the world—and turned it into The Life is good Company, a privately held global business that sells apparel and accessories in the United States and more than 35 other countries.
Their success exhibits the same entrepreneurial values upheld by Northeastern and so many of its alumni: innovation, perseverance, self-confidence, passion, and commitment.
The brothers designed their first T-shirt in 1989. Still in their 20s, they traveled the East Coast in a minivan, selling their apparel door-to-door in college dormitories.
It took five years and countless meals of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they created the design and message that would strike a chord with millions of people around the world eager to embrace optimism: the iconic “Jake”—wearing a black beret, sunglasses, and a wide grin—above the motto “Life is good.”
In July 1994, at a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they sold out their entire stock of 48 Jake T-shirts in 45 minutes. Today, they run a $100 million business, with plans to expand Life is good offerings into home goods, wall art, and book publishing, and to extend the company’s reach as a global brand.
Life is good represents the Jacobs brothers’ values in its emphasis on creating a rewarding and fulfilling work experience for employees. These values carry over into the brothers’ philanthropy. Since 2004, Life is good Festivals have raised more than $4 million to help children overcome such life-threatening challenges as violence, illness, and extreme poverty. The brothers have now founded the Life is good Kids Foundation, to coordinate their work on behalf of children.
Bert Jacobs graduated from Villanova University in 1987 with a degree in communications. John Jacobs is a 1990 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he majored in English literature and minored in art.