Life Is Better: How one optimistic apparel brand thrived in the pandemic


So, in its place, Existence is Excellent played offense: They established more shirts, not fewer. They hired staff by the dozens.

Two several years afterwards, it’s apparent the bold move worked. Annual profits doubled in between 2019 and 2021, reaching $150 million, and on-line gross sales increased by 75 p.c. Employee headcount has just about doubled because 2018, to 276. Bankruptcy is but a faint memory.

“We had been saved — feel it or not — by optimism,” Jacobs explained.

Smart company, also. Everyday living is Good’s pandemic-era good results can be attributed to logistical finagling that allowed the company to sidestep woes that befell many others, such as the provide chain disruption and labor concerns. Though the inventory sector tumbled and businesses grasped for federal help, Lifetime is Fantastic turned positivity into cash and dollars.

In the early days of COVID, Lifetime Is Very good commenced make attire graphics on a more rapidly turnaround, sometimes below a 7 days. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Personnel

Here’s how.

It started with the variety of apparel the enterprise set on the industry. Everyday living is Superior has typically profited off at ease tees (also tanks, hoodies, and hats) decorated with a stick figure named “Jake” and upbeat themes, like songs and mountaineering. All through the first lockdown, individuals needed clothes that achieved the minute or at the very least, distracted from the doom and gloom.

The group commenced to style lighthearted COVID-period graphics on a more rapidly turnaround — occasionally less than a week — and “sales were being explosive,” claimed president Tom Hassell. Bored Americans gobbled up tees emblazoned with “quarantinis” (a play on “martini”) and a different parodying the canceled 2020 baseball year as “the longest rain delay in background.” They honored “superheroes in scrubs” and inspired individuals to “wash your paws” subsequent to a golden cartoon pet. Just one just reported, “Science: It’s like magic, but real.”

Armed with stimulus checks and discounts from the pandemic spring, shoppers ended up keen to invest. A lot of ordered file quantities on the net and then in individual when brick-and-mortar enterprise around the state reopened. Convenience was in vogue, too, and T-shirt profits amplified 47 per cent in between March and Might 2020, according to Adobe Analytics.

The inflow of orders revived Daily life is Fantastic, and Jacobs discovered solace in the unity the shirts furnished in the darkish situations. It reminded him of the sentiments right after 9/11 and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

“There was an strength and temperament exactly where the place felt like we were being in this jointly,” he claimed.

Also helpful: A change to neighborhood creation that assisted Everyday living Is Excellent prevent the Excellent Supply Chain Disruption.

Just three several years back, the company utilised abroad manufactures to print shirts, which had been then transported to and distributed in the United States. Now, staffers order significant quantities of blank inventory to Everyday living is Good’s expanded facilities in Hudson, N.H., and Lawrence. (3 million items of blank attire stock the warehouses these days, up from 500,000 in 2019, Hassell reported.) Staff print designs on the blank dresses, produce them to close by achievement centers, and send them out, either specifically to buyers or to 50 independently owned Lifestyle is Very good merchants nationwide.

That’s significantly less chaotic and expensive than coordinating with factories in faraway countries and waiting for finished orders to get there, Hassell stated. A number of equivalent clothing organizations, by distinction, however supply completed merchandise from South Asia, where by nations around the world are burdened by manufacturing facility lockdowns and shipping delays at crowded ports.

“Our way, we steer clear of most of the supply chain problems and command our very own destiny,” Hassell mentioned.

Completely, the method has proven fruitful for Life is Fantastic. The business has continued making much more types than ever before — close to 250 each individual month, up from 100 in the pre-pandemic days. Revenue have slowed from the 2020 boom but remained substantial, as prospects gravitate in direction of cheerful messages amid a drumbeat of dismal news: the Russia-Ukraine war, the rising existence of gun violence, and — for many — the risk to abortion legal rights. (Shirts that say “Wag On,” “United We Stand With Ukraine,” and “Everything Will Be Alright” have bought significantly very well this calendar year.)

Entries from the Existence Is Very good T-shirt Art Contest are displayed on this wall, in the company’s Fort Point workplace. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Nevertheless, these days, the threat of a recession looms over the economic system, and homes are battered by the superior expenses of requirements like meals and gas.

The price tag of undertaking business has climbed for Jacobs and Hassell, much too. Cotton rates — the lifeblood powering Existence is Very good items — top $1 per pound, properly higher than the usual fee of $.60 to $.80. The company eats a lot of the increase in costs, alternatively than raising prices for its clothing. That cuts into profits.

Nonetheless, the pair at the helm of Existence is Great is self-confident in the product: a excellent shirt that ought to make you smile. And they’ve survived monetary wreck the moment before.

“The actuality is that the idea that optimism is strong is timeless,” Jacobs mentioned, “through very good occasions and lousy.”

Diti Kohli can be arrived at at [email protected] to her on Twitter @ditikohli_.


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