Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life is good® Festivals Unite Communities, Help Kids Face Unfair Challenges

Company Info
Life is good, Inc.
283 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: [617] 266-4160 x210

Founded: 1994

Employees: Started with two -- brothers/co-founders Bert and John Jacobs, who sold T-shirts on the street. [See their prototype design, featuring "Jake" -- circa 1994 -- above.] Current head count: 228 people -- including 164 in LIG's Hudson, N.H., facility; 22 in Concord, N.H. [the other production printing facility]; 26 within LIG's three retail stores; and 16 in LIG's design center.

Contact: Jim Laughlin, Director of Communications

The Business
Life is good® designs, manufactures and markets various optimism-, fun- and fitness-themed merchandise in 14 product categories for women, men, girls, boys, tots, pets and the home. The company has its own factory in Hudson, N.H., and 41 other locations help manufacture LIG goods.

LIG's spring 2007 catalogue features no fewer than 936 products; e.g., T-shirts, caps, loungewear, footwear, mugs, sweatshirts, jackets, blankets, balls, Ultimate discs, wallets, backpacks, towels, thermoses, photo frames, water bottles, yoga mat bags. Many items feature LIG's omnipresent "Jake," who's smiling ear-to-ear while running, golfing, grilling, hiking, playing tennis, cycling, roasting marshmallows, surfing, snowboarding, practicing yoga, lounging, etc.

LIG products are available via the company's Web site; LIG's own three retail stores; 4,500 retailers across the country [e.g., gift shops, resorts, fitness and outdoor/adventure stores]; online stores, such as; and at 45 Genuine Neighborhood Shoppes [GNS] locations in 20 states, stretching from California to Maine -- each of which exclusively sells LIG's full line of products. LIG is on track to have 6,000 retailers and 200 GNS locations by 2010.

Corporate and group sales discounts are also available. For information, dial LIG's toll-free number: [888] 339-2987 x151.

The Buzz
What's not to love about a company that evangelizes optimism and whose motto is "Do what you like. Like what you do"? Factor in that Life is good® products are of consistently high quality and that its founders literally launched their company on the streets of South Boston, and you've got a classic small-biz success story.

How did LIG score a profile on GoodBiz113? Well, it seems that, besides liking to have a good time, the company also has a very generous spirit-in-action heart. Their primary giveback initiative: annual outdoor festivals that connect communities and raise funds for kids who face unfair challenges [e.g., life-threatening illnesses, trauma].

The Catalyst
Jim Laughlin, LIG's director of communications, said the horrific events of 9/11 marked a turning point. "Life is good® has built itself on a message of timelessness and optimism," he explained. "We seek to have the greatest positive impact we can have in the communities in which we do business. With 'Jake' as the inspiration-cum-mascot of the brand, the mission and next steps for the brand are always defined by asking the question, 'What would Jake do?'"

The Strategy
"Following Sept. 11, the answers to this question were even more clear," Laughlin noted. "At that point, LIG made a conscious and ambitious effort to focus all of our marketing resources on the philanthropic mission.

"In 2001, Life is good® selected a pair of long-term causes, also family-focused: Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses; and Project Joy, which provides play therapy for traumatized children. We created a vehicle that similarly resonates with the Life is good® brand: seasonal outdoor festivals."

The Process
Life is good® Pumpkin Festivals and Watermelon Festivals, which are free and open to the public, help communities come together to feel good and to do good.

Last summer, more than 35,000 people [AKA "melonheads"] flocked to Boston Common for LIG's third annual Watermelon Festival. Music, classic summertime picnic food [e.g., PBJ's, burgers] and old-fashioned activities [e.g., Frisbee, bocce ball, Whiffle Ball, tug-of-war, seed-spitting] filled the day. By day's end, a new World's Greatest Backyard Athlete was named -- Curtis May -- and $201,326 was raised for Project Joy. Click here for 2006 Watermelon Fest photos taken by students at The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University [CDIA].

Oct. 21,2006, marked LIG's fourth annual Pumpkin Festival. Homegrown activities -- including pumpkin carving, scarecrow stuffing, gourd bowling, treasure hunting, and navigating a puzzling pumpkin maze -- filled the day. The event also smashed a Guinness World Record for having the most lit jack-o'-lanterns: 30,128! More than 100,000 people filled Boston Common that day, and raised $271,027 for Camp Sunshine. A total of $554,211 was raised at Life is good Pumpkin Festivals nationwide. Click here for 2006 Pumpkin Fest photos taken by CDIA students.

100% of all LIG festival profits -- from product sales, fund-raising contests and events, personal donations, and LIG donations -- go to Camp Sunshine and Project Joy. [FYI: Long- and short-sleeved 2006 Pumpkin Festival T-shirts are still available.]

The Partners
* City of Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department -- LIG's festivals began in Boston in 2003, and are still held in Boston Common -- the nation's oldest public park
* Newland Communities -- Starting in 2006, the nation's leading developer of master-planned communities helped LIG Pumpkin Festivals spread through the country -- i.e., to 18 communities in seven states
* Other brands who share the same spirit and mission, and who are looking for the opportunity to tap into the goodwill and charitable efforts of LIG's world-class festivals; e.g., Annie's Naturals, Citizens Bank, Olivia's Organics, Starwood Hotels, UPS
* Local media partners who helped generate support and awareness of the charitable efforts

The Upshot
Over 250,000 people have come out to LIG's homegrown festivals. "Now, in addition to the major festivals, Life is good® contributes to charities that help kids facing unfair challenges in communities across the country," Laughlin added. "From outfitting a group of runners in Life is good® apparel who are running in memory of a loved one, to donating gift baskets to help raise money for therapeutic riding programs, Life is good® strives to spread 'good vibes' across the country. This year, Life is good® touched more than 150 communities through such charitable donations."

The Financials
In the past three years, Life is good® festivals have raised more than $1.2 million for its two highly valued nonprofit partners and beneficiaries: Camp Sunshine and Project Joy.

The Takeaway
Looking back, is there anything LIG would do differently in launching its giveback initiative? "We would have started earlier," Laughlin candidly noted. "There's never enough time to make the positive impact you want to make in the world."

As for sharing the wealth of his company's philanthropic experience with other small-business owners, Laughlin was equally forthright -- and inspiring. "Don't make giving back the whipped cream of your business -- something to be added on top of the real work," he advised. "Weave charitable giving into the fabric of your mission and your business. Demonstrate it as the core of what you do. Find a means to make your giving a true and unique expression of who you are are what you value. Ensure that your employees and business partners know it and are iinvolved. Finally, aim high. Try to take on something nearly impossible to achieve, then die trying.

"Life is good® has made charitable work a pillar of our mission as a business. If you ask any employee what the most important thing we do is, they will say 'Festivals.' That feels pretty darn good."

Note: Sponsorship opportunities are now available for the 2007 Life is good® Pumpkin Festival and 2007 Watermelon Festival. Let these events' good vibes, giving spirit, and open-air access to tens of thousands of family members, young couples and college students flow to you as a sponsor and exhibitor. Please contact Jim Laughlin by telephone at [617] 266-4160 x210, or email LIG at for a complete package detailing sponsorship benefits.

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