Life is Good nearly filed for chapter final yr, however that saved it: CEO

Life is Good was close to filing for bankruptcy protection last year, according to its CEO, but the retailer was able to revamp its business strategy in a matter of weeks to achieve the best year ever during the Covid pandemic.

“When [Covid] hit, 50% of our business was wholesale … and that business died in a rush, “said Bert Jacobs, Co-Founder and CEO of Life is Good, Tuesday during the CNBC Small Business Playbook event.

“We were in a situation where we were facing bankruptcy and had to cut at least half of our staff. Then we said … let’s play really hard on the insult. Let’s make this stuff to order and see what happens.”

Rather than ordering in large shirts, sweaters, hats, and other accessories already printed with logos, slogans, and other designs, Life is Good started ordering batches of blank items last year, the CEO explained. To monitor consumer sentiment, the company began printing inventory on demand, which included sentences about staying at home and quarantine, wearing masks, and other trends related to pandemics.

“We started talking to everything that was culturally relevant, which was a lot of difficult things at the time, but we tried to keep it easy,” Jacobs said.

Bert Jacobs, Co-Founder and Chief Optimist of Life is good

Paul Morigi | CNBC

The strategy clearly helped. This not only contributed to increasing customer morale, it was also a financial success story.

“2020 was the best result in 27 years and the strongest result,” said Jacobs. (The privately held company has not established exact sales numbers.)

“2020 showed us how to run our business,” he said, adding that sales are still “growing like crazy” in 2021 as Life is Good adheres to the business principles it has adopted over the past few months Has.

“We work for the consumer, and everyone has to,” said Jacobs. “The [retailers] The survivors will be the ones who will listen carefully and collect the data. … the consumer gives you the answers. “

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A number of retailers have not been as lucky as Life is Good over the past year as they collapsed under the pressure of the health crisis. Dozens filed for bankruptcy and thousands of store closures have been announced by retailers, many in the apparel category.

However, there is a renewed sense of optimism that demand will gradually recover as consumers leave their homes and prepare to reconnect. Americans will be returning to work in droves in the coming months, and families are looking to book the long-awaited summer vacation.

“This is really a community of rational optimists,” said Jacobs. “I say rational optimists because we recognize that there are challenges in the world … that it is difficult … but we decide when to wake up in the morning to focus on what’s right, what, with our lives is right with the world, more than what’s wrong with the world. “

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