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Bert and John Jacobs — Life is Good

Bert and John Jacobs designed their first t-shirts in 1989 and hawked them on the streets of Boston and at colleges along the East Coast. But for five years, success eluded them. Then, in 1994, they struck upon the idea to use a design of a cartoon figure called Jake and the motto “Life is good.” People seemed to embrace the simple message of optimism — the shirts were a hit at a local street fair and retailers soon became interested.

Now Jake’s face and motto are on more than just shirts. You can find him and other characters smiling on products from towels and totes to coffee mugs and dog leashes. And life sure is good now for Bert and John Jacobs. Business is booming, with 2011 sales coming in at about $100 million.

Photo: Life is good