Life is Good almost filed bankruptcy last year, but this saved it: CEO

Life is Good was on the verge of submitting for bankruptcy safety last yr, in keeping with its CEO, but the retailer managed to overtake its enterprise technique in a matter of weeks to have its finest yr ever through the Covid pandemic.

"When [Covid] hit, 50% of our business was wholesale … and that business died in a hurry," Life is Good co-founder and CEO Bert Jacobs stated Tuesday throughout CNBC's Small Business Playbook occasion.

"We were in a situation where we were facing bankruptcy, and we were facing having to cut at least half of our staff. That's when we said … let's play offense really hard. Let's produce this stuff to order, and let's see what happens."

Instead of ordering in bulk shirts, pullovers, hats and different equipment which might be already printed with logos, slogans and different designs, Life is Good began ordering batches of clean objects last yr, the CEO defined. Then, monitoring shopper sentiment, it started printing stock on-demand that had phrases about staying residence and quarantining, carrying masks, and different pandemic-related developments.

"We started speaking to whatever was culturally relevant, which at the time was a lot of difficult things, but we tried to keep it light," Jacobs stated.

Bert Jacobs, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is goodPaul Morigi | CNBC

The technique clearly helped. Not solely did it support in boosting clients' morale, but it was a monetary success story.

"2020 ended up being the best top line we've ever had in 27 years, and the strongest bottom line," Jacobs stated. (The privately held firm didn't escape precise gross sales figures.)

"2020 showed us how we should be running our business," he stated, including that gross sales in 2021 are nonetheless "growing like mad" as a result of Life is Good is sticking to the enterprise ideas that it picked up on through the previous few months.

"We are working for the consumer, and everybody's got to do that," Jacobs defined. "The [retailers] that survive are going to be the ones that listen closely and capture the data. … The consumer gives you the answers."

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A lot of retailers weren’t as fortunate as Life is Good last yr, as they buckled beneath the pressures introduced on from the well being disaster. Dozens filed for bankruptcy, and 1000’s of retailer closures have been introduced by retail companies, many within the attire class.

There is a renewed sense of optimism, nonetheless, that demand is starting to rebound as customers go away their properties and put together to socialize once more. Americans shall be returning to work, in droves, within the months forward, and households wish to e-book long-awaited summer time holidays.

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

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