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April 28. 2013 12:14AM

Apparel company helping Boston to mend


Life is Good employees Jill Buchan, left, and Stephanie Manners show off the new "Boston love" shirts the company is selling to benefit Boston Marathon bombing victims. The two women work at the company's Hudson office. (COURTESY)

"Nothing is stronger than love."

That's the message on a new series of T-shirts created and sold by Life is Good, with all profits going to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The Boston-based apparel company, which turned a stick-figure guy named Jake and his dog Rocket into pop icons, has its distribution and operations center in Hudson.

Steve David is director of brand marketing and public relations for Life is Good. He was in the company's marketing office on Boylston Street on Marathon Monday when the first bomb went off. (See related stories, A2 and A9)

"I said out loud, 'That doesn't sound good,'" David said. "By the time I could literally stand up and look out the window, the second one went off.

"You could see the debris and everything coming from in front of the Forum Restaurant. It was terrible."

Among the hundreds wounded that day was an employee of Life is Good, who is still recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital, David said. Other employees were near the finish line but were not injured.

Employees were not allowed to return to the Boylston Street office until last Tuesday; many were working out of the Hudson site instead, David said.

"It affected our whole team," he said. "And thankfully our culture in our company is such that we do one thing and we do it well, and that is to focus on what's right in the world."

They wanted to make a special T-shirt, with profits going to The One Fund Boston, created by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to help the bombing victims. Company designers came up with a simple "Boston" logo on the front, with a heart inside one "o" and this message on the back: "Nothing is stronger than love."

As of Friday, more than 30,000 shirts had been sold, David said.

The Life is Good team didn't want to splash the company's logo on the Boston shirt, David said, "because we know in a time like this, life really isn't so good right now. In fact, it's pretty bad."

But the response to what happened has been amazing, David said. "Ultimately, what we've experienced being right there in the neighborhood is an overwhelming outpouring of love and support. People saying 'Hi' to one another, people buying coffee for the police officers and some of the special agents that have been up and down the street. Nobody beeping their horns at each other...."

The company put a big sign outside its Newbury Street store offering "free hugs," and lots of customers have come in to take employees up on it, David said.

The first day the shops and restaurants were allowed to reopen, David said, one man went to the Starbucks coffee shop and put $500 on his credit card. "He just told the people at Starbucks, 'Coffee's on me until it runs out.'"

"I could tell you a hundred of those stories," David said.

He noted Life is Good has a company saying: "What you focus on will grow."

In the wake of the marathon bombings, David said, he's seen people focus on those countless acts of kindness instead of on those accused of the crime. And as a result, he said, "they lost, and the good guys win in the end. And that's the way the story usually goes."

swickham@unionleader.com


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