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Socially Conscious Brands

How 4 College Dropouts Used Quarantine To Start A Viral Clothing Brand

When people remember 2020, it may bring feelings of pain, loneliness, and havoc. It’s true, this year was full of despair. For some, though, quarantine gave them the downtime to reevaluate their path, and maybe even work on the idea that always circled the back of their mind.

One of these ideas that spun up out of quarantine is Happiness Project, a socially conscious clothing brand with the mission to elevate happiness throughout the world. It has grown to 50,000 followers on Instagram so far this year, and I had the chance to interview the four college dropouts who worked tirelessly to make it happen. It’s a story that made 2020 a little brighter for those who have followed along, and for those who haven’t, this will get you caught up!


How did you start Happiness Project?

I (Jake Lavin) had the idea for it in 2017. A classmate had committed suicide and it shook our world, so I wanted to spread happiness and teach people about mental health. I decided to create a clothing brand that would donate a percentage of profits to a mental health organization. I dropped a line of clothing and got some followers, which was cool, but I eventually went off to college at Mizzou and stopped focusing on the company. Then at the end of 2019, I started coming back around to the brand, making new products and posting more on Instagram.

What changed in 2020?

In April of 2020, everything changed! Quarantine hit and my friend, Joey DeFilippo, started making some awesome tie-dye designs for Happiness Project. He was a little ahead of the tie-dye trend that hit this year. We started promoting these new designs with giveaways on Instagram, which really grew our following. Then we dropped the collection of tie-dye apparel in June and our followers and sales skyrocketed! We added another dye collection in July and just kept growing. Influencers were posting about Happiness Project, adding fuel to the fire. We launched a new product in August and another new ‘basics’ collection in September, so we’re always giving our customers new products. During that span, we also added two team members, Mike and Brendan.

What do you attribute to the success of the brand so far?

I think people really resonate with our mission to elevate happiness around the world. Mental illness is such a prevalent issue we face today and there’s a lot of stigma we have to break through to fix it. We educate about mental health and donate 15% of profits to an organization building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. We also hold events to raise money for mental health and spread happiness. Along with our mission, customers love our product designs and giveaways!

Where do you see Happiness Project going in the future?

We want Happiness Project to eventually become more than just a clothing brand.  We hope to one day have our own resources for mental illness in struggling communities and third world countries.  We want to make a community where people have a safe space to come and have fun (hopefully a physical location with fun activities throughout the building open to the public). We want to throw concerts and other events across the world to raise awareness for mental illness.

Happiness Project will continue dropping awesome collections and spreading happiness around the world! We are excited to grow and reach more people with our brand and mission. You can keep up with us by following our Instagram @happinessproject.