My personal journey with Just Be Nice began twelve years ago, in 2011. I was in my early twenties, playing in a band, and someone handed me a bumper sticker at a music festival. I hate bumper stickers, but the message moved me in such a way that I did not hesitate to put it on my car immediately.
In the months that followed after I put that bumper sticker on my car, I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of people that shared a similar affinity for the brand and its message. I found myself in many conversations with people at traffic lights and at convenience stores complimenting my bumper sticker and asking where they could get their own. ‘Just Be Nice’ quickly became a part of my identity, and it was clear to me that the message also resonated with many other people in the same way it did for me.
It was at this point that I felt compelled to reach out to the company directly and propose a partnership with my band that would allow us to spread the message from the road. To my delight, it was the owner herself, Finley Mason, that responded as kindly and enthusiastically as I could have hoped from a person that owned a company called ‘Just Be Nice’. In the subsequent years, I remained a dedicated proponent of the brand, and stayed in touch with Finley sporadically about opportunities to incorporate the message into my work as a musician, as well as a therapist and teacher in the special needs community.
My relationship with Finley and JBN reached a new level in January 2020, as I was planning for an event that I would be producing the following month. This would be the largest event that I had produced to date, and it was an integral part of my vision that JBN be adequately represented. I reached out to Finley and asked for as much merchandise as she was willing to ship, and a few weeks later, a huge box filled with JBN products arrived at my doorstep. Just as I had planned, Just Be Nice was a huge hit and set the tone for the event, becoming the unofficial mantra that people took away with them.
It seemed essential after the event that I keep the momentum with JBN, and so I approached Finley about getting more involved and exploring a way to bring the company to Connecticut. She responded by asking if Ling and I, who had just gotten engaged, would be interested in helping her run the company, and we could not have been more excited for the opportunity. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit only a few weeks after that, and reality as we knew it stood still for the next few months.
Collectively, Finley, Ling and I tried to get things going during this time, but we struggled to find our footing along with the rest of the planet, and we stayed in limbo for the remainder of 2020 into the beginning of 2021. It was then that Finley expressed interest in stepping aside and turning over the company to Ling and I entirely. She could feel our passion and desire to spread the message of Just Be Nice, and trusted us to continue her dad’s legacy through this brand. We were honored, and gratefully accepted the offer, eager to embark on a new journey in our lives and begin a new chapter of JBN.
But it wasn’t quite as seamless as that…over the past year and half, Ling and I were busy working, we planned a wedding and got married, and truthfully we had no idea how to go about relaunching an [online e-commerce brand]. We wanted to do it the right way and honor the legacy of the brand to date, and it took us some time to acquire the knowledge and find the right people to help us make it happen. It was only in the past few months that we were able to find the bandwidth and energy we needed to get this company going again, but now we are finally able to begin the next chapter of Just Be Nice.
So now you know our part of the story - it was fun to recount all of that, and even more gratifying that I get to share it as the first official post on the new JBN Blog page! (I even found the original email that I sent to Finley as I organized the details to write this, dated 5/4/11…really cool.)
But what does it all mean? Where do we want things to go from here?
I think the thing that I am most excited about is having Just Be Nice as a constant vehicle in my life, and a means for me to connect with the world in a meaningful way. Just in these past few weeks that we have been preparing for the relaunch, I have said to Ling several times, “this is our life now”, as we have been out promoting and interacting with people with ‘nice’ as our backdrop…I can think of no better way to walk about the world. This is why I was drawn to the message and brand of JBN in the first place, but it is truly special to have a resource at my disposal that allows me to step outside and tap into the sheer power of simply being nice.
I look forward to meeting people and experiencing the world with this message on the forefront of my mind, with a newfound burst of creativity and authenticity, and an opportunity to manifest any idea in the name of “niceness”. Already, I am drumming up all kinds of creative projects that seemed so distant before I was able to utilize JBN as my vehicle, and I don’t believe I have even begun to scrape the surface. Collaborations and sharing creative energy feeds my soul, and to do so with such a concept of ‘being nice’ as my driving force is all the more empowering.
Furthermore, I look forward to the way in which Just Be Nice will hold me accountable, which I believe is one of the most powerful aspects of the brand. It feels completely inappropriate to be inpatient on line at a grocery store while I am wearing my JBN t-shirt, just as much as it feels hypocritical to have a spurt of road rage with a JBN bumper sticker on my car. I think that making Just Be Nice a larger part of my life can only make me a better person, and for me, that is one of the most exciting parts about all of this.
In the context of my personal life, I am excited to work with Ling and learn new things together through this new entrepreneurial opportunity. We have officially entered into a new phase of our lives together, building on our marriage to expand our partnership to include an element of business and collaboration of a completely different kind. We will be learning much of this as we go, and will be honest and transparent about our process along the way, but we could not be more confident that we will make our vision a reality, and I look forward to embarking on this journey with my wife, and with all of you.
I am a firm believer that people are where exactly where they are meant to be, and I feel that is true as ever as I look ahead at this new chapter of Just Be Nice - my feeling so inclined to reach out to Finley all those years ago, the ways I incorporated the brand into my life and my work over the last decade, the way the crowd received the brand at my event, all of the conversations during the pandemic that allowed Finley to feel comfortable passing down the company…all of those steps led to this moment, when Just Be Nice takes on a new life and steps back into the world as a brand with the hopes of becoming a movement.
I believe in this message, this brand, and this movement, and Ling and I are grateful to George, to Finley and Kat, and to all of the JBN family that allowed us take part on this journey.
Until next time,