Maybe you see the message on a T-shirt someone is wearing, or on a sticker slapped on a signpost: Live a Great Story. You pause, the urgency of these words sinking into your mind and heart. Do you have a great story to tell? Zach Horvath, one of the creators of the San Diego-based brand Live a Great Story, believes that you do.
Live a Great Story isn’t just the name of this brand-new company. It’s the philosophy that Zach and his collaborators follow. And it’s the message that adorns the T-shirts, reminder bracelets and stickers they sell. If you’ve been in San Diego recently, you’ve probably seen the larger stickers the Live a Great Story crew has plastered around town to spread inspiration.
Zach and his cohorts have big plans to use Live a Great Story to tell the stories of others. In this conversation (edited a little for length and clarity), he tells us more about how the business began and what’s in the works for the future.
Tell us about your background and the background of Live a Great Story. How did you get to where you are today as a creative, and how did Live a Great Story came to be?
I went to Europe for seven months and traveled all around. Through that, I just met so many amazing people and heard so many stories from around the world. We realized that everybody is really living their own story. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing or what your background is. It’s about each individual person, and we all choose to live our own story. That’s the inspiration for Live a Great Story.
It’s about each individual person, and we all choose to live our own story.
After I came back from traveling, an idea started forming. A lot of people who are living great stories came together for this project, and we launched in early August. It’s definitely a new company, but it’s growing really quickly with a lot of positive response so far.
Starting a product or business is a big decision. What was the process like for you? How did you decide to take the leap to start Live a Great Story?
Before Live a Great Story, I had a clothing company; I started quite a few blogs. I’ve run an events company where we brought together artists, music and art. And so Live a Great Story has been pretty much the culmination of everything that I’ve learned and my journey so far.
People really like the phrase “Live a Great Story,” and so we wanted to put it on a shirt. We built a screen press by hand, we expose it by hand — the whole process.
We still have real jobs and are making real money, but this is a passion that we have as a group. I went to work, came home from work after eight hours and hand-dried shirts until 5 in the morning.
“Live a Great Story” is a motto, it’s a theme, but we’re also living it as a company. A big part of it is sharing other people’s stories, but also living our own story and really following our path, what we think and pushing forward and trying to do big things.
We just want as many people to see this message as possible, to share people who are living this message and to live a few stories of our own.
How do you encourage people to participate? Do you reach out to them personally or do they approach you?
Most of our contribution so far and much of our user feedback has been on Instagram. Our biggest way of getting the word out so far has been our street reminders. That’s where most people have found us. So it’s cool that all the growth that we’ve seen, the feedback and the people who have been very supportive have all just seen our street reminders, which are basically big stickers around the city. If you scroll through #LiveAGreatStory on Instagram, you can see so many people have taken pictures and are saying, “Oh, I needed this reminder today. Thank you, random sign!” or “This is what it’s about. This is what we want to do, and I hope I’m doing this.” And so that’s been the coolest part — just seeing hundreds of people sharing these reminders. It’s just that little bit of inspiration or motivation that we want to give to people to just keep doing their story and living it.
One thing that really stands out about Live a Great Story is design. Why is design important to you and to the brand/project?
When designing the logo, the most important part that came through was just that it needed to be simple.
We’re all about simplicity. It’s definitely been a huge part of our success so far, so we wanted it to be a very simple logo that people identified with and that can be shared easily across all sorts of platforms, from stickers around the city to shirts.
How do you use your creativity to make a contribution?
Our idea behind Live a Great Story is sharing a lot of people’s stories that are doing cool things, so along those lines we’re going back to kind of like the Renaissance era, when people gave back to the people actually contributing to aesthetics.
With the Live a Great Story Ambassador Program, we will create a platform where people can submit their stories and what they’re doing with their lives — from athletics to yoga to design to fashion. Once every quarter, our followers can vote on who is living the best story or doing the most good, and a portion of our profits from that quarter will go to those people. This will be our way of saying, “You’re doing something really cool, and we just want to contribute back to the community, so that you’d be able to live an even better story and impact even more people.”
A big part of it is sharing other people’s stories, but also living our own story and really following our path, what we think and pushing forward and trying to do big things.
What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur and creative? Is there anything that you would have done differently?
There are a couple of big lessons.
Making little choices and micro-testing over and over and over again. We all have other full-time jobs or different ways of making our income while we’re building Live a Great Story. I guess it’s the bootstrap idea of pivoting and seeing what works and what doesn’t without spending too much money upfront. We didn’t make 5,000 shirts or spend a lot of money on the website. We can make choices here and there that will slowly improve instead of a massive upfront investment.
Seeing how many people and the variety of people that it impacts, from teenagers to middle age to office workers to athletes. We’ve seen everybody share our message, and so it’s cool to see that everybody is living their own story and there are so many stories out there. You can’t judge someone by how they look or what they’re doing from the outside. It’s just up to them to keep that story going, and it’s been really cool to see how many stories are out there and really understand that everybody’s different, special, and unique.