Our founder’s story by Jono
I grew up with fantastic and loving parents and my brother, Rob, who remains one of my best friends. I played a lot of tennis as a kid and whilst I enjoyed school, especially the sport, I was academically limited. The best thing to come out of my school career was my lifelong friendship with my other best mate Billy. I went to University, primarily because that was what was expected, bungled my way through a degree and then did a Masters as I didn’t know what else to do. Despite lacking direction or any form of plan, I enjoyed it all.
Working life, with the schedule and independence it brought, suited me. I worked in finance for most of my twenties and whilst I am comfortable with numbers, I could not say I was passionate about my work. But again, I enjoyed it. In 2010 the opportunity arose to join my Dad and brother in the family business they had started in 2004. My Dad had been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s a few years earlier, so the chance to help support him as he continued to try to work and partner up with my brother to grow what they had built to date was fantastic. Again, I can not say I was passionate about the industry (speciality chemical distribution, so pretty niche), but I absolutely loved working with my brother and building and growing a business. It was with immense satisfaction and pride that we were able to sell the business in 2016.
Until my early thirties, I can honestly say I don’t think much crossed my mind other than playing sport, eating and what the upcoming weekend had in store. A well paying job, somehow a beautiful girlfriend (now more miraculously wife) and surrounded by great friends and family, I didn’t have a care in the world. I knew at the time, as I know now, that it was a great time in my life that I should appreciate and enjoy accordingly.
What changed? Well, in many ways nothing. I still love playing sport, still love eating and still enjoy the weekends, albeit they involve less excess and earlier nights. Life continued to be great fun. But in other ways events around me made me more aware that we all face challenges and struggles at various points in our lives. Whether it was the health of our parents and their generation, the first divorce amongst your group of friends, couples looking to start families but it not being as straightforward as hoped, challenges at work, life seemed to get a bit more serious and grown up.
Perhaps most notably, a couple of friends around my age had serious health scares. We were all reasonably young, fit and healthy thirty somethings and like a lot of guys that age assumed we are indestructible. I include myself in this bracket as I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 34. Thankfully, we all made full recoveries.
LifeJacket represents everything that I have enjoyed about previous careers combined with everything I feel has been missing. Working with my two best friends, Rob and Billy (both best men at my wedding) to produce and promote products I care about with the sole aim of helping people be healthier. I really couldn’t be looking for more.