Culture in the Vail Valley Featured Stories

Be good to People – The original kindness company

It’s not scientifically proven but it is some kind of universal fact that while wearing a “Be Good To People” shirt, it’s hard to be mean. This is exactly what Kris Wittenberg wanted when she founded the company almost a decade ago. Sure, the road hasn’t been a straight shot but the meandering path she took with her company has led to more kindness in the world.

“My entire focus has been making things be kinder,” she says from her sun-drenched office in Eagle that is packed with BGTP items fromhoodies to coffee mugs to notepads. Ten years ago it felt like it was time to practice more kindness—today even more so.

Wittenberg isn’t even completely sure how she got fired up enough to create an iron on transfer for a t-shirt in 2008 someone didn’t hold the door for her or some other small transgression that pointed out just how unkind people can be. She stormed into her office and exclaimed, “Why can’t people just be good to people?”

It’s 2014 and Wittenberg is standing in a packed arena with her new BFF she had met just hours previously, vigorously waving her hands and screaming, “Gayle! Gayle! I don’t know what got into me,” she says with her high-energy laugh.

good_1Twenty-four hours prior she had met Gayle King (hence the first name basis) and in just a few more minutes she was going to meet Oprah. Oprah! In an hour or so more, Wittenberg’s life path was going to change.

Meeting Oprah had been on the top of Wittenberg’s bucket list for a while. It seemed fate had an interest when she was able to buy the last remaining ticket to the ‘Live the Life You Want’ Tour. Soon fate was going to totally intervene in Wittenberg’s life. Wittenberg arrived to the tour on a Thursday—alone. Standing in a line alongside mothers and daughters, sisters and best friends,

she began to have doubts this solo last-minute, bucket-list agenda such a great idea.

“Standing in line, alone, I felt like the biggest loser,” Wittenberg remembers. But she had on her signature Be Good To People t-shirtand a few line-mates loved the shirt and boosted her spirits. (Side note, it’s hard to be a jerk while wearing a shirt emblazoned with Be Good To People. Like, if you’re a jerk while wearing the shirt you are totally missing the point.)

Wittenberg snapped up the opportunity to meet Gayle King, Oprah’s BFF and editor of Oprah magazine. When Gayle saw Kris’s shirt, it was love at first sight – and, luckily, Wittenberg had a couple of extra’s in her stash; one for her new best friend, Gayle, and one Oprah.

“I wear Be Good To People every day. I knew Gayle was going to like the shirt because I get comments on it every time I wear it. She freaked out. She loved it,” Wittenberg says with glee.

So the next day when Wittenberg is screaming Gayle’s name—Gayle is wearing the BGTP shirt. When Wittenberg meets Oprah, Oprah already knows all about BGTP. “I said, ‘Oprah, Gayle is wearing my shirt!’ She took my hand and said, ‘I know. We talked about it a lot last night.’

“That is it. Gayle posted it on Instagram.” Voila, that’s how BGTP was launched. On February 17 the March issue of Oprah hit the stands, with BGTP featured in it and Wittenberg has been running full speed ever since.

BGTP is proof that good things can come from bad days or that good things can make a big impact. “It’s magic,” says Wittenberg, “The best part is it will turn your day around.”