For a Startup, the First is Everything

Posted by Elizabeth Thys, Oct 06, 2016 0 comments

The first client. The first project. The first co-created corporate art installation.

How meaningful is a startup’s first engagement? For limeSHIFT, it was everything.

Recently, limeSHIFT finished its first engagement with a corporate client. An idea that originated in an MIT classroom became a reality at Life is Good’s Boston headquarters. limeSHIFT, as a concept, has been evolving for years; it’s the culmination of work started by Yazmany Arboleda and Nabila Alibhai with their 2013 orchestration of Monday Mornings in Kabul, where the mission was to use the insertion of art and beauty to transform a community and change public narrative.

By moving this practice into a corporate setting, limeSHIFT was testing a new idea, using public art methodologies in a private community. As I wrote in limeSHIFT’s first blog post, “Our job was to create art that would inspire Life is Good’s employees to spread optimism externally.”

Through a process of quantitative and qualitative research and workshops, Yazmany and I dug into the culture, ethos and inspiration at Life is Good. The result was two art installations, #electricJOY and #helloSUNSHINE, located in the stairwell and lobby entrance, respectively.

#helloSUNSHINE, Yazmany Arboleda, 2016.

Employee feedback was overwhelmingly positive. On #electricJOY, Christine Kwitchoff, Director of Global Sourcing, noted that “this mural has sparked so much conversation and really sets the tone for our interaction with others.” Colleen Clark, Director of Optimistic People, stated, “It’s a beautiful representation of the people at Life is Good and the reality and the authenticity of the moments they go through in any given day.”

The inspiration for #helloSUNSHINE came from a workshop where Emily Saul, Director of Programming at Life is Good Kids Foundation, wrote the following as the intended message for those entering the space: “Hello, I see you. You matter. Your time matters. What you do here is valuable. Be inspired to be here and help make Life Good for the world.”


“What they did was open up a curiosity in all of us that I think makes us better decision makers and better community members.”
—Colleen Clark, Director of Optimistic People at Life is Good


We unveiled the artwork during a Boston Artweek Panel where Bert Jacobs, CEO of Life is Good, said:

  • “Every company including Life is Good is challenged to get their teams to feel united and inspired all the time. … Art, like nothing else in the world, can bring people together.”
  • “We benefited in productivity during the weeks when the project happened because it created energy in the space”
  • “Cross-departmental collaboration increased rapidly when we started working with [limeSHIFT].”

In the end, our first project with the help and support of the Life is Good community inspired us to continue with our work. It encouraged us that there is, in fact, a place in the world for more social practice art. For that, we are eternally grateful. The first truly is everything.

The Boston Artweek panel featured moderator Elizabeth Segran, staff writer at Fast Company; Yazmany Arboleda; Elizabeth Thys; Bert Jacobs; and Colleen Clark.

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