Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where did the name Whimbeads come from?

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question over the past 26 years of being in business.  And sometimes I wish I had a reply that started with. “After much thought….”  LOL
We opened our store with Shawn’s Mom, Lynn, in 1986.  She had always wanted to own a gift boutique, but didn’t have much experience with retail sales on that level.  I had tons.  So she offered to loan me $1200 and I could rent some space in the shop to sell beads.  We found a cute little house in downtown Cotati that was perfect for our needs!  It was just ½ a block off the main street, had a working kitchen, a fenced in backyard and a large back room so I could keep my kids with me during the day instead of putting them into daycare.  The front had a large room when you walked in.  This is where Lynn set up her shop, and then a small room off to the side where I set up my bead store!

Here is an image of the old shop.  It's a frame shop now.

But before we got to that point we had to come up with a business name.  Talk about a near impossible task!  We of course wanted something catchy and fun but nothing that would be too specific (although, now it would be nice to have the word beads in my official business name).  We read every album title we both owned, Lynn really wanted to name the store “Feelin’ Groovy” after the song made famous by Simon & Garfunkel.  While I loved the song, I thought the name might deter a few people from coming in to see what we were about.  The night before the final date that our business license needed to be submitted so we could open on schedule we all stayed up late tossing about names in the hopes that something would stick.  I was exhausted and had gotten to that silly place where you just giggle over nothing.  As Lynn said words, Shawn would look them up in a Thesaurus to see if anything sounded good.  Lynn said “Fanciful” and one of the words was “Whimsical”.  I tried to talk like Elmer Fudd (remember I was exhausted!  LOL) and said, “Out On A Whim”  playing off the title of Shirley MacLaine’s book titled Out On A Limb.  After days and days of us tossing about words, phrases, names we all got silent for a moment and Lynn proclaimed, “THAT’S IT!  OUT ON A WHIM!”  And so the business name was born.  We were both going into business on a whim, so it seemed a perfect fit!
Sadly, just 1 ½ years into it Lynn passed away suddenly.  I am happy she got to experience her dream of owning her own eclectic gift shop.  I just wish it had been for much longer!
I kept the bead store open and grew to take over both of the rooms in the front of the little house and then eventually when my kids all started school we moved across the street to the retail location we’ve been in now for 18+ years. 

Here's an image of the shop when we first moved across the street to the location we're still in now.

When it came time to start our website, I searched for Out On A Whim as a URL but it had already been taken by a novelty shop from Alabama.  So we added beads to the name and Whimbeads.com was born!

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to brand the URL because it is not easy having two business names, but for the most part folks are able to find us!
So, that’s the story of how we got our business name!  And I love that walk down memory lane remembering Lynn and how she helped us get started! 

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