That PNW Shop

Wondering what’s up with That PNW Shop?  Find out here!

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April 8, 2016 – Naming The Baby

Got a business idea?  One of the first things you’ll need to figure out is what to name it.

Choosing a name can be very fun, and also very frustrating, but there are important things you can’t do until you have a name.  Things like getting a business license, a DBA, an EIN if you’ll have employees, a business bank account, and of course the fun website and social media stuff.

It seems simple enough, just pick one, but there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a name, and the pressure of picking the right one can be paralyzing.  It’s certainly a big decision, but at some point you just have to pick or you’ll never get the business off the ground.  Fizzle.co has a great article on this, How to Name Your Business, and explains how sometimes it’s about choosing the least-worst option.  Apparently that’s what happened with Apple, and look how well that turned out!

DOMAIN

While brainstorming names I like to have GoDaddy open so I can immediately see if the domain name is available, that way I don’t get my heart set on something and start dreaming up branding ideas only to find out someone else is already using the website address.  I’d rather crush my name dreams as fast as possible and move on!

SOCIAL MEDIA

If I find a name I like and the domain is available, the next thing I check are the top social media platforms to see if it’s available as a username.  Instead of checking each one individually, there is a great tool called namecheckr that will check them all at once, well, most of them.  This actually checks domain availability as well but for some reason I prefer to do that separately, I’m super logical and efficient like that.

Just put in the name and it will come back with a green check mark if it’s available, a red no circle if it’s already being used, and a gray exclamation point in a triangle if there is an error.  The error usually happens when that platform has a character limit to usernames and yours is too long – for example, Twitter has a 15 character limit so if your business name is 20 characters then you’d get the error message and would need to modify your username on that particular platform.

Personally, I like to keep my name the same across all platforms to make it as easy as possible for customers to find me wherever they go, but if you have to modify it’s not the end of the world so don’t stress about it too much.  Name length is just one of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when brainstorming.

Speaking of social media, I am a believer that even if you don’t plan to use a certain platform it’s still a good idea to create an account there.  By doing so you can snag your business name to protect your brand identity, preventing someone else from using it and taking advantage of your popularity.  If that platform grows or if a lot of your customers are there you may decide to use it later on, and at the very least you can use the profile section to let your customers know “hey, thanks for following, come check us out on <insert preferred platform here>”.

GOOGLE

I would also suggest you Google the name and see what pops up.  If another company is using a similar name you’ll need to figure out if it’s similar enough that it’s going to confuse customers, especially if it’s in the same industry.  You’re also looking to make sure it’s not a name that has a slang meaning you’re unaware of.  Looking it up on Urban Dictionary might be a good idea, just don’t hang out there too long or you’ll be emotionally scarred for life and need intensive therapy.

STATE REGISTRY

Don’t forget to check your state’s business registry to confirm it’s available locally.  It’s a pretty good bet that if the domain and social media are available then nobody else is using it, but you’ll need to check since you’ll be needing to register your business with your state.  If you’re in Oregon you can search here, otherwise just Google your state + business registry search.

TRADEMARK SEARCH

It’s also a good idea to check the Trademark Database (TESS) and make sure it’s not trademarked.  If the name is available everywhere else it probably hasn’t been trademarked, but it only takes a second to check.

THAT PNW SHOP

Thankfully, “That PNW Shop” was one of my first thoughts, and luckily it was available everywhere I needed it to be.  I like it because it’s simple, easy to pronounce, easy to remember, easy to say, easy to spell, and it doesn’t require any clarifications like “That PNW Shoppe but shoppe has two p’s and an e”.  It’s only 11 characters so I knew it would work on those social media platforms with 15 character limits.  It also says exactly what it is… if you hear “That PNW Shop” you’re going to think of a shop that carries stuff from or about the PNW.  Right?  No, seriously, right?  Please tell me that’s what it makes you think of!

The hashtag #thatpnwlife is very popular on social media and I like to think that people into “that pnw life” would shop at That PNW Shop.  Imagining a storefront someday, I also thought it would be fun to say “hey, let’s go to That PNW Shop!”.  It’s almost like you forgot the name of it, you just remember it has the goods from the PNW.

I’ve even got this Abbott and Costello scene in my head (you know A&C, don’t you?  Who’s on First?):

Girl #1 – “Hey, what was that shop with the cool PNW shirts?”
Girl #2 – “That PNW Shop.”
Girl #1 – “Yeah, it had all sorts of stuff from the PNW, remember?”
Girl #2 – “Yeah, That PNW Shop.”
Girl #1 – “Right, the shop with all the PNW stuff, what was it called?”
Girl #2 – “That PNW Shop.”
Girl #1 – “Yes, that PNW shop we went to, what was it called??”
Girl #2 – “That. P. N. W. Shop.”
Girl #1 – “Forget it, you don’t remember either, let’s just go there, okay!”
Girl #2 – “Go to That PNW Shop?”
Girl #1 – “Yes, let’s go to that PNW shop!”

 

Don’t you wish you were in my brain?  Let me know if you have any questions, although I’ve already picked a name so at this point I’m not taking any criticism, okay?

Kind of like when parents don’t tell you the baby name until the baby arrives.  Makes it harder to say “Rainbowlalaloopsy is a terrible name” when you’re staring at sweet little Rainbowlalaloopsy’s cherub face.

Don’t worry, they call her Loo for short.

I know.

Just go with it.

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If you do have some feedback on the name I’m open to hearing it :)

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Have you taken the survey yet?  It’s 20 quick questions, mostly about your favorite shirt styles so it should be pretty easy.  If you can spare a minute or two to fill it out I’ll love you forever!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thatPNWshop

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April 1, 2016 – Let’s Start A Business

Nope, this is not an April Fools’ joke, I promise!

Back in college I majored in business because I wanted to be a ‘business woman’.  This might date me, but in my head was an image of Diane Keaton in Baby Boom (and shoulder pads).  For some reason though, I thought I wanted to be the boardroom version of her character, when it’s actually the baby food business I wanted.

Looking back it’s easy to see that I have always wanted to own my own business, and I think it has something to do with seeing my Dad own his.  He had an electrician business where I would play secretary and learned the valuable life lesson of how staplers work (put one through my thumb, but only did it once).  He also had a video store and I would hang out in the back watching movies and stocking shelves (remember VHS tapes?).

The business ideas have varied, often based upon where I was in life and my interests at the time – wedding planner, realtor, baby clothing boutique, yoga instructor.  I even tried a few home-based MLM type businesses (PartyLite, ThirtyOne, Demarle) but decided that business model wasn’t right for me.  I started Bella Joy Creations with a friend; we sold jewelry and did the craft fair circuit but ultimately my heart wasn’t in it and I bowed out.  I went through training to be a Doula which felt like 100% the right thing, and then very suddenly and very clearly felt like 100% the wrong thing.  I am thankful the message was clear, but it still threw me for a loop.  While none of those businesses were right, I also know that I made a lot of excuses based on fear and self-doubt which is something I am still working on.

One idea that has always been around is a brick and mortar shop, an actual physical storefront to stock displays and welcome customers.  Sometimes I imagine it’s a coffee+tea shop, sometimes a cafe, sometimes a bookstore, sometimes it’s a combo.  Probably because I have actually worked at a bookstore and a bakery so I’m pulling from what I already know (and I do love books and coffee and tea and baked goods).

I still love those ideas but I’m not sure I would have the passion to pull them off long-term, so the last few years I’ve been thinking a lot about what I *am* passionate about.  Honestly, it’s been a struggle.  I have spoken before on my personal blog about struggling with depression and how it affects me with feelings of apathy.  After so long of feeling mostly nothing, it was hard to see that I was passionate about anything at all.  The more I really thought about it though, and purposefully looked at what kinds of things sparked joy inside of me (including what types of accounts I was following on Instagram), I realized that I really, really, really love the Pacific Northwest.

I lived near Seattle from 3rd-12th grade, then moved to Oregon for college and never left.  I love the green, the trees, the mountains, the ocean, the rain, the four distinct seasons, and there is so much of the area that I haven’t even explored yet.  There are also a lot of great makers and artisans in the PNW turning out some beautiful products.

This is when my brain started to get excited.  I live about 20 minutes outside of Portland and we have absolutely no unique shopping options.  If I wanted to pick up a gift for someone it would be a generic Target or Fred Meyer item they could have bought themselves.  A week later they’d be walking the aisles of Target and see the gift and think “oh, so this is where she got it, and that’s how much she paid”.

Sure, there is great shopping in Portland, but driving into the city, finding parking, doing the shopping, and getting back home could easily take two hours or more.  I’m not always great at planning ahead, so if I wanted to pick something up quick I’m out of luck, but what if there was a store featuring fun, interesting, unique items made in the PNW?  That’s certainly a place I would want to shop, and yes, I know there are similar stores, but again, they’re nowhere near me.  This is how That PNW Shop was born.

The only problem is that I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on leasing a storefront, and just the thought of meeting rent payments gives me anxiety.  I’m bootstrapping this and don’t plan to use debt to finance the business, so we’re going to start slow and online.  I realize that defeats the point of my quick and unique shopping option in town, but I’m thinking I could work out some sort of pick-up/delivery plan for locals.  If you know of any online shops doing that, please let me know so I can chat with them!

I’ll be starting with women’s apparel; t-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts most likely.  I am currently finalizing the designs of the first collection and if goes well I’ll launch a few more apparel collections to build up business and then eventually be able to carry product from those amazing PNW makers I mentioned.  I love the idea of working in a podcast interviewing those makers, and I still think a physical storefront would be a lot of fun someday.

This idea has been in my head for a while, I actually bought the domain almost a year ago.  When I quit my job in December I decided to stop wondering “what if” and just go for it, so here we are.

I am currently planning to launch late Spring / early Summer, and I thought it would be fun to bring you along for the ride.  I plan to blog my way through the process which some may think is too much information, but I know it’s info I would love to read from other businesses, so why not?  It’s hard work getting a business up and running, so I’m going to share the nitty-gritty and you can ask questions and we can get to know each other!  Sound good?  Great!

Stay tuned… the fun, and the hard work, are just beginning.

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Have you taken the survey yet?  It’s 20 quick questions, mostly about your favorite shirt styles so it should be pretty easy.  If you can spare a minute or two to fill it out I’ll love you forever!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thatPNWshop

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