My business name and logo were created entirely separate from one another. And neither were created to ever be used with an actual business.
"OklaRoots" was created as a name for a public Instagram account. I had just heard of a sew along (100 quilt blocks in 100 days) and not only would this be a fun way to learn how to sew, but I could win prizes! I think we all know the draw of social media and giveaways. Since I didn't want to use any personal information, I had to come up with some random name to participate in this event. I assumed the account would be deleted after the sew along was done.
I grew up an Air Force brat, so we moved around a lot. At the time of the sew along I had been living in Oklahoma for over 10 years, was newly married and had started a family. I thought for sure that was going to be where I really laid down some roots. Hence, Okla - Roots.
Not the most thrilling story. Again, I was planning for this to be a temporary thing.
As the 100 days of quilt block making continued, I found myself making other items as well. And I really wanted to stamp my makes. Not for business or resale, I just wanted there to be something on my quilts and bags that showed I made it.
At first I purchased some simple artwork off of Etsy that I liked. A year before this new Instagram account I experienced the loss of my dog, May May. She was my best friend, my roommate in college, my partner in all my major life events. She drove to Las Vegas with my husband and I for our wedding and fiercely protected our family. Her passing was extremely hard for me. So when I came across some artwork of a cartoon fox that looked similar to her, I figured that would be a great image to attach to my handmade items.
And while using images purchased off the internet is fine for your personal logo, it gets a little tricky if you want to incorporate it into a business. There's just a feeling that it isn't really customized to you. If you work so hard to make a business, you want each of the foundational elements to feel personal.
So I pulled out a photo of May May, loaded it into Adobe Illustrator, and started tracing her face.
I traced dozens of images of her, adjusted each hundreds of times. I knew I wanted a simplified version, enough to look like her but also something that would be easy to use in many substrates.
After months of sketching and playing with basic shapes, I created these first images for OklaRoots. My girl May May was now apart of everything I made.
I'll tangent from the logo real quick to mention that once I realized I wanted to test the waters of the small business world, I did consider changing the name. OklaRoots was created on a quick whim, it wasn't meant to represent me as a business. I came up with so many off-the-wall random names. Especially when I started my YouTube Channel, now living in Florida, I thought for sure OklaRoots wouldn't work.
I thought about using my personal name for my channel, which is very popular. But I knew my content wasn't a personal vlog. There was a purpose and direction and I didn't want to become the subject matter of my social media accounts. I wanted what I did to be the subject. So I stuck with OklaRoots.
I remember commenting in a chat of another channel's live, and when they addressed me they had a difficult time figuring out how to say OklaRoots, or what that meant. That's when I decided there needed to be a bit of Jess in the name, so I adjusted the channel to Jess OklaRoots. Groundbreaking, right?
In December of 2019, I experienced the passing of another companion. My white labrador baby Becka became suddenly ill and despite the effort of so many veterinarians, she passed away quickly in our home. Becka, May May and I were a team for so long. These girls lived with me when I lived alone in my first house, they ran all the errands with me, took care of our family, comforted my husband and I during difficult seasons. The loss of Becka felt like the loss of a huge part of my life. My life before... everything. It was another really hard pill to swallow.
To help ease my grief, I pulled up some photos of my girl in Adobe Illustrator, and started sketching her out. Just like I did with May May. These girls were as much a part of my young adult life as my own name, and I wanted them to both be a part of everything I did moving forward.
And that's how the logo changed, to incorporate both my girls.
As someone who has battled anxiety and depression my entire life, I can tell you that I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for those two dogs. They made a permanent stamp on my heart, and all of my family's as well. So stamping them on to bags, hats, quilts... it's really something else. Seeing photos of customers happily wearing their hats, with my May May and Becka on them, all over the world. I can't even explain that feeling. It's inspiring and heartwarming and beyond words.
So my advice to you: don't be in a rush to find the perfect name and logo. Don't order 1000 business cards with a hacked business name and an image you downloaded off the internet (I speak from experience). If you're starting a business, think about these items constantly, jot down ideas daily, but give yourself time to really settle on it. And remember, you can always change and modify as you grow. A business is like another being in your life, you don't know it perfectly at the beginning. It takes time.
And if you're stressed because you need a business name for filing purposes, you can always use your last name as your business name. If you purchase from online retailers and use PayPal, you may notice that the name on the transaction is not the same name as the name of the business. This could be for a variety of reasons, but sometimes it's because they changed their name at one point.
You'll notice I say "give it time" a lot in this series. It's not the advice we always want when we're feeling the motivation and ready to conquer the world of entrepreneurial business. But it's going to serve you 1000% if you move quick as slow as possible.