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How My Unnamed Dream Store Became

How My Unnamed Dream Store Became "Hazel & Rose"

When I began thinking about my future shop, it was easy to envision the product, the space, and the shoppers, but it was surprisingly difficult to find a name that matched that vision. It can be difficult to find a title that is concise, unique, and suits the brand. 

The following is how my unnamed dream store became HAZEL & ROSE.

From the beginning, I knew that the most important feature of my store was its dedication to sustainability, and I wanted to make that clear in the shop name. My first thought was "evergreen". It was simple, easy, and came with a nod to my home, where the state tree is the Red Pine (a little Minnesota trivia for you) and evergreen varieties populate much of the landscape. It also provided a meaning beyond its surface - "evergreen" had a clear tie to nature, but it also communicated a sense of lasting life and quality, something that I hoped every item in my store would demonstrate.

Unfortunately, one Google search and "evergreen" was dismissed. There was a reason that idea came to me so quickly - "evergreen" is everywhere. I would have needed to add more words to differentiate myself and properly register as a new business, and I wanted to keep it simpler than that. Back to the drawing board.

In the spirit of keeping it simple, I decided to look to other languages for my shop name (that is sarcasm. Another language is not simple, as I soon came to realize). I loved the idea of words in other languages that do not directly translate to English, and focused on Nordic languages to remain close to my heritage. My favorite that I found was "gökotta," roughly translated from Swedish to mean "to wake up early in the morning with the intent to enjoy birds singing". How perfectly lovely is that? That word, by the way, is pronounced, "yo-KOT-tuh," which you probably would not have known if you didn't speak Swedish; I quickly learned that Nordic languages are difficult to read and pronounce for non-Nordic speakers. As wonderful as that word is, I thought it would be better for my store if people could say its name out loud.

OK, so gökotta was out, but there had to be other Nordic words that would work, right? I found one more that I really loved during my search, and that word was "bevisst," (pronounced "beh-VEEST") which translates from Norwegian to "conscious". Straightforward, and easier to pronounce for non-Norwegian speakers (though still a little tricky). I started shopping this name around with friends and family, asking them what they thought about the word without providing any context. All replies were something like, "I don't know what that word means," or, "It sounds like 'beast,'" or, "Does it have to do with a beverage?". I answered by telling them what the word meant in English, and was usually met with an, "Ohhh... OK, I like that now," which seemed promising, and I started to push forward. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it was really best for a new business to have to explain its name for anyone to understand. A little intrigue with a name is great, but zero fundamental understanding without explanation? Not so great.

I reluctantly abandoned the idea of another language. I had loved the idea of connecting my personal history and the ethos of my store. How was I going to do that now?

The answer now seems so obvious - I looked to my own family. Hazel and Rose are two of my great-grandmothers, my parents' mothers' mothers. Hazel Feiten née Harris was born in Minnesota in 1897 and Ragnild "Rose" Larson née Sperstad was born 1893 in Norway (she changed her name to "Rose" when she came to the States). I didn't have the opportunity to meet either great-grandmother; Hazel passed away in 1987, the year I was born, and Rose passed away in 1938, when my grandmother was just twelve years old. Although I did not know either of them, I have benefit from their legacy. I would not be who I am today were it not for my parents, who owe it to their parents, who owe it to theirs.

What made Hazel & Rose an even better fit was that both words are also found in nature and offer health and beauty benefits: witch hazel is used as a natural astringent and rose water can be used as a natural fragrance and moisturizer (more on natural skincare in future posts...).

I had finally found a shop name that was personal, meaningful, and connected to what I wanted my shop to represent.

This process of naming my business was certainly an exercise in patience and thoughtfulness, but that is exactly what I needed to ensure it was done right. This is a name that I want to live on and hopefully grow, and if I had rushed into selecting it, I'm sure I would have been left with something that I wished I could change. Research helped, asking around for the opinions of others helped, and looking inward helped.

Plus, my grandmothers are very pleased.

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