Today’s Q&A comes from Tina, a really cool jeweler who casts many of her pendants in fine silver, basing them on vintage designs. She can recreate family heirlooms or bring them into the modern era if you’re looking for something that reminds you of a loved one or of your ancestry. Tina asks…
I was looking into FB to start an account and wouldn’t you know it, someone else has The Rustic Loft. I don’t know when it started or anything, doesn’t really matter I guess. I really think I will change my shop name eventually. What does someone do in this situation? – Tina Carey of The Rustic Loft
I’ve seen this happen before. People get excited when they think of a name that really encompasses their personality and their art, and they actually like it too. It’s easy to forget the other things that go into a good name. But it’s really very important that before you start your Etsy shop, or any branded part of your business, you ensure the name isn’t in use, at least legally so that you don’t infringe on someone else’s trademark which can be very expensive for you.
Do your research.
In the US, you can check online to see if the name is trademarked or otherwise registered with the government. Try starting with the USPTO for trademarks, registered and unregistered. Also Google for your desired name to see if someone is using it informally, which could hurt your brand (you’ll have to weigh the risk yourself). Other countries may have similar databases.
If it’s taken.
Absolutely don’t use someone else’s name. You can get in some legal hot water that results in lots of money and time sunk into dealing with the problem, plus totally having to rebrand or potentially losing your business altogether. This is a road you really, really don’t want to go down.
What I recommend for Tina.
It’s just as common for jewelers to have a fictitious name as it is for them to use their own name, so I would come up with a new name and go ahead and change your Etsy shop name. It could be something like Tina Carey Jewelry (simple and easy) or Carey Atelier (fancy, high-end) or you could go for something fun that really encapsulates what you do like A Modern Vintage or My Current Nostalgia with a tagline that is more specific about your creations. But you might do best trying out 2 or 3 names with chic bohemian types like your target market is, asking them what name they like best… that way you know the name resonates with your target market.
What are the repercussions?
If you change it soon, it’s unlikely anything will come of you using The Rustic Loft even if the other person found out about it. But technically, they can take legal action against you if you are infringing on their registered trademark (or an in-process trademark).
This naming thing is super important. I’m freaking out.
Ultimately, I will say that your name doesn’t matter a lot so long as it’s not off-putting or drastically different than the style of your work. We put a lot of emphasis and stress on naming our Etsy shops (I remember doing it when I opened my first Etsy shop too!!) and it’s another one of those little things we focus on and worry about instead of spending our time on the marketing, which is what really matters.
Seriously, you’re tricking yourself into avoiding the real work by fixating on these itty bitty “problems” that you’re the only one who notices.
What should you be spending your time on instead?
If you break your business down, there are three areas:
And you should be spending like 50% of your time on the marketing, around 40% on creating, and only 10% on admin. Choosing a name is totally admin work. But admin and creating are where artists feel comfortable, so we usually spend 70% of our time on creating, 25% on admin (and complain about it the whole time), and then only 5% on marketing.
Flip it around. Take care to watch where you’re spending too much time so you can adjust accordingly and you’ll notice your business starts to take off.