A little honesty...

I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words what has been going on with my business, thinking that I could come up with some great way to share some not-so-great news. I thought about spinning it into a really positive thing, and brushing over the truth, like this is what I wanted to do, but that would be hard to do if I were telling you in person. In person, I might tear up or full out cry, because this is something that I am sad about, so I think I’ll share as I might if we were talking over coffee – but you are spared the tears and tissues. Sorry to those who have not been so lucky.

In the next few weeks, I will be changing my business name.

Let me explain a bit. In January, my husband and trusty COO/CEO/doer of all the work that I ask him to do, began the process of trademarking Palm Papers. I always felt like it was something I needed to do, especially now that it’s my full time salary. We hired a lawyer and got the process started and pretty much immediately hit an extremely huge roadblock. Turns out, there already existed a trademarked business that was in legal trademark world, EXACTLY me. No huge web presence or social media presence, no way for me to have found them on my own, but trademarked in the 80s. Not only could I not trademark my name, but now I knew that this business existed that could one day discover me and send a cease and desist in 2 months? 5 years? Never? It scared me and I didn’t know what to do. After seeking advice from some generous lawyer friends, endless discussions with my husband and a tiny shred of hope that I could hold on to my business name, we decided to reach out to the business and see if we could coexist, which obviously was a failed effort, which makes sense – why was I trademarking myself to begin with… I would have said no as well. I don’t have any ill will towards them at all, just the situation that I ended up in.

I have gone through so many emotions with this news – the biggest one is sadness for the loss of my business name. The other is dread. All the work that it takes to change my name makes my head spin. But I am working on getting over it, and have had a lot of encouragement that in the end, my business name is not my business. I am my business and my designs are my business and that part is not going to change. No one cares what name I am designing under. If you’ve worked with me or follow me on instagram/twitter/facebook, I hope I never alluded to the fact I was a big business. It’s just me. Responding to emails, designing proofs, answering questions, packing up orders - all me. Working one on one with my clients is a huge part of what I sell and I know that in the end, that’s the part that matters and a business name is just a name. So, I think the only natural thing to do is to design under my own name.  In the near future, I will be changing to Lauren Chism Fine Papers. You might already notice the changes on Minted and partially on MyPublisher, but my website, email and facebook page will all be changing over the next few weeks.

I still go through the whole – ‘I wish I had never tried to trademark my business’ – or ‘I wish I had found this out when I chose Palm Papers – why didn’t I trademark it immediately’, but I don’t think there’s any way it could have happened. I named my business before I had any dream of doing it full time… spending $2k to trademark it wasn’t really possible and while it seems like it could be, ignorance is not bliss when you receive a cease-and-desist letter. This way, I have time. Time to make changes, time to figure out the details and slowly transition to the new name.

I have been in quite a rut on the blog lately due to all this and I am ready to come out of it and start sharing stuff again. I already feel like a weight has been lifted as I type this and I think sharing with people just might be the first step to putting all this behind me.  I am hopeful that it will be what is best for me somehow – even though I can’t quite see the benefit as I am working through the details and pains of making the change. Right now, it just sucks!

So there you have it. Honesty. Can someone get me a tissue?

Posted on April 5, 2013 and filed under Business.