What’s In A Name: The Stories Behind Brand Monikers

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we asked 13 beauty brand founders and executives: How did you choose your brand name?

Tiffany Masterson Founder, Drunk Elephant

It took me a long time to come up with the name, and I remember every good idea I thought I had and got excited about was already taken. As I was choosing ingredients, I came across marula oil. I loved the way it soaked in and felt on my skin. I went home and googled it and found videos on YouTube of the elephants eating marula fruit and getting tipsy, so that was in the back of my head. The myth is that the African animals eat the fallen marula fruit and become drunk. Probably not true, but certainly made for a catchy, lighthearted name. It came to me like, “I can't call it Drunk Elephant, can I?” I said that to a few friends. A few said, “Yes, you can!” But some others said, “No way.” It was controversial from the very beginning, and the reaction I was getting sort of sealed the fate of it. I realized at some point that it hit every right marketing note I could think of: immediately captured people's curiosities, made people ask what and why and, once understood, would never be forgotten. I was told early on to change the name, and it turns out it's one of my most valuable assets.

Keli Smith Founder and Owner, Kaike

I was considering a few other names, none of which I really loved, when my husband just randomly said that I should name it Cake. I'd shared with him my mission and what I wanted the brand to be, and once he said it, it was like an aha moment for me.  Of course I should name it Cake. I didn't want to spell it normally though. I decided to spell it Kaike to pay homage to my family. My husband and I, and our four children, all have names that start with K.  My entire purpose for becoming an entrepreneur is for my family, to be more available for my children, and to create products designed for our family's well-being. It was only fitting that the name start with a K.

Aston LaFon Co-Founder, 18.21 Man Made

The 18.21 namesake was inspired by the 18th and 21st amendments of the United States Constitution, which started and ended the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the early 1900s. In the era of prohibition, the booticians fulfilled the demand for alcohol, so we became inspired by the spirit of prohibition era bootlegging to craft grooming mixtures that the society of men will take pride in owning. The roaring rebellion of the prohibition era underground is core to our movement and is reflected in the uncommon experience we provide to our supporters. Whiskey wash, beer can hair spray and a sweet tobacco aroma profile are directly reminiscent of a night out in a swanky speakeasy lounge.


Jenefer Palmer Founder, OSEA

I thought about a name for over three years. My background was in natural healing and, in my mind, I kept coming back to the elements. Then it came to me: OSEA. Each letter represents the core elements of wellness: Ocean. Sun. Earth. Atmosphere.

Amanda Javier Founder, Witch in the Wild

Naming my brand was a painful process. I was looking for something that tied in our appreciation for the earth as well as our appreciation for the women that we make our products for. Taking both things into account, I tried all sorts of combinations that were feminine, yet strong with an emphasis on natural or botanical.  Nothing stuck until I started using the term witch.  I’ve always admired the witch archetype: powerful, feminine, not to be messed with. That’s precisely the kind of women I knew I wanted to build a community around. I also knew the controversy around using the word witch would ruffle a few feathers. I identify as a witch myself and know this first hand. I see this controversy as an opportunity to start conversations about the way that we value the femininity in our society, and to encourage women to feel supported in unconventional, unusual and wild pursuits.

Ahlam Abbas CEO and Founder, Dirty Lamb

I am a Palestinian woman with a difficult name to pronounce. Growing up I was called Lam, and it stuck. Originally Dirty Lamb was just a play on words regarding my organic coffee scrub and nickname, but it turned into more than that. To me, dirty stands for imperfect and rough around the edges. It described me. I wanted to embrace my differences to the fullest and wanted my customers to do the same. I find imperfections fun. It’s what makes you unique. You need imperfections to grow and face challenges to become a stronger person. I wanted to give my customers products that were going to boost their confidence as well as make them worry free of what ingredients they were using on their bodies. Dirty Lamb speaks to both men and women. We are aimed towards everyone and their differences. The affordable but luxurious ingredients are what makes us stand out, and I needed a name to match.

Shanee Pink Creative Director, ORLY

The brand was named after my mother, Orly Pink. She started the company together with my Dad, Jeff Pink, in 1975. Her name means "a light for me" or "my light" in Hebrew. When they first launched the brand, Orly was the one creating and mixing all the lacquer colors. She set the tone and identity for the brand and its visuals, making her the original creative director. Orly is a strong, multifaceted woman who values quality as much as variety. She is not afraid to express herself. Her style is classic cool with a twist. The brand reflects these qualities in everything we do.

Emilie Hoyt President and Founder, Lather

I came up with the name Lather with help from a dear friend of mine, Matt, who actually ended up working for the company. I was having a conversation about my plans for launching the line and thinking of some names that I wasn’t really excited about. I mentioned to him that I wanted a name that expressed how good it can feel to use amazing products on your body. He was quiet for a minute and then said, "Lather."  I loved it. Later, I was amazed we were able to get a trademark, but we did, and I’ll always be grateful to him.

Christy Nichols Founder, Clover & Bee

When I was a young girl, I fondly remember playing in my grandmother’s back yard and picking clover flowers and making clover crowns and laying in the grass watching the bees flying from flower to flower collecting nectar. One day my grandmother came outside and began to read me a poem that she said reminded her of me when she watched me make my flower crowns. The poem she read was Emily Dickinson's "To make a prairie." Since our hero ingredient is honey, I knew right away that I would name my brand Clover & Bee Skincare because of the fond memories I had of my childhood summers spent in my grandmother’s back yard. Designing our brand image, we included the poem on our labels for an added touch. 

Gayatri Pradhan Founder and CEO, Poéthique

Poéthique (pronounced po-eth-eek) is a made-up word inspired by ​'peau éthique', French for ethical skincare. This was not my first choice and an example of a setback turning into something better than before. I'd envisioned creating a luxury brand with a strong ethical backbone. To stay true to this vision, the names I picked were some form of shorthand for luxury or green beauty. I tested the names on friends and also against the United States Patent and Trademark Office database to make sure I wasn't infringing on someone else's name. After shortlisting three names, I decided to hire a lawyer to do a more thorough check. She gave me the all-clear on one of the names, and we went ahead and registered it. Within a day of it getting published in the register, I got a letter from a big name law firm representing a big name pharmaceutical company. Apparently, the lawyer’s search had not been thorough enough and my chosen name was one letter off from an anti-itch cream from big pharma's portfolio. So I went back to the drawing board and ultimately came up with this beautiful name which actually turned out to be much better than the first one.

Alyssa Tucker Founder, Hydro Kitty

I actually came up with the name and logo a couple of years before officially founding the company. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do in the cannabis industry and enjoyed growing hydroponically. I had a growing list of names that I kept in the Notes app in my phone and once "Hydro Kitty" was added, it kept sticking out to me as a fun name that was easy to say and could evolve with whatever the company would become. I made the logo myself using my cat's face. I'd say the logo is still evolving since, as a designer, I am always wanting to tweak it. Eventually, you just gotta run with something though.

Kapua Browning Founder, Honua

When thinking of a name for our brand, I felt it was only fair to give credit where credit was due. Our name means earth or land. Mother Earth is the heart of our company, the foundation of where our botanicals are born. Like the ancient Hawaiians, we also believe it is our duty to care for our honua (earth/land), which provides for us. So, our name also reminds us of our duty to give back to the earth by supporting farmers who are cultivating and perpetuating our Hawaiian plants for future generations by donating a percentage of our proceeds to replenish native plants, support the education of Hawaiian culture and promote self-sustainability, and by using packaging that is compostable and and made with vegetable ink, wind energy and above all, aloha. The leaf is also very meaningful, it is a kalo or taro leaf. According to Hawaiian genealogy, Hāloanakalaukapalili was the first kalo plant and was considered to be the older sibling of the first born Hawaiian Hāloa. It is said that all Hawaiians trace their roots back to Hāloa. This means that we are all mamo na Hāloa or descendants of Hāloa. Through our relationship to Hāloa, we are related to the kalo or taro, the ʻāina, and the rest of the natural world. We are all connected to the honua, the earth and the land.

Jennifer Botto Founder, Thorn & Bloom

The name Thorn & Bloom reflects our philosophy that nature knows best. We choose to work holistically, using natural aromatics in their purest forms with as little human manipulation as possible. Working with a whole essence often means having to embrace an ingredients full aromatic spectrum, including all the quirky nuances that some may find to be an acquired taste. Take jasmine, for instance, which has a high degree of naturally occurring indole, a molecule also found in human feces. Indole is often described as animalistic and musky. Synthetic perfumers can choose to create a jasmine perfume with as much or as little indole as they like, simply by adding or subtracting synthetic indole. Natural perfumers, on the other hand, without the ability to alter the indole content, will use the whole jasmine essence. Thorn & Bloom embraces these naturally occurring nuances, the thorns, if you will. We believe that imperfection can elevate beauty in surprising and spectacular ways, and helps to ground our work by keeping it authentic and substantive. To quote Anne Brontë, “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to editor@beautyindependent.com.