The Hustle

What if You Pick the Wrong Name for Your Startup?

Hands & Feet is now Spoonful Apparel. The founder explains the decision to pivot 18 months after launch.

What if You Pick the Wrong Name for Your Startup?
T-shirts by Spoonful Apparel

We had both sensed big changes were needed for some time.  When my husband/business partner and I first saw blueprints for a new retail display, our intuition was confirmed: we were going to change everything.  Eighteen months into the business and we were going to start over.

The first, most important rule of marketing and communications is to be clear about who you are and what you do.  Our customers had been giving us incredibly valuable feedback about our name from the moment we launched. Countless conversations started with variations of the question, “What does Hands & Feet mean?”  Do you make gloves and socks? Do you provide mani/pedi services? Our all-time favorite: Does it have anything to do with hand, foot and mouth disease?

We knew we had an issue, but were initially reluctant to do something about it.  Fear, pride, ignorance, and frugalness were the primary actors holding us back from taking the critical, uncomfortable step we knew we had to take.

Behind the logo, color palette, primary and secondary fonts, branding really is about two things: clarity and commitment.  Clarity: do your customers know what you stand for? Commitment: do they believe in what you’re doing enough to vote with their time and attention?

When we launched our business in August of 2017, it felt like we were making a big commitment. In retrospect, it was probably closer to “let’s try this and see if it works” rather than anything resembling a firm commitment.  Since then, the stakes have increased and our commitment has intensified.  We’ve both left the careers we were immersed in to focus solely on the business.  We’ve made personal sacrifices with elements of our lifestyle for the sake of the business.  We’ve definitely given up any real separation between our work life and our home life. 

Our own personal and professional commitment is ultimately what pushed us to demand the same from our business.  We had a disconnect between our mission (feeding kids), our name, and ultimately our customers. If we were going to be “all in” our brand needed to follow suit. 

We started this business based on the belief that we have the joyful obligation to be of service to others - to use our hands to help, and our feet to go when we see an opportunity to help others.  Serving and helping others will continue to be the backbone of everything we do.

So why Spoonful Apparel?  

1.  Clarity and alignment to mission:  Our mission is to provide meals for children in need by creating apparel that allows people to look good, do good, and feel inspired about making an impact in their communities.

2.  Connection to core values: One of our core values is hope.  We intend to restore a feeling of hope, one spoonful at a time, for the 13 million-plus kids in the United States who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

3.  Whimsical and fun:  Our sole focus is to serve kids.  We wanted the brand to look and feel playful, creative, and energetic - the same way we’d describe a thriving child!

We’re absolutely thrilled with the new brand and are more committed to our mission than ever before.  We love the energy that is captured in our new color palette. We smile when we see the playful script of our new logo.  We feel a sense of confidence now that all of the pieces fit together. In this season of change, we’re most proud of the fact that our hands continue to help, and our feet continue to follow the path that is being laid out in front of us!
 

    Susan Elwer
    Spoonful Apparel

    While working as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool classroom, Susan Elwer got      inspired to fight childhood hunger. Spoonful Apparel, which she founded with            her husband Eric Elwer, gives 50 percent of all profits to the cause.

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