Choosing your business name is almost like being able to choose your own name. It is the first thing people know about you – the cover of your book. If I were a marketer I could go on and on about the science of choosing a business name, but I’m not, so I’ll share my personal process of choosing the Pomona Woods name.
As I started thinking about the retreat name, I considered a number of options. The name could be place based, referring to something specific about the property or it’s location. Although I like these types of names, I needed to decide on a name before I’d purchased property so that wouldn’t work. There are also many hospitality businesses with names like Alder this or Cedar that, so it didn’t feel special and unique. Next, I considered naming it after an animal or bird I would see on the property, but again, I wanted a name before finding the property. Plus, I didn’t think it would help me stand out. How many Heron and Kingfisher businesses have you seen?
Related to a place-based name I briefly considered a name used by one of the local Salish Tribes. Although it would be done out of deep respect and honor, it felt like cultural appropriation, and that wouldn’t fit with my personal or business values. I also considered a name that might relate to why people will come to my retreat, but the reasons will be as diverse as my future guests, so that felt limiting.
That left me with the most personal choice of all, something related to my own name or family heritage. I didn’t want to use my last name, but the thinking led me to my great-grandparents, Fannie Storie and James Dumas. I have always loved one of the apple crate labels from their orchard. As you can see in the picture accompanying this article, it had a big image of a light pink apple blossom with a honey bee arriving to feed from, and pollinate it. It made me want to go to their orchard and hear more of the interesting stories about their lives.
Fannie and James each moved to the Washington Territory in the late 1880s. They were educated teachers when they married but decided to get advanced teacher training back in Oswego College in upstate New York. After graduation they took jobs in Hawaii training teachers, but left after a falling out because James supported Queen Lili‘uokalani and the royalty over the pro-territorial administrations. Upon returning to Dayton, WA in 1897 they planted Pomona Ranch, growing it to 100 acres and starting a five-generation attachment to Washington State.
I loved this story of independence, education, entrepreneurship, adventure and standing up for what they felt was right. (Of course the irony of standing up for the Queen but benefiting from low priced Western land at the expense of local tribes is not lost on me.) The thought of channeling their entrepreneurial energy and love of the land filled me up, and I knew I had landed on the right name inspiration. After playing with Pomona Meadows, Forest and Woods I chose Pomona Woods. It is fitting that I did because it seemed to manifest the property I bought – deeply wooded with trees of diverse species and age with a rich understory.
In this forest I can imagine the namesake Roman wood nymph Pomona emerging from among the trees to inspire abundance in my future kitchen garden. She was the goddess of fruit trees and orchards and always carried a pruning knife to tend to their needs. Pomona focused on nurturing the earth over marriage (until being tricked by Vertumnus) and was one of the Numina – the Roman mythological guardian spirits who watched over people, homes, and special places.
Pomona’s legacy that I hope to bring to my guests is to embody a nurturing place to grow ideas, knowledge and connections. Coming from a family heavily populated with teachers, preachers, farmers and public servants, Pomona Woods is also my way of continuing a familial legacy by creating a place for renewal, regeneration, inspiration and healing. Groups will come to Pomona Woods for many different reasons but the connection to the healing powers of nature will be foundational to their experience.