When Beau Jessup, a 16-year-old student from England, was asked to give an English name to a newborn baby during a family trip to China, she came up with an idea for a website that’s earned her £48,000.
Some parents in China like to give their children English names along with their Chinese ones for future study or business in English-speaking countries. Jessup told the BBC she was surprised when her father’s friend asked her to name his baby during that trip. “I’m not really qualified or relevant enough in that baby’s life to be the person to give it a name,” she said.
But then she learned that the restricted access to western culture in China had led to some pretty unusual English names for some children. “Being exposed to luxury items and things like Harry Potter, Disney films and Lord of the Rings means they use those for reference. I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella.” To be fair, though, Chinese parents aren’t the only ones guilty of picking names from…unorthodox sources.
Jessup wanted to put as much care and thought into picking an English name for a child as their parents would put into choosing a Chinese name. Her website, Special Name, asks users to pick five of twelve personality traits they hope for their baby to have, similarly to how a Chinese name is selected. They get three names to choose from for paying about the equivalent of 80 cents, and these names are shared with family and friends before the final decision is made. Each suggestion also comes with a certificate with its meaning and an example of a famous person who shares the name printed on it.
Jessup is pleased and surprised by the website’s success. “It’s nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a baby’s life,” she said. “I wanted to do it just to see if an idea could turn into more than just simply an idea. It is obviously a nice surprise, but it is definitely a surprise.”