What’s in a name?

We’ve heard some funny variations of The Carrot Seed over the years from customers that can’t quite remember where they are shopping. A few of my favorites have been “The Onion Seed” and “The Carrot Stick”. But what’s with the name, “The Carrot Seed”? Where did that come from? What other names did we consider? We’ll give you all the details in this blog post, the first of our business-themed article series. We hope this behind-the-scenes look at The Carrot Seed with enlighten you, answer some questions, and maybe inspire you to try small business ownership for yourself.

Gathering Ideas

Back when The Carrot Seed was still just a silly idea, I started working on giving the research project a name so I could stop referring to it as the “maybe-kitchen-store-thing”. I was having a hard time working past my initial name idea of “Peppercorn Kitchen”. Peppercorn is one of my dog Jax’s middle names (along with P.Pup and Mr. Wiggoboddums), chosen because a few years prior I considered starting a wedding planning business named Peppercorn Events and named our dog “Jax Peppercorn Gjesdal” so I wouldn’t have to come up with an elaborate story of where the name came from. I just liked the word Peppercorn. Meanwhile this avoidance of deeper name meaning has become part of a larger elaborate story behind a completely different business’s name… Anyway, there were already a couple restaurants named “Peppercorn Kitchen” and a kitchenware store named “Peppercorn Gourmet” so I was back to day dreaming of new ideas. I compiled a list of other business names that I liked and a list of food terms that appealed to me.

A screenshot of my Word document of names of other stores and words I liked

In September 2014, my husband Mike and I went on a trip to Minneapolis to take a few cooking classes, visit the wholesale market, check out other kitchen stores, talk with a kitchen store owner, and generally gather inspiration and information about opening our own kitchenware store. We were excited (and scared) by the idea and we needed to take this four day trip to focus on obtaining knowledge to make an informed official decision on whether to officially pursue the idea or not. On the way there, I was in a group text with my entire family (mom, dad, two sisters and one brother), where they were suggesting name options for the potential business. There was a number of great ideas shared (NOT!) like “Kitchen Kaboodle” and “Kirsten’s Crap Store.” Clearly, my family was no help but it made for an entertaining drive.

Really truly, this is the only photo I have saved from the entire Minneapolis trip. Haha!

Finding the Name

When we arrived in Minneapolis, our first stop was a store call Hunt & Gather, a vintage amusement store filled with all sorts of new and old quirky items. My eye was drawn to a stack of quote cards that I dove into. The first card said “You should quit your day job.” The second card read “Don’t give up on your dreams.” I can’t remember exactly what the third card read, but it was something along the lines of “You can do it!” And then, the clouds parted, angels started singing, and a ray of sunshine lit one specific spot on the shelf. Just kidding…I turned the corner and there it was. A kid’s book called “The Carrot Seed”. I read the book, bought a copy, and settled on The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. a few days later.

Ruth Krauss’ Book

Did you read Harold and the Purple Crayon when you were little? It was one of our favorites when my family visited our grandparents’ house growing up. The Carrot Seed is written by the same woman, Ruth Krauss, and illustrated by the same man, Ruth’s husband Crockett Johnson, published in 1945. It’s a sweet story illustrated all in red and orange of a young boy who plants a single carrot seed. His mom, dad, and brother tell him not to bother caring for the seed as it will never grow into anything. The little boy weeds and waters his little garden plot until one day he harvests a massive carrot, large enough to fill an entire wheel barrow. The story is very quick, only about 100 words, but it shows the power of persistence, listening to your gut, and the joy of growing your own food, all traits I would need in the journey of bringing The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. to life.

Since opening the store in Brookings, I have made many connections to others over the name “The Carrot Seed”. Many people have memories of the book growing up or have a copy on their bookshelves for their own kids and grandkids. We have copies available in the shop and one at our kids table for the little ones to read while they wait for their parents. I have been gifted a few copies since opening, including a first edition print that I will cherish forever.

First edition copy is in back. Both of these were well loved in elementary schools before I received them.

Final Thoughts on The Carrot Seed

While I love the story of the little boy overcoming obstacles and sticking it out to prove his community wrong about the fate of his vegetable, it is the exact opposite of my story. The Brookings community, my family, and my business counterparts have been so incredibly supportive of our little kitchenware store. I have never been told “this won’t work” but instead a resounding “you can do this and we’ll help you!” I’m extremely grateful for the kind folks that help keep my little garden growing and hope it can continue to thrive for many years to come.

I leave you with a link to a song adaptation from the 1950’s, a longer version of the book. It’s a cute one! Click here to listen.

— Kirsten

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