This week, your humble blogger welcomed a new son into his family. Naturally with this birth came a naming. Being the fourth child and third consecutive son, choosing a name was expectedly more difficult. A name both describes and prescribes. It not only embodies the person at the time of birth, but also becomes a factor in who he becomes.
All of this holds true to a business name. This blogger will resist the temptation to stray into the historical fog that surrounds the legal doctrine of corporate person-hood because (1) he hopes you are reading out of interest in kid’s sailor suits and (2) because Chandler Small & Co. is an unincorporated proprietorship. Nonetheless, a business name also has both descriptive and prescriptive roles.
To start with the descriptive, Chandler Small was not conceived of as a fictitious name, just as it is not the name of a fictitious legal person. Rather, Chandler is a title for one who sells supplies to a ship—a ship’s chandler. A 1930’s dictionary provided this definition: “a dealer in groceries, provisions, small wares, or the like; a dealer; as a ship chandler.” This was descriptive, when we set out it was merely to sell sailor suits; however, not finding one worth selling we set out to make one.
What about Small? The name was not chosen merely because it describes the size of our business, or those whom we’re outfitting, or its current revenue streams; rather, it was inspired by the most respectable children’s book character of all time—Mr. Small. In fact, the man always goes by a title: Fireman Small, Policeman Small, Captain Small, Papa Small, or in our case, Chandler Small.
Mr. Small is the creation of Lois Lenski a brilliant and quite prolific children’s author of the 1930’s. Although your blogger knows relatively little about Lois Lenski, he knows as much as anyone else about Mr. Small, having read most of the books in which he appears. The books can be appreciated on two levels: they are aesthetically delightful and their content is straightforward and true-to-life. The Little Sailboat, a sailing adventure centered on Captain Small, should be every tot’s first maritime story. It uses real nautical terminology to tell as story that is somehow magically ordinary: Captain Small goes sailing with his trusty dog Tinker, he falls overboard, runs into rough weather and nasty speed-boaters, and makes it safely back home to eat his catch for dinner. What give this seemingly inane storyline its force is the detail and realism of it. It could, or perhaps has, happened to this blogger, or to you.
That it is what defines Chandler Small and Co.’s sailor suits—detail and the sense of adventure that can be found in every day life with the right perspective. Like the scenes in the little sailboat, Chandler Small & Co.’s children’s sailor suits simply and vividly conjure something seemingly large that nevertheless manages to fit within the confines of our kids’ ordinary lives.