What's In a Name

by Jill Peters

I am a leather bag designer, maker and collector.  I am trying to be a leather bag seller.  In trying to come up with a business name, I was reminded of my first year out of college, when I moved into an apartment in Ballard with my friend Alysonn.  “Sweet Butter” was a saying she used.  Only she said it like “Sa-wheat Buttah!  There were A LOT of “Sweet Butter” times to be had in Ballard, and we had them all.  As usually happens, we grew up and she moved to California, where she lives today, but the friendship and the expression stuck with me and both have been my favorites for almost 30 years.  Anyway, this name came to mind when I was trying to name my business because “Sweet Butter” is the expression I use about something amazing, or wonderful, or exciting.  If one of my kids make a team they are trying out for, Sweet Butter!  If I were to win something in the Safeway/Albertson’s Monopoly game, Sweet Butter!  This, however, has never happened, other than being an Instant Winner of more Monopoly tickets that ultimately don’t win anything.  Anyway, “Sweet Butter” is a good thing.  I think my leather bags are a good thing, therefore Sweet Butter Goods.

Often when people see the name Sweet Butter Goods, they assume I am a baker of yummy, buttery baked goods.  I am not.  I like to eat yummy, buttery baked goods, but I prefer making things with leather.  I like the smell of baked goods, but honestly, I prefer the smell of leather.  While I wanted to explain how this name came to be, I was also trying to think of what today’s blog would be about and decided it would be about some of the sweet butter moments in my life so far.  At the time they happened, I didn’t know they were as meaningful as they turned out to be.

Moment #1:  A bad home perm and a denim suit

When I was a kid, I had several home perms. It was our way of trying to make me look like I had more hair than I actually did, trying to turn baby-fine hair into…I don’t know what.  Some perms turned out better than others, but this one particular perm was horrible. My hair was too short, the curlers were too small and I think the chemicals were left on a little too long and my hair was fried. This was right before my birthday.  That year for my birthday I got this denim jacket with matching pants and thought they were pretty cool until I got to school and a boy in my class had pretty much the same thing on.  The only difference was that he had amazing hair.  I hated that suit after that.  And I didn’t want any more perms. The sweet butter part was in realizing that I didn’t have to change my hair, mainly because I couldn’t.  But I could change my style to something that worked with my thin, lifeless hair.  I could choose something different.

Moment #2:  Hand-me-downs

As I have mentioned before, my family spent a lot of time skiing, which cost a lot of money.  So my oldest sister’s equipment would be passed down to my middle sister, and my middle sister’s stuff would come to me.  That seemed okay for a long time, but then I started to complain about not wanting hand-me-downs anymore.  I complained about the ski boots hurting my feet.  This went on for some time, until my mom and dad finally had my sister and I compare feet.  We sat facing each other and put our feet up against each other’s feet.  My foot was at least an inch longer than my sister’s.  My mom and dad felt bad that they hadn’t checked this when I first started complaining.  But after that, I was at the top of the hand-me-down line, at least for boots and shoes.  I’d love to have her hand-me-downs now.  She has great style and she buys quality things.  Sweet butter moment: there are times when you have to speak up and make people listen, but be clear about your reasons.

Moment #3:  The Green Bomber

When my friend Alysonn and I were moving into the apartment in Ballard, we needed to get her furniture and stuff from a house in Chelan.  We couldn’t fit it in her car, so we borrowed my sister’s old green pickup truck.  It was so cool.  It had a big bench seat and an engine that rumbled and growled.  And we loaded it up as high as we could, covered it with a tarp, threw a couple of ropes over it all and took off, headed for home.   We must have stopped at least a half-dozen times to re-do the tarp and ropes.  By the time we got near Everett, we had to cross the US 2 Trestle, which is like a really long bridge with no shoulders and lots of traffic.  One end of the tarp was undone and flapping like crazy in the wind.  Alysonn was holding onto the other end of the tarp through the window and I’m hysterically screaming at her as I drive, “DON’T YOU DARE LET GO OF THAT TARP!!!!”  And I can see that the tarp is slipping through her fingers.  There is nowhere for us to pull over.  Traffic is moving at about 60 mph and the wind is trying so hard to pull that tarp off.  Alysonn is crying.  I’m screaming.  And when we reach the end and could pull over, someone pulled over and helped us.  I think it was probably the car that was behind us, watching and waiting for that thing to fly.  Sweet butter moment:  sometimes you let go, but other times, you hang on for dear life and don’t give up.