The word 'native' is problematic, and it's time to evolve.Today is Indigenous Peoples’ day and I want to celebrate it by openly acknowledging the problematic nature of our name: Native Bear.
While I wasn't going to start alluding to the change until closer to the new year, I felt that today was not only an appropriate day to send out a massive newsletter, but also completely necessary. Starting in early January we will be relaunching with a brand new name and a more focused direction.
When I started this brand 8 years ago it was a fledgling Etsy shop, and even before that, I was screen printing t-shirts in my apartment under the name Runaway Bear. Having gone by the name Runaway Bear for sometime I decided to switch to Native Bear when I opened my Etsy shop. I wanted to evoke a sense of home or belonging, and I interpreted the word 'native' as "being from a region", or belonging to an area of land. My 25 year old self was going through some personal healing, and I felt that the word ‘native’ was more descriptive of what I was going for rather than ‘runaway’. I was tired of running away, and I wanted to feel that I belonged on this earth. Thus, the new name went into effect.
While on Etsy I designed and block printed designs with a southwestern motif and classic western imagery (quite a trendy design theme at the time. Some of you might recall!) and I started down a path of what I feel was the beginning of an artistic awakening for myself. The shop went through many phases and looks, and I have dabbled with all sorts of imagery and aesthetics. It's taken a long time to get to the Native Bear vibe of today, but many of you have supported this hobby turned business since day one! Even the real bad designs...
Now, I’m not sure where you all were 8 years ago, but I certainly wasn’t as aware as I am now. Looking back I can honestly say that my privilege allowed me to overlook the complicated and problematic nature of using the word ‘native’ in any other context besides that which describes indigenous peoples or culture. As a white person using it in my business name, it is especially problematic. While I know my intention for using the word was well meaning, I neglected to look into the darker origins of the word and the implications of using this word as a nonnative person. I can't continue to use the word in our business name in this day and age when we all need to be held accountable for the messages we are putting out into the world, and for the unconscious ways in which we might be disempowering any group of marginalized people.
I am ready to let the name go at the end of the year and make room for the next phase of our brand. I am looking forward to announcing a name that is more aligned with our mission to create beautiful products and tools for the creative spirit, and that will uplift and inspire others rather than unintentionally hold people back. It is the right thing to do, and it is beyond time.
We will continue to offer the majority of our current products, and we'll be expanding our line to include more tools for creatives to plan and execute their projects. I’m so excited for the fresh start, the fresh look, and to finally have a name that feels more in sync with who we are and our overall mission.
Thank you all for the support over the years, and your continued support during this transition! Stay tuned for the official announcement in the next couple of months, and check in on instagram for sneak peeks into the process.
If you have comments, questions or feedback please reach out by responding to this email.