Who came up with ‘Swallowed a Fly’?
I often get asked why we’re called Swallowed a Fly and I rarely have the chance, or more accurately, no one has the time quite frankly, to let me prattle on and give the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to how this curious name came to pass. And yet here I am, and here you are, so grab a cuppa and I’ll try to give you all the gory details.
Before I can tell you how we chose our name, I need to let you know that we were not always called Swallowed a Fly and so this rather long tale is about how we became Swallowed a Fly, and why we had to change our original name. But before I do, I need to take you back to 2011. I had just come off maternity leave and returned to my then day job as Account Manager for a Renewable Energy Company. As every parent does when they first go back to work, I was going through the mental anguish of leaving my precious first born (in the very capable hands), of random strangers at my local nursery*
I say this in semi-jest now, but at the time I was struggling. I knew that my daughter was fine (thriving!) at nursery, it was me that was grappling with separation anxiety. Going from 24/7 to zero hours was too much for me to bare, I desperately missed my daughter and couldn’t fathom why I was doing this to myself. I needed to find a sustainable work life balance and fast!
I wanted to create a life for my family where we could still spend quality time, whilst not stifling my daughter’s development at nursery. But where to start in my new career choice?
I knew completely that I wanted to turn a passion of mine into a business idea. I’d had a background in retail, and I knew that my next pay check would need to come from online sales as I intended to work from home. Couple that with my love of reading, words, and book covers, and finally I felt I had a nebulous of an idea at least. So, in September of 2011, I worked with a very talented Graphic Designer called Tom Cronin and together he reached in and grasped the creative concept inside my head and managed to realise it on paper. The very first range** was ready to sell and all we needed to do now was come up with a name for the website, oh yes and build the website too – and then launch it, all in time for Christmas!
The website build turned out to be the easy part, my best friend set up the web shop and we’d even come up with a name for it! Yes, we came up with the name BoundToLoveIt.co.uk! And we did, love it I mean. Our new name encapsulated everything we did and everything we wanted to do. We wanted to find and create Book related gifts for book lovers. It was the perfect name, we bought the domain, launched the shop and everything was going better than expected with some great sales online, lovely reviews and even a few local shops and indeed Blackwell’s bookshops requested to stock our range of prints. Happy days… ish.
Around the same sort of time, unbeknownst to me and my little start up, a very popular book called 50 Shades of Grey had been released and was starting to grow in popularity. In fact, I believe at one point in 2012, if you were a woman, and went within 100metres of another woman, it was now mandatory to discuss this book. It’s hard to remember just how big a deal this book was at the time – “have you read 50 shades?” superseded other such insightful questions as, “did you have a good weekend?”, “going anywhere nice on your holidays?” and “Alright?”, as most asked questions of 2012!
And so why am I talking about this now? Well, whether you’ve read 50 Shades or not, you would have had to have been under a rock (or wearing a blindfold ba dum tss), to not know that there is a BDSM element to the story. The upshot of all of this was there was also a sudden surge of bondage equipment sales the world over. Anyway, to cut a long story just a tiny bit shorter, it became painfully (pun intended) clear that as our traffic levels started to spike (pun intended), and took an upward swing, (pun intended) our sales sadly didn’t and in fact disappointedly they shrunk (pun intended). It turned out that ironically our new visitors who loved being bound, were apparently NOT boundtoloveit.co.uk after all.
It is quite funny looking back now but at the time I felt like my little business had been tainted. They’d made it feel a bit grubby. Although I like to think that at least one or two of our BDSM visitors got suitably distracted by our lovely range of literary gifts and bought something from us – after all, they were book lovers too, right?
So anyway, you could argue that we didn’t NEED to change names – but sadly we did as the .com version of our domain that we didn’t own, was now very much supplying what our newfound visitors were craving! So yes, we felt that a change was the best option and as we were still very much in our infancy, we’d take this chance to regroup, rebrand and relaunch.
Up until that point we had only been selling art prints and I had always had a plan to expand our offering as we grew. I had always loved the idea of producing our own book related mugs, magnets, coasters, tea towels and matching gifts to go with our art prints. Back then we were also quite uptight about our ‘book theme’ in that we wouldn’t stock an item if it wasn’t firmly “Book based”. But why we thought? We were film fans as well. And we loved TV shows and not all of them start off in book form, but sooner or later they get turned into books, so why not we thought. You could say we loosened up ;-)
With our shackles removed (pun unavoidable) we were free to expand our offering and with our new start, we needed a new name. Now, here comes the anti-climax… (yep I said it!) when I was in the garden trying to think of a new name, an actual fly flew into my mouth and yes, I swallowed it! (look I’m sorry, Ok, everything sounds seedy now, not my fault, blame E.L. James. Just be thankful I haven’t once mentioned ‘wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her’).
And so there you have it. That was the story of ‘the woman in her forties who swallowed a fly’ and the answer to the question I am asked most often.
Thanks for listening x
Founder and COO (“Chief of Other” Stuff No One Wants to Take Care Of)
*It never got any easier for me but I’m delighted to say that Chuckles Nursery in Needham Market survived all three of my children attending their fantastic day care centre.
**Interesting fact, we still sell that very first range and I’m proud to say it continues to be a bestseller in our Art Prints section Book Art