Everyone asks, “Where did the name Zen Rabbit come from?” The original company started in 2003, producing a product called The Gratitude Cookie. Zen Rabbit Baking Company shipped gift packages of Gratitude Cookies all over the world in an effort to help business people say thank you to their clients.
The Gratitude Cookies were a thin, crunchy cross between a butter and a sugar cookie. The original story about the name was that the Zen part came from the plainness of the cookies, and like Zen philosophy, the beauty was in the simplicity. And the Rabbit part came from folklore about rabbits bringing good fortune and prosperity to businesses. Those were true statements, but they weren’t the whole and authentic explanation behind the name.
I was reluctant to share the real story because I was afraid if I shared the real story, people would think it was silly. So I made up that reasonably plausible one.
The people closest to me knew where the name really came from. And they felt privileged and special for knowing while the rest of the world was in the dark. Then one day at a business retreat, having lunch with a small group, someone I admired asked about the name. For some reason, I decided to tell her the real story. She was captivated and persuaded me to share the real story with everyone.
So here goes. When I was an infant, my mom bought a pink stuffed rabbit for me at Bamberger’s (it’s now Macy’s). I had lots of stuffed animals, including Jake the orange snake, a nameless brown dog, a white lamb in a dress appropriately called Lambie Pie. This rabbit was presumably just another addition to the collection. However, not long after the rabbit joined the menagerie, my mom figured out that I wouldn’t sleep if this particular animal was not in the crib with me. As I got a little older, I would rub her soft ears as a comfort. Somewhere along the way, (no one quite recalls how) she acquired the name Mary.
Take a look at the picture here. I’m two years old, in my grandparents’ living room, with Mary in my clutches. You see that one hand is rubbing her ear and I’m in a bit of a meditative state. Mary was my original Zen Rabbit. In fact, I still have Mary, although I have to admit she does not even closely resemble her original state.
When I started that first company and was searching for a name, friends kept saying that the Gratitude Cookies gave them the feeling of getting a big hug from someone they cared about. I translated that to mean “taking them to a Zen place of calm.” Hey, that’s the same thing Mary did! Wouldn’t it be cool to call the company Zen Rabbit?!
I’m a marketing person and the purpose of marketing is to make an impression. The name is memorable! And even though Zen Rabbit Baking Company no longer exists, my name and Zen Rabbit are eternally linked, so Zen Rabbit continues on as my company name.