‘Name expert’ helps parents pick names for their babies and predicts 2023 trends
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A “name expert” is helping parents pick names for their newborns, and is predicting 2023 trends will include surnames for first names and gender neutral names. Colleen Slagen began offering parents-to-be names consultations in January last year, after being “obsessed” with baby names her whole life.
The 33-year-old now received up to five consultation requests a day charging between $175 (£140) and $250 (£201). The consultations see her and her clients go through a lengthy process in order to create a list of either eight or 16 baby names.
As well as helping parents name their babies, she also helps couples choose a new surname in cases where her clients don’t wish to take each other’s names. She also helps people choose new names altogether.
Colleen, who is from Boston, Massachusetts, suggests name trends in 2023 will include surnames such as Sutton, Miller and Brooke. She said: "I have been obsessed with baby names my entire life.
"I spent my whole life preparing for this job - without knowing it existed as an option. I used to read yearbooks, phone books and baby name books and forced all my friends to talk about baby names with me.
"My sister and I used to have full lists of baby names and play games revolving around baby names. I just thought of it as a quirky hobby, but then as my friends and I got to the age where we started having kids, I started unofficially advising them.
"I’d get feedback from friends and even their partners saying that it was very helpful. When I went on maternity leave with my daughter, who is now one, in January 2022, I bit the bullet and launched my website.
"It was a slow start, but then in January of this year I started making TikToks and all of a sudden it really took off."
Colleen, who also works as a nurse, now gets up to five enquiries a day for her services. Her eight name package costs $175, and for $250 she will give you 16 names.
To choose the names, she carries out a thorough process to properly advise her clients on the names that best suit their style. She also takes into account names that can’t be used because they don’t “flow well” with their surnames, or that other people the parents know have.
She added: "The consultations are pretty in depth. When someone reaches out, I send them a questionnaire to gather information.
"Most people that come to me have already given names a ton of thought already. I get them to fill out what names they like but can’t use for one reason or another - like if they know someone else with that name or it doesn’t flow well with their last name.
"I also ask if there’s any family names they’d like to incorporate, what sounds are off limits or any other preferences. The more criteria people give to me the better - that’s when I can really drill down.
"After the consultation, I send them the list of names I think would work. I also go into detail on the style of the name, its meaning, popularity and why I think it’s a good option for them.
"I also give them feedback on names they’ve already considered."
While most of Colleen’s clients are yet to give birth, she already knows of one baby named after her suggestions. Combining her services with her job as a full time nurse, her clients need her help any time of the day - one time she even got a desperate request from a couple in the delivery room.
Whilst every client is approached individually by Colleen, she has some go-to tips and tricks for people searching for their perfect baby name - including looking at what retailers name their products, and using public records to see how common a certain name is.
She said: "I think names have become such a hot topic recently because of the rise of social media in particular. There are a few trends I really like right now - with girls we’re seeing a lot of feminine, vintage names like Margot or Eloise.
"With boys, there’s been a similar trend, but parents are also keener to have nick-namable names like August which can be shortened to Gus or Augie. There’s also been a rise in gender neutral surnames being used for first names - which I love. Some of these popular names include Noah, Sutton, Miller, Ellis or Brooke.
"I think people like surnames because there’s an endless amount of them to choose from. They’re unique but they’re familiar enough that they don’t sound weird.
"It’s fun to go through surnames from different origins and meanings to find one to fit the vibe the clients are going for.”
She added: "I think one thing people are really interested in is how popular a name is. You can easily look up a name on a social security website and see how much it’s been used.
"Another way to find names is through social media or look at baby-focused companies that name products after kids. Discussion boards are also another great way to find a name."
Colleen’s list of potential name trends 2023 include:
1. Vintage names such as Mallorie or Eloise for girls.
2. Surnames being used for first names such as Sutton, Miller or Brooke
3. Gender Neutral names
4. Names that can be shortened to nicknames like August to Gus or Augie