Why "Five Ducks" Design?

Why "Five Ducks" Design?

Names can hold a lot of weight. In sixth grade I had a naming project that required me to research for the origin and meaning of my name. The most meaningful thing I could find for my birth name "Madeline" was that it meant "tower". Which was rather disappointing until today, in the easy world of Google, where I found out that "Madeline" is a Hebrew name for girls meaning "Woman from Magdala, One Who is Elevated, A High Tower". I don't think of myself as elevated, but I mean, that's better than thinking of your name as meaning a cold tall skyscraper building.  

In any case, starting this new chapter of establishing my own business and naming it appropriately felt like a huge weight. It should be something meaningful, should maybe have my name in it, should maybe have the words "design" or "creative" in it as an indication for the business... should it even have an official name? Should I just use my own name? 

About eight months ago, at the end of a branding class I was taking through UCLA Extension, my peers and I were asked as our final project to come up with a personal brand name. Among other possibilities, the one that the class seemed to like the most was "Mad K Creative".  I pictured a more "mad scientist" kind of feel. At the time it was really just an idea though. I was still working in a full-time graphic design job in Santa Monica.

And then things changed. I felt like I needed a drastic adjustment in the way my life was going, and one night while getting ready to go to bed I was impressed with a rather simple, but at the time seemingly far-fetched idea of fulfilling two of my dreams: 1) going on a Route 66 road trip and 2) moving to Nashville.

I had dreamed of living in Nashville for about six years. I had visited Nashville before on a college trip with my dad, and with open country, pouring rain, music scene, and the new cowboy boots I loved, I was convinced I needed to come back and live here. After starting college at UCLA, I would sometimes listen to "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show on repeat (something I associated with Nashville) and start to cry feeling a desire to go to a home that was not yet mine.  

Route 66 was a fully planned trip I had already made but had to cancel a few years before. So the idea of these two things coming together was really exciting. I remember coming into work the next day and saying to my friend, "What if I went on a Route 66 trip and moved to Nashville?" It was as far-reaching as any seemingly impossible idea I've ever had.

And then I made it a reality. I planned it out completely, looked into various resources, and realized that financially I would be more than ok. 

I could really do this.

In the following couple of months, I quit my job (which I really did love, especially the amazing people there I still keep in touch with and visit when I'm in Los Angeles), had some last gatherings and good-byes, and tied up any loose ends, before packing up the car and leaving early on a September 2nd, a Wednesday morning.

You might be wondering...that's all well and good, but what about the ducks?? I'm almost there! 

One thing that I resolved to do — well, the only thing I had planned for sure once I got to Tennessee — was working at Sugar Camp Farm for three to six weeks in Bon Aqua, TN. Some more in-depth background about my farming experience and how I connected with Sugar Camp Farm can be found here

Upon arriving at the farm, with Lizzie showing me around the house and my room, the first sounds I heard were the ducks. For some reason, despite the uncertainty with this whole situation of moving, of being in a place where I didn't know anyone and was many miles from home, the sound of their quacking made me feel at peace. Maybe thinking of what they could possibly be quacking about and the rise and fall of their squabble distracted me from any uncertainties I had. This was the place I needed to be.

Out of all the animals, the ducks and I became close. Or rather, I became close with the ducks. Taking care of the ducks became my unspoken designated job my last week on the farm. I'd dump out their kiddie pool, get the hose and start putting fresh water in while getting their food. Then I'd stand and watch as the water filled up and they would one by one get into the pool. Whenever I'd move too close they'd immediately jump out and waddle a little farther away. Quacking of course.

We had moved their place of residence the last week I was there, which actually turned out to be not-so-good. Because it was closer to the forest area, and although the electric fence was on, an animal somehow got in. Lizzie informed me that there were only two survivors. I'm glad I got the pictures below of the five of them together when I was able to.

I actually recorded them quacking and played the sound back to them. They stopped quacking themselves and moved their heads curiously toward me. It made me wonder again what exactly they say to each other in all of their quackiness.  

I left the farm three weeks after moving in (since it was the end of the season, and I was presented with an opportunity to move to a house in Nashville). I drove back to the farm to visit in the coming months, and still do, but most of that time through December I spent learning about the Nashville community and ways to get involved.

As I started researching how exactly to even start a business, the name was not of the utmost concern since I technically had one. As I started working with "Mad K Creative" and attempted to put that brand together, something just didn't feel completely right. It felt sort of sterile. And although "Mad K" relates to my name, I realized I didn't really want the company to have my name in it. I wanted this little company to be able to fly under its own wings. But since I could think of nothing better, I went with it for a while. 

As I was putting my recent work together, I went to pick up pictures from my disposable film camera I had been using since I left Los Angeles. And there within the snapshots was a picture of those five ducks. 


And I had this vivid flashback of where I was back then, when I took that picture. How that moment felt like where it truly began for me here, and how much I enjoyed the simplicity of their entertainment. It was nostalgic and beautiful to me. 

A simple thought of "five ducks...five ducks design" came, when I wasn't even thinking about design. And I immediately envisioned the brand, the potential logo, and everything that it could be. 

And you know, just like my decision to move here, it had mixed reactions at first. Valid points like "five ducks" didn't seemingly have anything to do with my design experience, that the words didn't sound great together or could mistaken for something else... but at the end of the day, I still loved it. 

And thus my business was named "Five Ducks Design"... no deep Hebrew meaning here that I know of. Just a reminder of where I started here, and this very exciting step I've taken. I'm just trying to put my ducks in a row and all of that.

I'm excited to use this platform as a place to share the knowledge I'm gaining in starting a small business, ways to get involved in the community, and also help and support other small businesses. 

You can hear my recording of the ducks and see more pictures of them below!  

Continual Learning Resources

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