The Origin of Species: Three Businesses We Love with Animal Names

Wow! I can’t believe you met someone named Owl and someone name Fox and convinced them to start a business with you!
— Everyone, all the time

We often get questions about the origin of our name; Owl, Fox & Dean is definitely unique. We love being asked, though, it’s a wonderful way to start a conversation.

In the winter of 2013, Caleb Dean took a trip to the Oregon Coast to spend two days alone, brainstorming what could be. He recognized that there is an incredible amount of work to be done in the world and knew that he could not do it alone. In lieu of immediate [human] partners, Caleb crafted a name that spoke to the spirit of his company and the collective he wanted to build. The Owl is wise and the Fox is cunning, and we have grown Owl, Fox & Dean with these elements in mind.

Here’s more from Caleb:

Someone once told me that there are forest people and tree people, those with a high level view of things and those who are on the ground involved in the details. I believe that to be strategic, to design effectively, and to practice leadership we each must be able change our perspective and adapt quickly. The owl and the fox are resilient and live all over the world in many different climates, often going after the same prey but with different approach and perspective. This scrappy nature and ability to adapt and change perspective is core to our organizational philosophy at Owl, Fox & Dean and critical to the work we do with clients. Rather than being a forest or a tree person, we must be both and even sometimes wrestle around in the weeds until we get something right.

Along the way, we have discovered other businesses we love that also have animal inspired names. We reached out to learn more about how they crafted their unique brands. Welcome to the bestiary.

ELK Collective
"ELK in a literal format represents the founding partners' initials: Erin, Larissa, and Kelly.

We are a collective of Designers and Artists comprised of the disciplines of Interior Design + Architecture, Graphic Arts, Apparel Design and Craftsmanship.

To take it to the ethereal, the ELK as a totem means that we know how to pace ourselves. We might not be the first to arrive on this plane of multi-disciplinary design, but we’ll get there without burning out along the way.

Those that exist under the ELK totem, feel the need for companionship or group support. ELK totems tend to operate at a high energy level. ELK(s) do not have to do everything alone, help is out there waiting for you if you just ask for it."

- ELK Collective Founders Erin, Larissa and Kelly

ELK Collective is a multi-disciplinary shop working in Interior Design + Architecture, Graphic Arts, Apparel Design and Craftsmanship. They are located in Portland, OR.

Mr. Wolf
"We get asked the same question all the time. I suppose it started out with looking for a name that would stand out on the shelves, one that was memorable and in English that would appeal to the largest possible audience- that would attract our key market directly yet entice others in as well.

Wolf fit pretty well because of the association with the woods- of which there are a lot in Scandinavia! But the name evolved to encompass a much richer personality, giving the magazine a consistent voice and direction. I now see Wolf as personifying the Nordic character, elusive, a very dry sense of humour, self assured and well dressed."

- Laura Phillips, Editor of Mr. Wolf Magazine

Mr. Wolf Magazine is an independent journal profiling the leading personalities behind Nordic design, style, art and music. They are based in Stockholm with contributors from around the world.

One Thousand Birds

OTBirds was inspired by the poem "Out of the Mouths of a Thousand Birds" by Hafiz, a 14th-century Persian mystic and poet.

"We love the poem, and the conversation it inspires.  Last year in Silverlake, we were reading a book called 'The Gift' by Hafiz, a 14th century Persian mystic and poet who studied under Rumi.  Andrew and I would take turns reading the poems out loud, and kept coming back to this particular one, which is all about awareness. It begins with a call to 'listen to what is around you, right now.'  During this same time, we were mindstorming about the business, which would combine Andrew's talents as a sound designer/mixer and my years of artist representation and development.  We loved the idea that whatever direction we wanted to take the company, the name One Thousand Birds would always be a reminder as life continues to get busier, to stay wide awake, fully present.  Greater creativity will result, when you're not constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering what people are thinking of your work.  It brings freedom to do the best work you can."

- Laura Dopp, One Thousand Birds

OT Birds is a sound design studio located in Brooklyn. They also host cool events like  Bluegrass Sundays and OTB Live.