Apr. 25, 2009

And your company name is what?

A common question that I get when I meet customers, or meet new people at events, is "Why name your company Penny People?" The story behind the name actually has a lot of significance, and so I thought I would tell the story about how "Penny People" came to be. The reason why I'm telling the story, is that I feel that sometimes people think my name is Penny. Nope. It's not. And, I've debated changing our name from Penny People to something else as time passes, to something that would symbolize the company better, but in my heart, Penny People just fits.

The story begins at the Age of 5, when my Dad gave me a graphic tablet. I started drawing on the computer in the early 1980's. But the significant event started happened in 1990, when I was 11 years old at John Fisher Public School here in Toronto. I oddly remember the day quite vividly, perhaps with details being blurred over time, but for instance, I remember where I was sitting in the room, on this particular day. While the teacher was talking (umm, teaching) I took a penny from my pocket and circled it with a pencil, on my desk. I then put two eyes, and a mouth in the circle. So simple really, however from that one doodle I fell in love with the little character that I had just created. And, I named that character, a Penny Person. Give me credit. I was 11 years old.

(Awww, how cute. I'm top left - this is around the time I started drawing Penny People)

Over the years, I continued to draw Penny People privately in my sketch books, developing new techniques by teaching myself art. They were a constant subject in my Illustration classes in High School, and even made their way into doodles when I couldn't focus in OAC Figure Drawing classes. Sketch book, after sketch books are filled documenting the ever changing characters, once only a round head, to what they are today, having ears, some facial structure and more. However, they have always only had 4 fingers. This, has never changed, and I don't exactly know why I never added a 5th.

Skip ahead MANY years, skipping my University Years, and my 2 years being a designer for a Toy Retailer, and now, at the stage where I was going to start up my own company. Since the characters at the time were the primary focus of my company (and still an intergal part of it), being able to change skin tones, hair colours etc...I decided to simply name my company "Penny People". In 2004 I started the application to Trademark the term "Penny People" and in 2008 my application was complete thanks to my team of Lawyers. And Penny People is now, officially trademarked. :)

As the company has grown, the products have diversified, so it's a consideration that the name of the company change. However, nothing seems to have as much significance as the name of the simple characters that kept me company as a youth.

And there you have it. The story behind our name. :)

Unfortunately no pictures of the early Penny People are available, having been packed away prior to our move (and not having been unpacked) so for now, you get to see what I looked like, at the time I started to draw them! :)


  1. I just love that story! I'm sure the company is a huge part of your life every day, why not name it after something that has such a sweet meaning to you? Congrats on the trademarking!

  2. First...I was thinking you are really young...then realized we are the same age. That makes me feel younger. Cool.

    Second...I love the story of the name...do you still have the original drawing?? :)

  3. Thanks for the congrats! Who knew it would take approximately 4 years for the trademaring to be complete. And that, I may add, is withOUT any issues during the process!

    Ah yes, my 30th birthday is coming up this June. :) I'm still feeling pretty young - surrounding things by all things cute seems to be the key to youth. :)

    I don't have the original drawing because I did it actually ON the desk (no kidding) but I have all of the sketch books from the past 19 years, but they are all still packed from our move into our house, and since we're still renovating, 90% of the boxes, have shamefully, not been opened. I was hoping to scan in a picture to put it with the post. So I'm going to go dig around to see if I can find one of the originals from way back when. :)


  4. What a sweet picture!! I love that they only have 4 fingers. What a wonderful story, it is so neat when a company has a story behind the name, and this story, I must add, is heartwarming.

  5. Cute story! I remember reading an article about Penny People (which is how I found out about the company)...funny how the little things you do when you're young somehow stick with you the rest of your life :)


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