Since I went out on my own in 2009, people have often asked me about the name of my company, Long Jacket Communications. Given it’s the first blog post on my new website it seems like a good place to start.
It used to be businesses were named after the group of old white guys who started the company – Mattel, Johnson & Johnson, Stirling Cooper Draper Price. But with no old white guys involved in my business and wanting something a little more interesting than my last name, I kept searching. I also didn’t want to subject myself to complicated rounds of focus groups, psychological analysis, and sausage grinders where a few words are jammed together to produce new names like Aliant, Google, and ShamWow. I didn’t want girly, I didn’t want serious, I didn’t want to seem like I was too big for my britches. Since I knew that for the most part I would be selling myself as me, Jennifer Faulkner, rather than my company name I felt like I had the freedom to call it something that had personal meaning to me and me alone. And that’s when it hit me.
More than 10 years ago I worked for a not-to-be-named organization with my friend, Amy. We felt undervalued, overworked, misunderstood, and that the leadership was not doing enough to represent and respect the people the organization was mandated to serve. But Amy and I had a “we’re in this together” attitude and we believed in what we were doing so we used humour and each other for support. One way that we would get ourselves in the right headspace for the brick wall of the office was to sing along to music at the top of our lungs every morning as we drove to work in my scrappy KIA Rio. One of the top songs on our hit list was “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” by Cake. If you’ve never heard this song, it’s all about a guy meeting a girl who means business. We loved the images in the song of this strong, put-together woman who was making things happen. Lines like:
I want a girl with the right allocations, who’s fast and thorough and sharp as a tack
She’s using a machete to cut through red tape
I want a girl with a mind like a diamond, I want a girl who knows what’s best
With finger nails that shine like justice…
“Short Skirt, Long Jacket” became our rallying cry, our protest song, and our inspiration. We used to naively fantasize about busting into meetings dressed in cool white business suits with our hair blowing, our heels towering, and a briefcase jammed with money and bright ideas for a hostile takeover. We were going to kick the deadweights to the curb, make the organization thrive, make everyone happy, and make us heroes.
That corporate coup never happened but the spirit of the “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” woman lived on as we both moved into other career paths. I don’t remember the day “Long Jacket Communications” came to me but I do remember Amy was the first person I tried it out on. Judging by the look on her face I knew she was all the focus group I needed.
If you want to check out the song they did a video of people’s reaction while listening to it. I love the man who says dismissively, “Sounds like some super girl that feminists would approve of.”