I get asked often where the name Leroy Brown comes from.
Well, he was a cat.
But he was also my brother.
If you’re an animal lover (ummm who isn’t?) you know what I’m talking about when I say our animals are part of our family. Growing up we had a few different cats. The last one was Bad Bad Leroy Brown.
He was amazing. He was huge, my mom called him big boned. He was a lap cat. He didn’t mind when the other crazy cat Jake would hump him. Leroy was my moms cat. My moms baby. The only son my mom had in a family of all girls.
As I type this out I think about everyone rolling their eyes and saying, “it’s just a cat!” But it felt like he was in our lives forever. I grew up with Leroy. I told him secrets, I cried about boys to him, he was the perfect friend and brother.
I’ll admit that I am getting teary eyed while I write this. When he got sick it was really hard. I was working as a hairdresser at the time and had moved out of my parents house. My sister had called me and said they were going to say goodbye to him. I was already at work and was so sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye. (my eyes are starting to water...) I remember being so preoccupied that day. I just hid in the backroom in between clients, didn’t talk much, my heart was broken. After my shift, my manager asked to speak to me. I told her that it was stupid but my cat had died and that it was a really emotional event for my family. I just remember her looking at me, hugging me and she told me that it wasn’t stupid, that pets are family.
Leroy passed away on December 5th, 2012. Four years ago today. I can't believe it's been that long.
While thinking about starting a business many years ago, the name Leroy Brown was brought up by my sister Nicole. I didn't have a real business in mind that at point but the name always stuck with me. So in 2015 when I had the idea to start a furniture business it only made sense to name it Leroy Brown. I took a business course and was told by a teacher that the name Leroy Brown sucked. That was the moment I knew I needed thicker skin to be an entrepreneur. It was my first time sharing with strangers that my business was named after a cat and I was nervous! I cried in the bathroom after she told me it was a bad idea. She said I should name my business using a-play-on-words about furniture painting or pick something whimsy like "Jessica’s Vintage Home." But all those names didn’t feel like me, they felt like everyone else. I wanted a strong and chic kind of name, like Marc Jacobs. A great name that I could see being used for branding in the future. When I think about the big picture, I see a store front, white bright lights, a vintage teal buffet in the window and in big black letters, LEROY BROWN.
My grama always says “it’s so nice that Leroy will live on forever through your business.”
And she's right, because in 10 years when I have that store and someone asks where the name comes from, I’ll be sure to train all my staff to say “it’s about a cat named Leroy Brown.”
Love you & miss you my brother from another mother. xoxx