Teen Makes $86,000 Giving Chinese Babies English Names

Publish Date
Friday, 9 September 2016, 7:57AM

More and more Chinese parents have taken to choosing English names for their babies in the hope of helping them gain a future in the West. 

Unfortunately this has led to mixed results, with some Chinese children now blessed with names such as Cinderella, Gandalf and even Rolex.

And that's where Beau Jessup knew she could help. She's just 16 and has earned more than £48,000 ($86,000) offering advice to Chinese families on how to choose rather more suitable English names.

She visited China with her family and was asked by friends during a meal out to suggest an English name for their newborn baby. 

She set up the website Specialname to suggest culturally appropriate English names for prospective parents by matching the meaning of the name to the family's ideals and aspirations for their child.

Now, six months on, she's named more than 232,000 Chinese babies, using names such as George, William, Catherine and Susan.

She said: "When I went to China I kept being asked to name babies for my parent's friends. They explained an English name is vital because you can't use a Chinese name on email or a university application to the UK. Your English name stays with you for life.

"But I also heard lots of examples where people had chosen culturally inappropriate English names they'd heard from films or read online and realised there was an opportunity to help Chinese people get it right from the start."

The confusion is partly the result of Chinese Government censorship of the internet restricting its citizens' understanding of western cultural references.

"There are quite a few examples where people have got the names wrong. Being exposed to luxury items and things like Harry Potter, Disney films and Lord of the Rings means they use those for reference. I once heard of someone called Gandalf and another called Cinderella," said Beau.

The website produces a shortlist of names for the baby with their original meaning and a famous person with that name. 

The A level student, from Edge, near Painswick, says she doesn't know which names are the most popular on her website, and she's "happy about that".

She said: "It is called 'special name' and it's based on individual preference and what they personally want their child to be. It's nice to be a part of such a happy experience and be a part of those young stages in a baby's life."

"I'm not really qualified or relevant enough in that baby's life to be the person to give it a name," she said. "I wanted to do it just to see if an idea could turn into more than just simply an idea. And I never expected it to become more than just a small project. It is obviously a nice surprise, but it is definitely a surprise."

Beau is using the income from the website to save for university and says setting it up and talking to her clients has already helped with her Mandarin.