A British teenager has created a lucrative business selling Western names to Chinese families so their children can obtain email accounts. Beau Jessup, 19, has named more than 677,000 babies, and it's earned her enough money to pay for college and more, she said.
It began in 2016, when she established a website called "Special Name" that provides names in English.
“You can’t have an email address with Chinese characters. You need letters essentially,” said the social anthropology major.
Her first client was her father's colleague. They family needed a Western name, and the child's mother said she wanted her daughter "to surprise people with the things she could achieve," Jessup said. That got the teen to thinking of Eliza Doolittle, the fictional heroine of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" and the 1956 musical "My Fair Lady."
Hence, Eliza Wang.
Jessup said she realized the need for her service since the internet is censored in China and many users lack access to websites with English names. At first she offered her help for free, but as her client list grew, she recognized an untapped market.
She started charging about 79 cents per name, and has earned more than $400,000.
“I’ve realized that we’re actually quite similar, and mums everywhere have one thing in common and that’s that they want the best for their child," she said at a Ted Talk. "I thought that rather than make a mistake and pick a silly name, (people would) enjoy using a service where they could pick an appropriate name based on their own choice of characteristics.”