A NAME expert who helps parents pick monikers for their babies has predicted that 2023's biggest trends will include gender neutral names and using surnames for first names.
Colleen Slagen, 33, began offering parents consultations on names in January 2022 – following a lifelong "obsession" with baby names.
She now receives up to five requests a day for consultations costing between $175 to $250, resulting in around £1k.
Colleen goes through a lengthy process in order to create a list of either eight or 16 names for her clients.
Not only does she help parents name their tots, but Colleen also assists couples in choosing a new surname – if they don't wish to take each other's and also helps some clients change their name altogether.
Colleen suggests name trends for 2023 will include surnames such as Sutton, Miller and Brooke.
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Colleen, who also works as a nurse, from Boston, Massachusetts, US, said: "I have been obsessed with baby names my entire life.
"I spent my whole like preparing for this job – without knowing it existed as an option.
"I used to read yearbooks, phonebooks and baby name books and forced all my friends to talk about baby names with me.
"My sister and I used to have full lists of baby names and play games revolving around baby names.
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"I just thought of it as a quirky hobby, but then as my friends and I got to the age where we started having kids, I started unofficially advising them.
"I'd get feedback from friends and even their partners saying that it was very helpful.
"When I went on maternity leave with my daughter, who is now one, in January 2022, I bit the bullet and launched my website.
"It was a slow start, but then in January of this year I started making TikToks and all of a sudden it really took off."
Colleen now gets up to five enquiries a day for her services.
Her side hustle assists clients in choosing baby names, new names for themselves or even couples wanting to create a new last name when they wed.
I spent my whole like preparing for this job – without knowing it existed as an option
Her eight name package costs clients $175 or her 16 name package costs $250.
She carries out a thorough process to properly advise clients on the best names to suit their style.
She also takes into account any names parents can't use because they know someone else with it or because it doesn't "flow well" with their surname.
Colleen said: "The consultations are pretty in depth.
"When someone reaches out, I send them a questionnaire to gather information.
"Most people that come to me have already given names a ton of thought already.
"I get them to fill out what names they like but can't use for one reason or another – like if they know someone else with that name or it doesn't flow well with their last name.
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"I also ask if there's any family names they'd like to incorporate, what sounds are off limits or any other preferences.
"The more criteria people give to me the better – that's when I can really drill down.
"After the consultation, I send them the list of names I think would work.
"I also go into detail on the style of the name, it's meaning, popularity and why I think it's a good option for them.
"I also give them feedback on names they've already considered."
Most of Colleen's clients are yet to give birth, but she already knows of one baby named after one of her suggestions.
Whilst she works full time as a nurse, her clients need her help all around the clock.
She once even received a desperate request from a couple in the delivery room.
Whilst every client is approached individually by Colleen, she has some go-to tips and tricks for people searching for a perfect name – including looking at what retailers name their products, and using public records to see how common a name is.
She said: "I think names have become such a hot topic recently because of the rise of social media in particular.
The more criteria people give to me the better – that's when I can really drill down
"There are a few trends I really like right now – with girls we're seeing a lot of feminine, vintage names like Margot or Eloise.
"With boys, there's been a similar trend, but parents are also keener to have nick-namable names like August which can be shortened to Gus or Augie.
"There's also been a rise in gender neutral surnames being used for first names – which I love. Some of these popular names include Noah, Sutton, Miller, Ellis or Brooke.
"I think people like surnames because there's an endless amount of them to choose from.
"They're unique but they're familiar enough that they don't sound weird.
"It's fun to go through surnames from different origins and meanings to find one to fit the vibe the clients are going for."
She added: "I think one thing people are really interested in is how popular a name is.
"You can easily look up a name on a social security website and see how much it's been used.
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"Another way to find names is through social media or look at baby-focused companies that name products after kids.
"Discussion boards are also another great way to find a name."
Potential name trends
1. Vintage names such as Mallorie or Eloise for girls.
2. Surnames being used for first names such as Sutton, Miller or Brooke
3. Gender Neutral names
4. Names that can be shortened to nicknames like August to Gus or Augie
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