By Samantha Critchell Associated Press
As the thousands of Sophias and Isabellas and Jacobs and Masons born this past year will learn when they go to pick up their backpacks off the soccer field or sort their duffels in college dorms, their names aren’t as unique as they are.
But their Twitter handles will be one of a kind, and some companies that specialize in customized products already are seeing social media names replace initials or birth names as IDs.
Or you might find something decorated with a wink-wink emoticon or social-media acronym that not all parents can decipher, or the hashtag that is an of-the-moment, pop-culture rallying point.
“Teenagers love having something in their hands that no one else has, or that only the right people have.” said Marc Cowlin, director of marketing at CafePress, an online retailer that lets consumers put their own stamp on apparel, accessories and more, such as pajamas or flashlights with LOL, TTYL or BRB.
“By personalizing your water bottle with your Twitter handle, it’s less likely to get lost. There might be 50 white water bottles on the field, but only one will have your social media name,” Cowlin said.
Daniella Yacobovsky, who co-founded an online jewelry business, BaubleBar, 18 months ago, sees the same success in her company’s Twitter handle necklace.
Think of it as the next-generation Carrie Bradshaw nameplate for girls whose moms will know what the Carrie Bradshaw nameplate is. (For those who don’t, it’s one of the first fashion trends that Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Sex and the City” character started. A necklace with a girlie script spelling your name was all the rage for 20-somethings a decade ago.)
Social media references are “a very 2012 way of expressing yourself,” Yacobovsky says.
For BaubleBar, the Twitter handle necklace has been popular for gifts, hitting the “$80 to $100 sweet spot” that works for teenage birthday or graduation gifts, Yacobovsky said. Other people are buying it for themselves.
“Something like this necklace lends itself to viral sharing. You order it, personalize it, take an Instagram picture of it when you get it and then put it on Twitter, and then your followers want it with their name on it,” she said.
Teenagers also understand and feel comfortable using the technology to make the products, said Cowlin of CafePress.
“They grew up with it, they know how to do it. They’ll jump in front of a computer screen and play with design tools until they get it all just the way they want it,” he said.
“There’s a big difference watching my 14 year-old-daughter customize something versus myself or my wife.”