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:wave: Hey hey, I'm Michael Lee and this is my site about being a developer, being a dad and making side projects.

Native Haus

Written on May 3, 2014

Last Friday, my wife and I officially launched our online paper goods business – Native Haus.

The idea behind Native Haus came about during Valentine’s Day, when my mother-in-law was staying with us. In the tradition of all our American holidays, I wanted to get my mother-in-law a Valentine’s Day card but there was a problem; she doesn’t speak or read English.

I searched local shops around where I work, in hope of finding something in at least German – one of the two languages that she knows – my efforts came up empty.

I then did a search online to find that there were cards in the languages that my mother-in-law spoke; but they looked like they were made in the 90s. Too tacky for my taste. What I was looking for was something clean and simple. That spoke a simple message that would resonate with the person who was receiving it.

I ended up giving my mother-in-law a bouquet of roses, which thankfully is universal and transcends language barriers.

Scratching Our Own Itch

My wife and I are both Korean but were raised in two different countries. My wife was born and raised in Germany, so the languages she spoke growing up are Korean and German. While I was born and raised in the US and grew up speaking Korean and English.

As our family grows, our children will speak a combination of all the languages we speak.

Even looking to our friends, we realized there are more and more families like ours. Where the cultural and lingual make-up of families aren’t so homogeneous.

For this reason, Native Haus was born.

We hope Native Haus will give opportunities for grandchildren to give a card to their grandparents in the language of their heart. Spouses to give their significant others a card in the language of their heart. Children to give their parents a card in the language of their heart. And yes, even son-in-laws to be able to give their mother-in-laws a card in the language of their heart.

I use cards in the example because that’s where our initial focus is but we hope to expand our offerings soon.

Defining a Brand

When I first came up with the idea, I wanted to call it Natively because a person speaks a language natively. I shared the name with my wife and she said the name was fine as long as the dot com was available.

Thankfully natively.com wasn’t available. Although I really liked the name, I believe Native Haus is better.

We kept the native portion and chose to combine it with the word haus. Haus is the German spelling for house. Haus works well for us because it is true to what we experience on a daily basis in our house.

Although we live in the US and speak English with all our friends, inside our house – our home – we speak a combination of German, English and Korean. Even the type of English that we speak, outside of our house it’s proper to the context that we are in, but in our home we speak English in the way that’s most comfortable.

These languages that we speak at home. Are the languages that are close to our hearts. We may not be the most fluent in them but they are what we grew up with.

The home/language imagery is what inspired our logo. The logo is based off of an old German cottage house. The heart in the middle is to signify that inside our home is a safe place where we can speak freely in the languages of our heart.

Work in Progress

Native Haus is just getting started. We’re learning a lot and solving things as we go. We’re so thankful for all the great feedback and encouragement we’ve received so far and really excited for our adventure ahead.

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