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What's in a name?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Three of the simple pieces made with Granny's pearls

“Why is your company called Lannair?”  A few people have recently asked me that so I thought I would share how the name Lannair came about. 

Lannair is a Scottish gaelic word and although I am not a gaelic speaker (other than the odd word) my mum is from Lewis and is. When we used to visit my granny in Lewis we were always welcomed by relatives and friends (particularly Peigi in Plasterfield shop) with a hug and the phrase, “Oh you’re home.”  As a child it confused me as we did not live on the island, and I didn’t think of it as home, however now I appreciate how it is part of who I am, an inherited home.

So why Lannair? 

I resigned from my role as Director of People and OD at the University of the West of Scotland in October 2017.  I’d gone there as an interim for a few weeks that turned into more than four years. The daily commute between Edinburgh and Paisley was exhausting. It was time for a change.

My intention was to find interim or consultancy work closer to home during my notice. However, two weeks into my notice period life threw a curve ball, and on 14 November 2017 I broke the top of my femur while dancing at my sister’s 50th birthday ceilidh (sober I hasten to add!). For weeks that turned into months I could not walk, far less work. 

Earlier that year, I had learned how to make jewellery. Mostly beaded pieces and the odd bit of silversmithing thanks to the patience and encouragement of my friend Michelle at Because this was something I could do sitting and very much at my own pace, I started making Christmas presents and gifts for all my fabulous friends who were helping and visiting me.

One day, when I was more than a bit fed up, my mum gave me part of a broken pearl necklace. She told me that the necklace had been given to her mum, my granny, for her 18th birthday in 1918 and that it had come from Japan. Mum got the 20 or so pearls when my granny died aged 102 and although the pearls could not be repaired as a necklace, they had huge sentimental value, and mum had treasured and kept them.

That Christmas I used a few of the pearls to make separate, and quite different pendants and earrings for my mum and my sister. They were simple, uncomplicated pieces, yet my mum and sister’s reaction when they opened their gifts was surprise, delight, and way more emotional than I ever expected. 

My sister phoned me a week or so later, still enthusing and said, “You should do this for other people.” In January and February, now on crutches/in a wheelchair, I made pieces of jewellery with the pearls for all my granny’s female descendants. My aunts, my cousins, their daughters, and my own daughter.

I love making things, and having something I could do sitting down, that required focus, imagination, and creativity, in all honesty kept me sane. And more than anything, I loved seeing the reactions I got when I gave my relatives their gifts and explained that these were our granny’s pearls. 

Work is a big chunk of my life. During my enforced break (sorry!!) I had lots of time to reflect. On where I worked, what I loved doing, what was important to me and the impact I have and want to have. I realised that what I love about my work is helping people and organisations discover and grow their brilliance - helping them shine. 

An NLP model developed by Gregory Bateson that I sometimes use when coaching, Neurological levels of Change, has Identity, our sense of self, as the second highest level. For me, names are important and form part of our identity. My husband and I took time and care choosing our daughter’s name – something that had meaning to us and what we wished for her. So, when it came to choosing my company name, I wanted a name that reflects me, has meaning for me and what I wish for the people and organisations I work with. 

Lannair is gaelic for glittering, shining or radiant. Lannair is the reflection from a polished surface or the phosphoric sparkle that you can see in the ocean in the dark. And it can mean splendour, or a great glowing flame. 

Lannair is a nod to my gaelic heritage, and a thank you to my Lewis mum and granny.

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