The name Doug Levin chose for his new company, Fresh Samantha Inc. (#127), a bottler and marketer of fresh fruit juices, was crucial. Which isn't to say that inventing the name was hard for him. "It just came to me," he says, recalling the serendipitous moment in 1993. "It was gestalt."
Nor did he do it entirely alone.
He was at home one day with his wife, Abby, a children's book illustrator. She was desperately trying to work while their daughter, Samantha, then 2, tore around the living room. Levin remembers thinking, "That Samantha, she is fresh." Bingo. He had the name for his company, based in Saco, Maine.
Only later did it occur to him that Samantha might not like her name indelibly linked to the word fresh. After a schoolmate teased her about it, Samantha asked him, "Daddy, what does fresh mean? Is it a bad thing?" He recalls saying, "No, being fresh is good. It means being full of life and energy."
That connotation apparently has helped Levin market the company's drinks, whose sales climbed to almost $16 million last year. But now Levin says that he may have made a mistake: "I'm proud that it's named after her. But there will be issues to deal with when she gets older."