Last week, we announced the opening of sign ups for our two new Halloween clubs, one of which was released under the name Werewolf Bar Mitzvah - a direct reference to a song from from an episode of 30 Rock.
As with all our color names that include references to pop culture, I did some cursory research to make sure that the song wasn't offensive - in this case, specifically to our Jewish friends. The searching that I did seemed to indicate that we were in the clear! The song was written mainly by a Jewish American, the episode it aired on produced by a Jewish Canadian. The song and music video were shared positively by several Jewish media outlets, and I read a fascinating article about werewolves in Jewish culture.
So, we went ahead with the name Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. One of the most frequent requests we get from customers is more colorways that celebrate Jewish culture and heritage, and as an enthusiastic celebrator of Halloween and the widespread appreciation for 30 Rock, I thought we had a great opportunity: to honor the requests I get from our Jewish customers while referencing pop culture that would be understood by our non-Jewish customers. Seemed like a win win!
A couple hours after our newsletter went out, one of our longstanding customers, who happens to be an Orthodox Jew, wrote in to ask us to change the name of the colorway. We had a great dialogue about how the search results I had found were more reflective of secular Judaism, and how sacred the Bar Mitzvah is as a religious rite of passage among Orthodox Jews. The Knitcircus Crew discussed as a group and unanimously agreed to change the name to We're Wolves - a nod to the upcoming Taika Waititi film of the same name that serves as a spinoff from the hilarious vampire-themed mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows.
Our unwavering gratitude goes to our customer who spoke up about how the name made her uncomfortable - even though I tried to the best of my ability to vet the name beforehand, I simply don't know what I don't know. She was gracious enough to share her time and wisdom with me, which she shouldn't have had to do. However, as a result of her kindness and commitment to her faith, I, and the rest of the Knitcircus Crew, have learned from this experience, for which I am grateful. To anyone else who may have been uncomfortable with our first name choice for this colorway, you have my sincerest apologies.
At the beginning of my tenure as Owner of Knitcircus, I made a commitment to better serve our marginalized customers. This time, I got it wrong. That doesn't mean that I won't try again.
If you wish to see your culture or heritage represented in our colorways, we'd love to collaborate with you on colorway inspiration. My policy is that we only make colorways that celebrate the heritages and cultures of the Knitcircus staff members - until we get a request from a customer to make something that represents them. If you have a request of us, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you come across a colorway name in our repertoire that makes you uncomfortable or is offensive, please do reach out to us so that we may rectify the situation. We welcome your feedback, and strive to do better each and every day.
Bug Richardson Seling
Owner, Knitcircus Yarns