The name has been with me for such a long time I forget that others might not know what it means. There is an explanation on the About page of this site but I thought I’d share the information here as recently at a VA forum one of the VAs mentioned she’d often wondered what it meant.
It does not mean that I live in Clayton, or that my business was established in a place called Clayton as others have thought in the past.
For those who were in Australia in the mid 80s, they may well remember the Claytons adverts with Jack Thompson. It was the drink you had when you weren’t having a drink. In other words a substitute, or the thing you had when you couldn’t have the real thing. Unfortunately Wikipedia puts a bad slant on the name and the explanation they have isn’t accurate – at least not in my way of thinking. They claim it to mean a poor substitute – perhaps the explanation was written by someone who enjoys their alcohol and didn’t enjoy the Claytons drink. I’ve never tried it so can’t comment on that. I was hoping to find a copy of the ad on the Internet but searches provide references to it, and not the actual clip. A pity.
Anyway, when I decided upon the name it was to describe how I could be a secretary to someone or several someones without being their personal secretary. I worked from my own office as a home-based secretary, picked up their work, or took instruction via phone or fax (pre-internet) and then either sent the work off or back to the client. I did all their secretarial and admin support without working on their premises. I was the secretary they had when they didn’t have a secretary. Today you may have heard of many other businesses using the term for what they do too. I’ve seen a few around online. I know that there was a service in another state who was advertising their business with my business name. Thankfully I have it trademarked so was able to challenge their use of it successfully. However, it has become a common term in Australia describing the thing you had when you didn’t have the ‘real’ thing at that time. A replacement, a substitute, something that replaces what the ‘real’ thing would have been, a secretary, a bookkeeper, but it can be used to describe other things too – some good things, some perhaps not so. It’s a substitute.
So, “A Clayton’s Secretary” today is the business name I still operate under but very much as a Virtual Assistant. And the Internet Home Based Secretaries Network that fell under the banner of “A Clayton’s Secretary” is today a Virtual Assistant Network. How we do the work, what we do and the way it is delivered may have changed but the idea behind it hasn’t. We are still the support that other businesses need in place of engaging full time support staff.