“The name Zhkis, is that Greek or something?”
We have been asked this more than we can count! The name Zhki (zee-kee) has a fun and unique history to it. It originated purely by accident in the mid 1990’s. I was an avid online gamer at the Microsoft Gaming Zone, a free service from Microsoft. I was a fan of Lucus Arts “Out Laws”, an old western style first person shooter. Not a too over the top violent game but a good multi-player game. As I tried to sign onto the Microsoft Gaming Zone for the first time, I was required to choose a user name and password. Being a little naive, I attempted my real name, of course that was taken. I started to get creative, or so I thought, and tried television and cartoon characters. They all came back taken. Out of frustration, I hit four random keys and hit enter and it was accepted by the system. I wasn’t even sure which keys I hit until I entered the game room, where I saw this name “Zhki” staring back at me. As I looked at other player’s names, they had neat names like Wild Bill, Josey Wales, or something reflecting the era of the game “Out Laws”, so the name Zhki was odd to say the least.
I went into game rooms and played games and hooked up with a group of gamers that played together on a regular basis. Eventually they got around to asking me about my name. Everyone got a laugh when they found out that Zhki was four random letters that had no meaning. I had thought about changing my online name, but decided to keep it since I had gotten to know other gamers, and they all knew me by that name. A year or so later, I needed to change ISPs, which meant I had to change my email. I couldn’t get any version of my real name so I fell back upon that oddball Zhki name. So it seemed I was stuck with the name Zhki!
When my wife and I decided to open an art gallery, we found that thinking of a name was very challenging. We went to our attorney to start a corporation and we mentioned the Zhki name. He thought it was a great idea, as it is hard to get a corporate name now without some sort of naming conflict. So Zhki Inc. was born. We then took the name and personified it making it Zhki’s Gallery. It had a good sound to it and was memorable. When we decided on a retail space to lease, our landlord said “You will be glad your business name is short!” Our lease agreement required lighted channel letters in the signage, which were not cheap! A short time later, we started our website and again the unique name of Zhki’s was available as a dot com. Still today I get the “Who is Zhki?” question and even have some people call me Zhki. It has been a long time since I have done any online gaming though, my time is occupied with running zhkis.com and with my wife and four kids.