How I Named My Baby: Townes Sterling

How I Named My Baby: Townes Sterling

Stevi, who owns her own natural living business, and Matt Savage, a wedding and lifestyle photographer, live in Tulum, Mexico with their three children: Rhodes Matthew, Paloma Josephine, and Townes Sterling.

Townes was born on September 30, 2022. Below, our conversation with Stevi and Matt about how they named their son.

Tell me how you named Townes!

Stevi: We didn’t know what we were having, but I wanted the name to match Rhodes if it was a boy, or Paloma if it was a girl. Rhodes has a strong but also soft feeling to it. The O makes it sound very round.

I really liked that Rhodes and Paloma match with the number of letters. So I was hoping we’d come across a name that felt right and had six letters. It wasn’t a top priority, but it was a hope.

One day in July, we started to feel like we were down to the wire. We had two to three months to figure it out, but both Rhodes and Paloma were born early so wanted to have a name picked out by 30 weeks.

Matt was on his computer, and I walked in — he had iTunes open and the highlight image that iTunes was featuring was Townes Van Zandt, a country singer/songwriter from the 1960s.

I was like, “Townes! I love that name!” Matt looked at me and said, “That’s a cool name”, and I felt it. I wrote it down in our name list and stayed open. I thought Townes might be it, but didn’t want to pin it down yet.

My heart kept coming back to Townes, over and over. It has that strong feel but round softness to it. It’s one syllable, like Rhodes. Then I started making the connection — Rhodes and Townes, roads and towns — they’re a pair!

Matt: I was hesitant about the roads and towns thing.

Stevi: We hinted at the name to some family members and they were like, “Oh that’s funny, roads and towns.” But the more I thought about it, it felt legend.

What about his middle name, Sterling?

Matt: Sterling is one of Stevi’s younger brothers’ names. All the kids have family names in the middle that are more traditional. Rhodes’ middle name is Matthew after me, and Paloma’s is Josephine, which is Stevi’s grandmother’s name.

Stevi: We were considering mostly parent and grandparent names. But then I was like, “What about brothers?” My brothers are Levi and Sterling, which are cool names. Townes Levi was nice, but Townes Sterling has the right ring to it.

I was like, “How do I pick which brother to name my child after!” But we had to put that outside of the decision and really just focus on what sounds and feels right.

What other names were on your list?

Matt: Monroe, Malone, and Townes were our front runners. We considered names like Sorrel and Soren, too.

Stevi: I was really stuck on the name Malone. If we ever had another one, it really fits — it has six letters, an O. But Malone ended up being our girl name.

How do you feel about your own names and how did that influence your choice?

Matt: I’m the black sheep of the family with my traditional first name so I feel a bit left out with the cool names. But I did bring Savage!

Stevi: Stevi is more popular now for sure, but growing up it was a conversation starter, and I liked that.

There was one time in third grade when someone at school said “Stevi’s a boy name!” and I went home and asked my mom if that was true. For the second half of that day at school I was really worried about my name. But my mom is a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and told me about Stevie Nicks. From that day on, I’ve always loved my name.

Matt: My mom always reminded me that Matthew meant “gift of God”. I always thought I had a good name for that reason.

Stevi: My middle name is Tané, and I’ve always been a little bit disconnected from it. I like the way it sounds, but I always wished that I had a family name to connect me to older generations.

My brother is Levi Ellis, and Ellis is my dad's name. I liked that my brother had that as his middle, which influenced us to use Matthew for Rhodes’ middle name.

Tell me about Paloma's name change.

Stevi: Paloma came early and they wanted us to fill out the paperwork at the hospital — we were stressing. Matt was just okay with Paloma, so we put it in the middle and named her Josephine. I was honestly a bit sick over it — Josephine Paloma was not my child!

The birth was really hard on me so I couldn’t put much energy toward thinking about the name, but I knew in the future I wasn’t going to be happy with Josephine Paloma. We never called her Josephine or Josie — just Baby Girl.

Matt: We were celebrating her coming home from the hospital, finally, and I was making palomas to drink. I said "I really like the name Paloma. Could we call her Paloma but keep Josephine as her first name?" But we hadn’t gotten the birth certificate yet, so we decided to change it.

Does Rhodes have a cool name story too?

Matt: Rhodes was born so early, he had no name for a couple of days. Rhodes wasn’t initially on the list.

Stevi: I was in love with Delta Spirit at the time and wanted the name Delta!

Matt: He could sign his name with a triangle — very cool, but I didn’t want to use the name. I found Rhodes while we were in the hospital, searching through name lists. We drew straws and the name was Rhodes.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting the baby name process?

Matt: There’s a lot of pressure from family, friends, or even trends with names. But it’s most important to think about how a name makes you feel and think about how your child might feel with that name.

How do you describe your personal style?

Stevi: Natural, minimal, and earthy. Townes does not have his own space in our home, he has just integrated into where he fits!

Matt: None of our kids have ever really had their own space. We’re not big on baby gear — we keep things simple.

Stevi: We slide things over in our drawers to make room for the baby clothes. Townes just has his own basket with his toys and books that sits in our living room.

Matt: Paloma and I have made some toys for Townes instead of buying them. It’s been a fun project for us. As he grows, we’ll make new ones!

Did Townes receive any special gifts?

Stevi: My mom bought all of the kids their own amber necklace. Rhodes and Paloma wore theirs for years, and we just put Townes’ on him this week.

It was really fun to have a baby this time. We were disconnected from the States, so we weren’t getting tons of gifts, which is nice in a way! We’re a bit older and know what we need for a newborn. We told our family not to get gifts, just to visit Mexico!

What are the cool things to do in Tulum with kids?

Stevi: Hang out at the beach!

Matt: Surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. The kids love to jump off cool rocks and cliffs.

Stevi and Matt's (and Townes') Favorite Things

Artipoppe Carrier

It's a splurge, but Artipoppe is the best carrier!

Baby Bjorn Bouncer

We've used this for all of our kids.

Neutral onesies

Townes has a whole basket of onesies in different earth tones — it's his uniform.

Muslin blankets

These are a must-have. Anytime Townes is fussy, we wrap him in a blanket and he passes out.


We put this on the floor for Townes.

Click here to see the entire Baby Shopping Guide or our Pregnancy Shopping List. And check out the Nameberry Amazon Store to see all products recommended in How I Named My Baby.

Thank you so much, Stevi and Matt!

Photos via Stevi and Matt Savage

See the entire How I Named My Baby Collection here, and for the chance to participate yourself, fill out our interest form.

About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top 2020s names, Gen Z names, and cottagecore baby names. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest.

Sophie Kihm's articles on names have run on People, Today, The Huffington Post, and more. She has been quoted as a name expert by The Washington Post, People, The Huffington Post, and more. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at Sophie lives in Chicago.