The Ash Glaze is Gaining Mainstream Traction… and We Should Have Seen This Coming.
Just before the holidays, Justin Crowe, Founder of Chronicle Cremation Designs, stopped by Connecting Directors headquarters and we had a chance to interview him about his new memorial products and how he is entering the funeral home retail market. His product called Lifeware incorporates cremated remains into decorative ceramic design objects.
What is Lifeware?
What makes Lifeware unique is the glaze. We add cremated remains to a ceramic glaze recipe to coat porcelain design objects. The pieces are fired in a kiln to 2300 degrees fahrenheit, melting the coating into a glass on the surface of the work. We offer cremation jewelry, vases, bottles, candle luminaries, cremation urns, and more. The finished pieces are made to last for thousands of years.
You mentioned you’ve reached around 45 million people through media coverage in places like the Guardian, The Today Show, NPR, Mashable and more. How has all the positive and negative press affected business?
I think all press is good press. Andy Warhol said, “Don’t read what they write, measure it in inches.” Two months ago, no one knew Lifeware existed, now millions of people know about our products and process. Not only has the coverage jumpstarted our sales, it has also broken down a major education barrier for us and our partners. When a person walks into a funeral home showroom, instead of saying “I can’t believe this is a thing. How does it work?,” they say, “Oh, I’ve seen this on TV. What a nice keepsake.” For a product like ours, this public education is priceless.
Why do you think people are buying your memorial products?
In the memorial keepsake realm, personalization and cremation jewelry are well known trends. The core reasons for their popularity are (1) a desire for uniqueness and (2) a desire for closeness. Our products are glazed with the essence of passed loved ones, making them completely unique, and they can be integrated into daily life, keeping them close. Additionally, cremated remains are visually off putting – our glaze transforms them into something beautiful.
We’ve encountered a couple interesting trends within our first 3 months of business. We have received multiple orders for pet/person combination products, in which we combine the cremated remains of both a person and dog to create the glaze. Also, there has been a lot of interest and orders from Japan.
Have you received any feedback from customers?
One customer said about a memorial item made from his friends cremated remains, “It’s a way of sharing something with him still.” Another said about a coffee mug order, “I can hardly wait to sip coffee with my sister every morning.”
We are also working with a customer to create “remembrance beads” glazed with the ashes of her mother. She plans to drop them in bodies of water across Europe as she travels this summer.
Have you partnered with any funeral homes? What is the process like for retailers?
Yes, beginning in 2017 we’ve started to take on retail partners. Our first active partner is Berardinelli Family Funeral Service in Santa Fe, NM, and we are shipping free sample products out to a handful of homes throughout January.
When a funeral home completes a sale, they mail us the cremated remains and we’ll process the order and return the finished Lifeware typically within 3 weeks. We can also store the glaze indefinitely for easy future orders.
Through January, we will mail free samples to any funeral home who wants to see our products in person. This is a no commitment offer and if they like what they see, the sample Lifeware is showroom-ready.