11/18/2020

Small Business Spotlight

A Business Born from Grief: Drake's Memorial Services and More

In this exclusive interview, entrepreneur Andy Cole shares how he honors his late grandson through his business, Drake's Memorial Services and More.

Katie Lee

Marketing Manager

Andy Cole, founder of Drake's Memorials and More, shares his advice for new and part-time business owners, and his custom merchandise helps customers honor their loved ones. Find Drake's Memorials and More on their website and Facebook.

Hatch:

Welcome to Hatch Small Business Spotlights, where small business owners share stories about getting started, lessons learned, and victories won along the way to building their businesses. It's Steven here again, and today I spoke with Andy of Drake's Memorials and More. Andy's business is a deeply personal thing to him and his customers. And like so many small business owners, it's clear that for him, this is first and foremost, a labor of love.

Andy:

Hi. I'm Andy. I am President and CEO of Drake's Memorials and More. We offer memorial items and we specialize in custom items, like we do pillows, t-shirts, cups, 3D crystal items. We even offer headstones, almost anything that can be personalized to help honor the memory of a loved one, we can do it.

Hatch:

To start off, I understand that there's a pretty sad story about how you got into this business. Can you share how you got started?

Andy:

Sure. After the death of my grandson, he was three months old at the time we lost him, I was looking for ways to honor his memory and I started with creating items for myself to help honor that. And in other people being able to see and share those, it prompted a lot of interest. One item was, I made a vinyl decal for the back window of my car and at gas stations or shopping centers or whatever, I'd often get people ask, "Hey, where did you get that?" And I was like, "I made it."

And I told them about some of the other items I did and it brought to mind that there's other people that also... Because they'll tell their story too, lost loved ones and it seems like losing a child is a special pain that people that have suffered that share. And at that point, it grew into, I can help others honor their loved ones too and that's how the business aspect of this came about.

Hatch:

Yeah. I mean, that's a terrible tragedy, of course. And it seems like the idea for the business, it sounds like, arose out of conversations started by something that you had just done for yourself. Can you tell me a little bit more about those conversations and how you realized that there was a business here?

Andy:

Yeah. For the vinyl decal for the window, they're thinking, "How do I get one?" And I'm like, "Okay, well, if you gave me your information, I can make one up for you." I just basically created it in Photoshop. I had created a memorial video for Drake that I shared online. And there's some other stuff that I had done and it was to help me cope with that. And I realized that, again, I can help a lot of other people. Some of the stuff other people had never even heard of, or they're like, "I've seen that, but I didn't know where to get one." Because there are some people that, within my own family, that they choose not to talk about it.

It can be very painful, but for me personally, talking about it is therapeutic. I need to do that. It's something that I need. And I realized now that there's other people that are the same and other people may not necessarily want to talk about it, but they want to have that little keepsake item that they can put on their dresser or hang around their neck. That will always be that reminder of that loved one that they are trying to honor.

Hatch:

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and the skill set that you had going into this? And how much of that was already there and how much of it was something that you learned?

Andy:

I've freelanced as a videographer for over 25, probably close to 30 years. So that part of it, that was one of the first things that I did, because it came naturally. Okay, I want to do something here so I put together... I also do video memorial slideshows for some funeral homes. So I'd had experience in that aspect of it too. When I'm trying to accomplish something, I can go on to YouTube or wherever and find out how I need to perform a specific effect that I'm trying to achieve.

This is my creation and being able to, again, all through this process honor Drake's memory and then helping others honor the memory of their loved ones, I just feel the freedom of that creativity, I don't know that I'm any kind of Rembrandt or anything like that, but I like to let my mind just think freely. Sometimes I can look at something and really take a, "Wow, do this to that and that would be really neat."

Because some of the other ideas that I'm actually working on is not only younger, but for instance, I'll say with my grandfather, I acquire it was the tie clip that he wore and setting up a little display where I can display that item and then have a plate that will just briefly explain what this is and who it belonged to. And that's a way that we can honor the memory of our ancestors or anyone that we choose to honor the memory of. Sometimes my mind goes much faster than my hands in terms of being able to turn these ideas into products.

Hatch:

Right. What were some of the difficulties that you faced as you turned this into a business?

Andy:

Probably the hardest part is... Well, other than the marketing, that's always been a struggle for me in terms of a business aspect. Now, you put me in a situation where you're a group of people, face to face, I'll have no problem engaging and sharing that. It's putting it into the business aspect of promoting the business on Facebook or whatever marketing platform you want to use. That has probably been the struggle and charging people sometimes is hard because, to me, these items that are priceless in their value. And it's hard for me to put a numerical figure on it. But I mean, that is part of the business.

So, if I could, I would just give it all away just to help people, but I can't buy the supplies and produce the things if I don't charge for them. So, research, I will look at the offerings that other companies have and gauge the quality and the size and the options and to try to come up with a fair price, a fair value of what that is on the market, because I want there to be something for everyone. Sometimes people... Well, simply they just don't have the disposable income to spend a few hundred dollars on an elaborate piece, but yet they deserve to honor their loved one just as well.

Hatch:

So can you tell me a little bit about just how it's looked as this business has grown? I mean, just what the company looks like now, what your everyday work looks like now?

Andy:

I mean, I do work a full-time job during the day, so this is done on the nights and the weekends and any time in between, but it consumes a lot of my thoughts throughout the day. If I'm driving somewhere, a lot of times in that driving time, there's thoughts always going through my mind and different ideas and sometimes I'll have to pick up the phone or something and do a voice memo or something like, "Okay, I got to remember that," because this idea popped into my head. So, I'm on the phone a lot and get to talk to people as well. And sometimes during the conversation, maybe while I'm waiting for a program to load or something like that, we can engage in small talk to fill the time.

And sometimes these kinds of conversations come up and I'm often surprised at how many other people are affected by the unexpected loss of a loved one, especially a child. I learn every day there's people that are affected by it and you're like, "Wow. I never knew." And I think a lot of people don't talk about it for one reason or another, but I think engaging in conversation, they feel comfortable enough to share it. And I think, at least for me, that that's very, it's therapeutic and it's helpful and probably it would help others too just to talk, maybe they just need the right person to talk to.

Which actually another aspect of the business that I'm working on is actually creating a blog where it's a place where people that have suffered these types of loss, they don't have to buy anything from Drake's Memorials. To get some help and some comfort from it, just a place to be able to share their thoughts and feelings, the blog will be a separate entity from Drake's Memorials and More, but connected in that process.

Hatch:

So, at what point in your business journey did you become aware of Hatch and can you talk about the role that Hatch has played?

Andy:

Yeah. I ran across Hatch when... Let me back up a second here. The different products that Drake's Memorial and More offers, there's some that we order from suppliers and there might be little, or maybe in some case no modifications and we would just simply ship those. But there are some items that we'll actually produce in house. And some of the machinery that I was looking at was laser engravers, 3D printers, embroider machines for apparel. And some of that machinery can be quite pricey.

Going through the process, looking at different options as far as financing them or what ways do businesses handle this and as far as trying to finance machinery and supplies and that things. Anyway, that's where I ran across Hatch and I think, "Okay." So I opened up the account with them and that will help me along in my journey of supplies and materials and machinery that I need. And then here we are.

Hatch:

Were there any specific things that you were able to get once you had that line of credit that you had been waiting on or that you were excited to finally be able to get?

Andy:

Yes. I did get the laser engraver and that's just the beginning. There's other machinery and stuff that I'm still researching, the 3D printer being one.

Hatch:

I mean, clearly this is something that you find fulfilling, you've used the word therapeutic. Can you just, in your own words, describe what it is that you get out of this business and out of what you do for people?

Andy:

For me, it's a satisfaction and, like I said, I honor Drake's memory every day. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of that kid. And I am absolutely convinced that other people that have loved ones, whatever age, it's much the same way. That memory of them that they hold dear in their heart and a way to be able to honor that memory using Drake's Memorials to help that process. Anyone that can gain from that, to me, I feel very blessed when I'm able to, as Drake's Memorials and More, help someone else honor the memory of their loved one, because we're all in this together. We're to help one another and this is a way that I'm able to do that.

---


This interview was recorded and produced by the awesome team at Artifact. Give them a visit if you're looking for personal podcasts to tell your story!


Keep reading…

A Lasting Labor of Love: Janoff's Stationery

A Lasting Labor of Love: Janoff's Stationery

Learn how the historic NYC art and office supply store, Janoff's Stationery, is surviving the pandemic thanks to its loyal community of local customers and its devoted owners, Jim and Jerry Ma.

Read more…
How a Brewery Successfully Opened During COVID-19: Dr. Brewlittle's Beer Co.

How a Brewery Successfully Opened During COVID-19: Dr. Brewlittle's Beer Co.

Learn why Jack O'Connell was happy to open his first business, Dr. Brewlittle's Beer Co., during COVID-19, and how he used social media to form his community of loyal customers.

Read more…
Top Tips for Increasing Online Sales During COVID: Rare Film Vault

Top Tips for Increasing Online Sales During COVID: Rare Film Vault

Justin Gideon from Rare Film Vault shares his top tips for e-commerce success, how his business has actually expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic and also discusses his favorite films and projects.

Read more…

It's Time to Hatch!

There's no catch with Hatch. Get fast and easy access to funds to grow your business.

Apply Now!