By Thomas A. Parmalee
Adam Binstock is a man of the world with a love for honoring the dead through original art.
A native of Australia, he lives with his wife in Medellin, Columbia, and is the founder and CEO of You Are Forever Memorials, which offers merchandise created by artisans that it sells directly to the public. (Binstock is pictured at the top of this article with his wife, Alejandra Hurtado, who serves as the customer relationship manager of You Are Forever.)
“A lot of funeral homes are beginning to wake up, and they do offer more alternative memorials such as cremation jewelry, diamonds and handmade urns,” he said.
But when members of the public want something a bit different, they often turn to companies like his, he said.
We recently caught up with Binstock to learn more about his company and his connection to death care. Edited excerpts follow.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I was born into the death-care industry as my grandfather started a stonemasonry business in 1958. That business still operates today with my father and brother managing it.
I also worked in the business learning the trade and also handling the marketing side of the business. I created the company website and became interested in online marketing. That led me to start an Australian death care website called At Peace and later the Cremation Institute (which has a more global audience).
In that time, I found there was a real lack of information relating to planning a funeral. So, I created those sites to help people find quality answers to important questions they had about the end of life.
Much of your energy these days is devoted to your role as the CEO of You Are Forever Memorials. Why did you start the company? What makes your company different from other memorial companies?
Over the years, we have seen the Cremation Institute grow, and we’ve seen a lot of interest from our audience in the nontraditional memorial space. This is basically people wanting to celebrate the life of a loved one in a way that’s special to the deceased and family.
So, we thought that selling handmade artisan memorials would be a nice complement to the information that we provide on the Cremation Institute. It’s still a new brand, about a year old, but it’s growing consistently.
What makes us different? We’re all about celebration of life and therefore want to sell sustainably sourced memorials that can be personalized. We also prefer to support local North American artists who are creative and passionate about what they do.
You sell cremation urns, memorial jewelry, cremation art and pet memorials … what is your most popular category?
Biodegradable urns are very popular and also some of our memorial jewelry products.
If a company wants to get their merchandise featured on your site, how does that work?
Currently, we work with around 15 artists. We’re very picky about the artists we choose. We look at the type of memorials that they make and decide whether it is a good fit for our site. If everything is fine in that regard, we like to start off with a call with the artists and talk about each other’s expectations. If everything is aligned, we move forward. Nearly all of our artists are based in the US, apart from a few that are located in Europe.
What do you look for in potential artist partners?
- They create handmade memorials that have a unique design and are of high quality.
- The artist is able to fulfill a certain output of products each month.
- The artist is able to offer a reasonable wholesale rate to us.
Who buys your product?
Right now, we only sell direct to the customer.
At this point, we have no plans to sell to funeral homes or cemeteries. This might change in the future, but right now we focus on good service directly to the customer.
And where does most of your business come from?
We focus on North America, so the United States and Canada are where our customers are from.
What about online retailers … do you also sell on Amazon or Etsy through any of the big box sites like Walmart, etc.?
We are definitely considering some of these channels, but right now our focus is the customers on our website.
Why are you so passionate about this line of work – what do you enjoy most about it?
I have a lot of contact with the customers at the moment, and it’s always rewarding to know that I was able to help them and give them a positive experience during their difficult time. When they tell me this, this keeps me focused on what I’m doing and why it’s important.
Learn more about You Are Forever Memorials.