Thanks to the recent support of the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, Parting Stone hopes to educate the public about caring for cremains. Parting Stone uses the cremated remains of loved ones to create smooth, solidified stones that can be held. | Photo courtesy NMSU
A final hug. A hand clasped at a bedside. Touch is a cherished sense in our final memories with our loved ones. The company Parting Stone helps those who are grieving create a new way to mourn by turning the full amount of cremated remains into smooth, solidified stones that can be touched and held.
Parting Stone’s CEO Justin Crowe believes a shift in the funeral industry is happening. Now that more people experience the grieving process through cremation, they are looking beyond keeping remains in a traditional urn.
“The popularization of cremation is fairly new,” Crowe said. “Burial had hundreds of years to develop rituals, but cremation has only had about 30. We realized that receiving remains in the form of ash was making it challenging to feel a meaningful connection, so we developed the technology to offer a solid alternative.”
According to Crowe, 1.5 million people are cremated each year in the United States. “In just the last 20 years, the cremation rate has risen 30 percent; it’s now at 55 percent. That is a giant shift for the industry and for our culture at large,” he said.
Thanks to the recent support of the Arrowhead Innovation Fund, housed at New Mexico State University, Parting Stone is poised to grow its operations.
Parting Stone does not perform the cremation itself. Instead, it works directly with more than 200 funeral homes and crematoriums to receive cremains at its lab in Santa Fe. The lab filters the ashes for contaminants, like implants or screws, before transforming them into smooth stone-like solids. Cremains from an average human body are transformed into roughly 40 to 60 different-sized “stones” equal in volume to the original ash. Solidified remains vary naturally in hue, from greens to pinks, to browns, yellows and blues, depending on the person.
Parting Stone also works with customers directly, receiving the ashes that may have rested on a shelf for decades, and transforming them into clean, touchable solids that can be kept in a pocket or on a desktop.
Parting Stone’s solidification service costs $595 and the process takes about six weeks, with individual technicians refining, forming, firing and polishing the remains. Crowe explained that over the past year, the demand for the service has grown rapidly, including solidifying the cremains of pets.
The investment from Arrowhead Innovation Fund has already allowed Crowe to increase his staff from eight to 12 and he is still looking to hire more people to his team.
“The ‘creative disruption’ of innovation has a place even in somber moments, and AIF wants to support a positive evolution of technology adoption,” said Beto Pallares, AIF fund manager. “Grief is a delicate topic, and its impact broadly reaches all of our lives. This is a holistic investment that recognizes the balance between market opportunity and respect with a comforting touch that provides families and communities an enduring way of honoring their loved one.”
“Receiving over 100 handwritten thank you letters from customers to our staff has shown us that families want an alternative to conventional cremated remains,” Crowe said. “New Mexico has provided incredible resources at each stage of our business. Investments, like this one from AIF, will have a huge impact on our growth.”
Crowe said part of the funding will go toward educating the public, so it becomes common knowledge “that when you choose cremation, you don’t have to receive ashes.”
“Families are now starting to form new rituals and experiences with solidified remains,” Crowe said. “Recently, a family shared that when they received the stones, they held a remains reveal party in which the family gathered, poured champagne and opened the box together for the first time. They passed around the solidified remains and shared memories. At the end of the night, everyone took a stone home that they liked best.”
Crowe added, “Our mission is to help empower families in their grief and we’ve already seen this option have a positive impact on hundreds of families. Our past loved ones deserve better than to be forgotten in a closet, and solidified remains is making it so that never has to happen again.”
For more information about Parting Stone, click here.
AIF has commitments for a total investment of $800,000 from New Mexico’s Catalyst Fund, a $20 million “fund of funds” to support New Mexico companies, and $500,000 from the New Mexico State University Foundation, as well as a $300,000 grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program and other private investors.
AIF stands at $2 million in commitments and is looking for companies with entrepreneurs fully committed to growing and scaling their company and who are seeking between $25,000 and $200,000 in investment toward their total seed round fundraising target.
Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU