Today I’d like to formally introduce one of MML’s newest sponsors, Juniper Urns. This company run by Stacy Armistead and Kyle Stewart has all the makings of a great business: beautiful and unique products for an under-served market, eco-friendly, socially responsible, and high-quality and emotional value. With that said, I was excited for Stacy to introduce us to her company and find out more about the urns, lessons learned from small business, and how she came into the pet urn industry.
Can you share the story behind Juniper Urns?
Kyle and I knew we both wanted to start a business that served a greater purpose. Landing on the pet urns idea was by no means an easy decision as it took us a while to figure out what the business should be. One day Kyle was talking to his friend who was researching urn options online. His friend, who comes from an eco-conscious family, had trouble finding urns that he liked. Neither Kyle nor I had ever shopped for urns before. After running an extensive search, we decided there was an opportunity to develop a line of urns for pets using more modern materials. Through a sustainability-focused networking group, we found a Chicago-based business that produces custom fair trade products and gives back to its artisans through scholarships and wellness initiatives. By producing our urns through their fair trade workshops, we help improve the livelihood of the artisans and their family in developing countries. We also wanted to help pets locally, so we donate 5% of profits to the Petfinder.com Foundation, which funds various programs that help save homeless pets.
What inspired the name Juniper Urns?
Since we are creating unique designs with modern materials, we wanted a name that had a boutique feel, and also one that makes sense given our use of natural and recycled materials. We perused a list of types of trees to see if anything would inspire us, and that’s how we stumbled upon Juniper.
What advice do you have for other small business owners who are just starting out?
Here are three valuable lessons we’ve learned:
- Don’t let the little things slow you down and don’t over think your decisions. Otherwise you’ll get nowhere fast. Just go with your gut and make adjustments as needed along the way.
- Talk to people to get feedback on your idea/business. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from picking up the phone and talking to other people in the industry. Talk to your competitors. Talk to your friends. Talk to random people you meet in the line at the grocery. They may know someone who knows someone that could help grow your business or provide valuable insight.
- Expect that things will take longer and cost more than originally planned. Budget in buffer time for each stage to help alleviate stress that can build when things run off schedule.Â Take a deep breath, it will all get done.
What is one of the most interesting things you’ve learned since starting this business?
I’ve learned that since the pet cremation industry isn’t regulated like the human cremation industry, there are some inconsistencies that pet owners need to be aware of when dealing with the loss of a pet. For example, when a family member is cremated, you can be confident in knowing that you will receive only their ashes back. This is in contrast to the unregulated pet cremation industry where owners can sign up for an “individual cremation” at the vet clinic or animal hospital, and sometimes unknowingly receive their pet’s ashes mixed with ashes from other pets. Also, the level of education and number of options that veterinary clinics and hospitals provide to owners who have lost a pet can vary significantly. To ensure you are getting the very best care for your animal, pet owners should conduct research ahead of time to find a veterinarian and crematory they can trust.
I [also recently] asked the owner of the crematory, “how can pet owners identify an ethical crematory?” He said one of the best questions to ask the crematory is “can I view the cremation?” If the crematory says no, it is likely because they are hiding unethical practices.
Juniper Urns’ Social Responsibility video
PS- Enter the code MUML for $10 off at Juniper Urns!