THE BLOG
10/20/2014 03:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Entrepreneur Wants You to Celebrate Your Mortality

2014-10-18-rsz_irina_11.jpg

Although life's path is different for everyone, every path meets the same end eventually. This is the only true certainty we have in life. But Irina Jordan, founder of customized memorial item marketplace Artisurn, understands death as an inevitable part of the cycle of life, and because of that, she finds beauty and peace in it. As an entrepreneur who looks death in the face every day, she sees all sides of it: the details and funeral planning, the grief of family members and friends, and the realization of one's own mortality.

And yet, Irina isn't depressed or solemn. She believes in celebrating mortality and making the most of life while we can. She wants to change the way we look at, talk about, and even prepare for death.

Born in Russia, Irina took education seriously and had a Master's degree in English, German, and Education by the time she was 22. She moved to the United States to pursue her second Master's degree after traveling through Europe and Asia. Irina's taste for adventure and extensive education later proved to be important building blocks in the foundation of her business, Artisurn.

The idea for Artisurn came to Irina about a year ago, when after a close friends' unexpected death, she couldn't find the perfect urn for her friend's remains. Nothing available online seemed to be worthy of her colorful and treasured friend. She considered the value that a marketplace specializing in customized memorial vessels could provide to those grieving like she was.

And through her sadness, Irina emerged an entrepreneur. She felt people needed the option to select a handcrafted urn, keepsake, or piece of jewelry to commemorate a loved one over an impersonal manufactured product. She didn't hesitate to disrupt the memorial industry and begin offering something new. In an interview about the origins of her company, Irina talked about Artisurn's basis: "I founded it on the premise that everyone deserves a lovingly handmade memorial vessel. People can celebrate the life of a loved one or beloved pet by finding a unique memorial piece that they can proudly display in their homes or wear close to their heart."

Even with a solid business model and her trademark optimism, starting Artisurn wasn't easy. Irina quickly realized that although she doesn't treat death as a thing to be feared, but to be expected and prepared for, others didn't like talking about death and final wishes. And when she realized others' perceptions of advance planning were different from her own, she adapted once again. It's often uncomfortable for us to wrestle with the notion of our own mortality, and this meant she had to find alternative ways to introduce people to the unique concept of Artisurn.

At first, she targeted funeral directors, but soon learned that the real magic happens when you deal directly with your customer. She took to social media to get the word out, offer encouragement, and provide fans and followers with regular updates on products and specials. She also underwent grief counseling training to provide more value to her customers. By adapting to changing circumstances and new information, Irina successfully navigated Artisurn through the difficult first months, and she's been operating online successfully since!

Irina says the most rewarding part of Artisurn is "...the ability to help people when they are emotionally raw and vulnerable and being able to support talented artisans who specialize in handcrafted memorial pieces and earn their livelihood by doing so." She also leaves some uplifting advice to struggling or would-be entrepreneurs: "If you are truly passionate about your business and what it provides, keep going. It is of vital importance to stay optimistic and full of energy to make your business a success. Also, keep on hustling, in slow and busy times. Being consistent is critical to your business' longevity and profitability."