NEW ULM - Brother and sister Tim Standafer of Belle Plaine and Lori Standafer of New Ulm have gone into business together creating and selling Journey Urns cremation urns.
The seed of beginning Journey Urns was first planted when their mother died.
"We needed to get an urn for her cremains," said Lori, "She actually died in Colorado and we had a service in Kansas. So we had to buy an urn there."
Photo by Steve Muscatello
Lori Standafer of New Ulm and Tim Standafer of Belle Plaine have started a business together selling Journey Urns, Going Home Cremation Urns.
Earlier their mother had asked Tim to make an urn for her because he had made one for their father.
"She kind of showed it (the urn) off to friends and family and visitors who came to see her in Kansas," said Lori.
What they bought for their mother in Kansas was "a square little box with a nice price tag on it," Lori said.
"We decided that we would try to make some that were more beautiful," said Lori, "And see if we could start a business doing that."
Tim did make an urn for their mother's cremains. The finished product was a 'box' more beautiful than their mother could have imagined with the names of all her children and grandchildren were artfully carved on its surface.
"Our love for our mother and desire to bury her in a way that reflected the beauty of her life led us to create Journey Urns," said Lori, "With loving memories of family and friends who have competed their journeys."
Tim, who has been working with wood his whole life, creates the urns out of various kinds of wood.
Lori then sells the urns at her coffee shop called Cornerstone Coffee located at 213 S. Minnesota St. in New Ulm. The urns are also sold through a website on the Internet.
"I started when I was just a kid doing stuff (with wood)," said Tim, "In high school I just loved shop. I made some things and won a trip to the State Fair with my desk I made."
When Tim went to college, he majored in industrial arts. He was also an industrial arts teacher for a while.
"I just liked working with wood," said Tim, "My grandpa gave me a little piece of wood and sandpaper when I was about five and I kept sanding and sanding and made it smooth. I've always liked making things - houses, furniture."
He has also made things like cat houses and communion tables, Lori said.
"One of his friends recently turned 60, and he made him a rocking chair," said Lori. "He does superb work."
He has also made lots of rocking chairs for children.
Each Journey Urn that Tim makes is hand-crafted, high-quality and unique. If someone likes a particular style from their website they can place an order. Due to variations in the woods each urn will be unique.
"I get all excited about wood because I know how rare it is to find some of that wood that I use ... and I think it's like finding gold when you find wood like that," said Tim.
He will buy some of the wood he uses to make the urns. He uses tiger stripe maple, walnut, Missouri walnut, cherry, paduck, wormy butternut, and maple woods in their urns.
"I also use a lot of wood that can't be used by anyone else," said Tim, "I cut around the defects ... I find wood for free. There's a lot of wood for sale on e-Bay. So far, I haven't spent a ton of money on wood."
If Tim knows ahead of time, he can do some engraving on the urns. People can also get stone(s) inlaid into the urns.
For the most part, people will bury an urn with cremains in it.
"People will look at this (urn) and say, 'It's too beautiful to just bury in the ground,'" said Tim, "But yet, it's not even a tenth of the cost of a casket and the casket is getting buried in the ground."
Tim said that cremations are up about 30 percent now.
"More people are just conscious of the expense of burying a body it's (cremation) becoming more popular," said Tim, "There's a lot of companies that sell urns as we're finding out. They're made out of marble, glass, metal. This is kind of unique because they're made out of wood ... and still getting an elegant look."
Tim and Lori have been making and selling their urns since Jan. 1 of this year.
"I just started making them and stock-piling them," said Tim, "We just started having sales three or four months ago."
Tim and Lori have done mailings about their business to funeral homes in Minnesota.
"We really want to market to funeral homes," said Tim.
Some funeral home directors have told them that they should consistently produce a certain style(s) for people to buy.
Tim said he still works part-time as a counselor at Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie, but he has been thinking about retiring from that job.
"We're thinking about having a show," said Tim, "There's several different funeral directors' conferences where you can purchase a booth. We're still trying to feel our way into how we are going to market them and get people to our product. Eventually it will catch on."
Creating food-safe wooden bowls is another potential part of the business.
"I'm going to make some wooden bowls with covers ... like you could put hot bread in on Thanksgiving and finish it with wood-safe finish of beeswax and walnut oil," said Tim, "That way you could actually eat off the surface. We'll sell those a lot cheaper. We're going to have a wooden bowl section on our website."
For more information or to order a Journey Urn log on to www.journeyurns.com