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Can you tell me a bit about how your business began?

I started laying the foundations for the business with a partner in 2016 after a couple deaths in my extended family revealed the need for an economical, environmentally friendly casket. During my research I learned about a growing trend called Green or Natural Burial. The shop opened in early 2017 and from there we began offering our fiddlehead casket to funeral homes around the Maritimes. After having inquiries from outside the Maritimes, the fiddlehead casket kit was developed in 2018 and is now the main product and we are able to ship across North America. These are mostly sold to individuals but also some funeral homes.

Tell me about your business? What does your business do? What products and/or services do you offer?

The business really has 2 sides: funeral products (casket kits, urns, burial shrouds) and custom woodworking done locally under the “fiddlehead custom” banner (furniture, cabinets, etc.). The funeral products work on an e-commerce model and the custom woodworking is a more traditional, local service model.

Tell me a bit about your clientele, who are the people who use, buy or take advantage of your products and services?

For the most part, people that buy the casket kit are doing so as part of their end of life planning. They love the product and are able to order one and store it until it is needed. Sometimes people will have a need in the near future and are taking care of things before it’s an emergency so their family has less to handle. Many are interested in Green Burials which are less impactful on the environment compared to traditional burials of cremation. Some have decided that they will put the casket to use as a bookshelf and hopefully will get years of use out of it.

The custom woodworking clients are a mix of homeowners, interior designers with some B2B with other local businesses.

How many staff do you employ?

Mostly I have been the only staff person although I have had a co-op student and a part-time employee in the last few years.

Is your business involved in any community activities or organizations?

I am a board member of the Green Burial Society of Canada, a nation-wide advocacy group as well as the Program Advisory Committee for Cabinetmaker apprentices in New Brunswick.

Can you tell me about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had while working for the business? Favourite customers?

I don’t often get feedback from casket kit customers and when I do, it’s usually a short thank-you. It is a great feeling to know that I have provided someone with a casket that is just the right “fit” with their values. People will sometimes paint or decorate the caskets to really personalize them. One of the most amazing examples was for a family from St. Mary’s First Nation that had a couple of Wolastiqiyik artists paint the outside with traditional designs. Some photos can be seen on the website.

Favourite custom woodworking customers range from a downtown café to a client that commissioned pieces inspired by the medieval era to a handful of pieces made from an old family piano.

What are you most proud of in your business?

I am proud to be able to fill a need for people that feel that traditional caskets are not the right thing for them.

What kind of challenges have you experienced in your business and how were you able to overcome them?

A big challenge early on was pivoting from selling through local funeral homes to an expanded market across Canada and the United States. Designing a model that could flat-pack, setting up an ecommerce store and sorting out shipping definitely took some figuring.

What sets you apart from your competition?

There are some other flat-packed caskets on the market but their assembly is complicated, takes hours to do and you have to have some tools. The fiddlehead casket kit takes 30 minutes to assemble and everything you need to put it together is in the box. Simplicity was always top-of-mind in the product development phase because the person tasked with putting the kit together might have no building experience.

What is the biggest risk facing your business or your industry?

A lack of skilled tradespeople is a problem across the country. Woodworking businesses everywhere are having a hard time finding people that can immediately contribute at full capacity and instead have to focus on extensive training of new hires.

What is next for your business? Any exciting projects you want to tell us about?

Hiring an apprentice would free up time to prototype new design ideas and build on existing customer relationships. This time last year I was interviewing for the FOXTV Snake Oil show so sometimes you never know what might happen! The custom woodworking projects I take on tend to be interesting as well. In the past few years I have made pieces from an old piano, made boardroom tables as well as furniture for an outdoor classroom.

How do you feel about the economy and opportunities in NB?

I think there are opportunities for NB companies who are able to do business outside of their own back yard. By being able to connect to customers through e-commerce platforms or virtual meetings the potential reach is huge. I wonder about a wave of business closures for companies that had CEBA loans that are not able to repay now that they’re coming due.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about your business?

I wish more people knew that there are lots of end-of-life options out there and that there is something for everyone once they look around.

What is the best advice you ever received as a business owner?

The deal isn’t done until the cheque is in the bank.

Any final remarks? Is there any other information that you would like for me to add to your article?

-For more information and ordering see:

-Find us on Facebook and Instagram @fiddleheadcaskets, @fiddleheadcustom

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