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This Portland Startup is Redesigning Cremation

Solace is designed to demystify and simplify the typically analog end-of-life experience.

Presented by Solace Cremation August 27, 2019

Image: Joshua Earle

Death is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, typical funeral care can feel anything but natural. And it can be an unwelcome surprise—the sheer number of decisions, the urgency of it all, the expense at every turn—right when you’re least equipped to handle it. 

Founded by former Nike Executive Creative Directors Keith Crawford and David Odusanya, Solace Cremation is designed to demystify and simplify the typically analog end-of-life experience.  

Cremation services designed with family in mind 

The idea for Solace came about after Crawford and Odusanya both experienced the loss of their parents. After reflecting on their shared experience and mutual feelings of frustration and disappointment with the process, they realized there could be a better way to arrange end-of-life services without faxing paperwork, multiple trips to a funeral home and prices higher than advertised. Solace is designed to make the process more simple and transparent for families and give them time to prepare and time to remember and celebrate their loved ones.

Image: Grace Young

“When my dad died six years ago, we had a horrible funeral experience. From the creepy funeral home and pressured up-selling, to the mountain of paperwork and unexpected costs, it was all very overwhelming,” said Crawford, Solace co-founder and CEO. “David Odusanya and I founded Solace to reimagine this experience and make it less gloomy, more modern, more transparent and bring good design and design thinking to a long-overlooked industry.”

Currently serving the Portland metro area, Solace has turned making cremation arrangements into both personal and digital experiences with an online arrangements platform to allow families to make arrangements from a computer or mobile device, or if preferred, by phone.  

“Purchasing cremation services shouldn’t be an anonymous online transaction, because nothing is more deeply personal than handling the passing of a loved one,” Crawford said. “Our Solace Care Team is made up of individuals with deep backgrounds in serving people. The team comes from a number of different industries including death care, healthcare and early education.  As a team, we undertake extensive training specific to the death care industry and problem resolution so that we can serve families at the highest level.”

Simple, modern, and honest

Image: Casey Horner

In addition to a Solace Care Team available 24-7 to help families in their time of need, Solace offers digitized paperwork and one inclusive price. The provider is innovative, not only for its offering, but also for the way the company has paired industry experts and outside entrepreneurs to invent a better way of arranging end-of-life services. 

One concern families have when selecting a provider is the cost of cremation services. Most people find out the real cost of cremation at the absolute worst time—when a loved one has died and they’re in the midst of their own grief. It’s a time when regular life can feel turned upside down. People navigate a process that may be completely new.

“Families are often charged for services beyond their control,” said Solace’s Funeral Director Malisa Riceci. “For example, pacemaker removal or the shipment of remains outside the provider’s service area. Sometimes families can be charged for small but emotionally critical requests, like receiving a lock of their loved one’s hair. Solace does not treat circumstances and wishes like transactions. Instead, they are treated as a sacred service to the family.”

Priced at $895, Solace’s direct cremation service includes 24-7, concierge-style customer service, funeral director and staff, assistance with paperwork, transportation of the deceased, cremation, return of cremated remains in the Solace urn and all necessary permits and fees. Solace doesn’t have a starter price and extra costs for small requests or situations outside the families control. Families never pay more than $895, ever.

“You have to ask questions when choosing a provider when someone has passed,” Riceci said. “A majority of funeral homes all offer the same services and packages, but there is a very wide range of prices. This is especially true and confusing with direct cremation because everyone is seemingly offering the same thing.”

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is never easy. By using modern tools to streamline the process for grieving families, Solace hopes to alleviate some of the stress with arranging end-of-life services and envision a better way. 

“If you’ve been through losing a loved one, you’ll know exactly what we mean when we say there has to be a better way to deal with the stress, confusion and the inevitable feeling of being taken advantage of at your most vulnerable time,” said Odusanya, Solace co-founder. “Keith and I asked ourselves, ‘Why is the death care industry still in the 19th Century and everything is centered around maximizing profit instead of serving families in tough times? Solace is here to help families in their time of need. That is our priority”

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