- Professional stylists and former wedding planners, the women of Going Out In Style, have now turned to the funeral business.
- Their services cover all aspects of the event, and they encourage clients to think outside of the box.
- They work both with consulting clients who are looking to pre-plan their funerals, and the families of the deceased.
The four women of Going Out In Style want you to think differently about death.
That is, what happens after your death – including what you’d like your funeral service to look like, smell like, taste like, and feel like for the guests.
Of course, you won’t be there to enjoy it, but GOIS wants to style, organise, and throw you the ultimate after-party anyway. The women consult with clients prior to death, as well as family or friends of the deceased.
Their last client – who held a memorial service at New York City’s renowned power-lunch spot, The Grill – was celebrated and remembered with napkins depicting custom illustrations of his two dogs, his favourite sayings printed on coasters, and a cart serving whiskey – his preferred drink. They approached the client’s family with a simple request: “Tell us a story about him.” From there, they begin their planning.
They stand firmly behind the idea that their funeral-styling services help those you’ve left behind. “In the time of need, wouldn’t it be nice if you knew exactly what that person wanted instead of trying to guess?” co-founder Cassidy Iwersen told Business Insider.
With an attention to detail similar to wedding planning, Naomi DeManana, Colleen Banks, Erin Furey, and Iwersen plan every aspect of the event – and no request is too absurd.
“Specialty gifts we can also provide include a visit to your home to hide secrets and embarrassing items – or deleting your browsing history,” said Iwersen.
We followed the ladies of Going Out In Style for a day to get an idea of how they operate – and what they can offer clients.
Our first stop was Manhattan’s flower district — where DeManana was picking up a bouquet of red roses as a thank you gift for a former client.
Their services span floral arrangements, location and venue booking, invitations, musical arrangements, the food, organising readings, how you’d like to be buried or cremated, what you’ll be wearing inside your casket, what your casket will be made of, and the parting gifts – anything and everything you, or your family might request on your behalf.
As professional stylists and former wedding planners, the team has years of experience creating and executing large-scale events.
Iwersen noted the difference in their new line of work: “People are grieving, and they really need you to help come in…and tease out these details quickly while they’re a little clouded or sad. It feels good to use our skills that way.”
When consulting with clients, the questions they ask branch out well beyond the major event musts, down to the nitty gritty details.
No request is too over the top. They have a list of questions they ask, starting with the main event. “Is it a funeral? Memorial? A party or an ocean send off? What’s the location? Is it a destination funeral? Time of day? The guest list? Invitation – is there one? Is it printed? An email? Delivered by carrier pigeons?” said Iwersen.
Location is key. Next on their to-do list was viewing the mid-town bar, restaurant, and event space the Hunt and Fish Club for a prospective client.
With their clients they discuss everything – from the type of flowers and colours scheme they would want, to the readings they’d like to have (poems? religious passages? excerpts from books?). Who would be the pallbearers, and how would they be dressed? Printed matter that’s passed out during the service is an important detail too – they suggested anything from prayer cards to programs to zines.
And of course, personal wardrobe style is taken into account. They ask clients what outfit they’d want to be wearing and their accessories. Hair and makeup is also up for discussion.
Beyond the actual event planning, their service offerings extend into the personal lives of the clients.
They also have a “ways to live on” selection of services including: enacting wishes through out the years following such as seeds planted in your honour, notes tucked in books, gestures and gifts for unborn grandchildren.
Aiming to bring freshness to what they believe is a stale industry, they encourage their clients to think outside the box.
Throughout the day they discussed ideas they’d like to execute: pub crawls instead of a formal service, a destination funeral (similar to a destination wedding), and pre-death gatherings.
While a majority of their clients have come from word of mouth, the team uses their social media presence to communicate their personalities.
Last summer they hosted an all-black attire beach party. “We approach things sometimes with a bit of dark humour or levity,” said Furey. “Y-O-D-O. You only die once.”
For lunch, they stopped into the Baccarat Hotel’s Grand Salon for their afternoon tea offerings.
Later, they were meeting a client who was interested in their consulting and pre-planning services.
“Something we’ve learned is that — from a psychological perspective — the ceremony and doing these things really helps the grieving process. It helps people feel like they did them right,” said DeManana.
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