Thursday, May 23, 2024

How he turned his side hustle into a 6-figure business


Rodney Melton’s side hustle turned into a profitable business that allowed him to quit his full-time AND part-time jobs. He was able to make $20,000 in ONE month!

Rodney tells us about the ins and outs of running his pet memorial business, Melton Memorials.

Make sure you read until the end to see his advice for starting your own pet memorial business!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start your business?

Hello! My name is Rodney Melton. I was a full time factory worker and part time had joined my brother in a decorative concrete business in 2019.

While working with decorative concrete a co-worker of mine had lost his dog and asked if I could save some concrete and make a memorial for Molly. I made a picture of what I created and listed it on Etsy. The smile on his face was worth all of my efforts!

I then knew I loved helping others navigate the grief of pet loss through memorial stones. I was using a CNC engraver and the orders trickled in sporadically. Around June of 2020, the order volume increased.

It quickly became unattainable to produce the volume with a CNC and I opted to buy sandblasting equipment. Sandblasting is the standard in all monument companies for headstones.

This proved to be a much faster solution. I then started offering heart shaped stones as well as granite pet memorials instead of concrete.

At this time the business really took off and within months I faced the decision of continuing full time employment or throttling down the pet memorial business. My wife and I chose to do pet memorials full time. We then bought a laser engraver to put pet images onto black granite stones.

2. Could you detail the steps involved in the launch of your business?

Most of this question is answered above. However, one aspect not covered is the concrete stone molds. Once I achieve a design that I am happy with I make rubber molds of this design so that I can mass produce the same stone over and over.

3. Can you tell me about the process of creating personalized tombstones for pets?

Currently, the process is: I receive an order. I make a mock up preview to try creating what the customer has in mind and for the customer to verify spelling and dates of life. Once the preview is agreed on I will send this file to a stencil cutter.

Next, we put the stencil on the stone and sandblast/pain/seal/ship.

4. What materials do you use for your pet tombstones, and why did you choose them? What tools does someone need to get started?

The tools I use are CNC router, laser engraver, stencil cutter, sandblast cabinet, sand blasting pot which holds the sand, air compressor which provides air to the sandblast pot and painting area.

5. How do you handle the emotional aspect of creating memorials for pets?

This is likely the toughest question asked! Emotionally I am attached to pets and I understand pet loss to the best of my ability. I have accepted that tears are shed by each customer no matter if they ordered the least or most expensive product I offer.

Each pet meant a lot to each customer and I never lose sight of this. Each memorial I make has meaning to me and I try to make each as if it were for my pet or loved one.

6. How do you market your business and attract customers?

Attracting customers is a goal of any business. However, in my business I do not hope for a customer simply due to the loss that accompanied me gaining their business.

I initially listed on Etsy and customers found me. I have since created a website for another way of customers in need to reach me. Etsy has proved to be the most beneficial.

A lot of people say Etsy fees are too much but I I fine with their percentage. Keeping %90 of the customers they bring is much better than %0 from not having a selling platform.

Etsy has been a good source of sales and I have no complaints, matter of fact I could say many things about the benefits of this sales avenue.

7. How do you handle custom requests or special design preferences from clients?

Each customer sends me a general idea of what they are looking for. I use my creativity to generate a computerized preview that captures what I think the customer wants.

I email the preview to each customer an at times I am wrong or I have a typo in the spelling or dates, but the majority of my email replies will say “perfect”.

If there are corrections or design changes request I of course make the changes and then send a revised preview and back and forth until it is just as the customer wants. Once approved I mark the order as approved and ready for production.

8. What tools or platforms do you use for your business?

I use mainly Etsy and my website for orders. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of each customer and when the memorial is due. I use VCarve software to create designs and previews.

9. How much do you earn with your business?

For the last 2 years – 2022 and 2023 I have had 200k plus in sales and my calculations are after all expenses and shipping I clear about 60-65 percent of total sales.

10. Do you offer any additional services or products related to pet memorials besides tombstones?

I have branched out to assist local funeral homes with human memorials and I have done a few human urn memorials in my shop but I find that sticking to your one passion is the best.

11. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own pet tombstone business?

Best advice is to first make sure your heart is in it for the right reason, if not it will simply be a job or chore that makes some money but not enjoyable. You first and foremost should have a heart to help others navigate the journey of pet loss.

It is said that the loss of a pet has more grieving associated with it than losing a human. This is due to their unconditional love and many other factors. But please don’t consider this business for a financial win for yourself.

Put others first to be successful. To become more successful – serve more people. Sounds simple but many ignore these aspects once they begin earning money from a business.

12. What future goals or plans do you have for expanding your Melton Memorial? 

I don’t have huge future goals, which sounds awful coming from a business owner. My wife and I enjoy what we do and are comfortable with it. I do a lot of development on future products to offer as markets always move and shift.

Such as the memorial industry it has started leaning towards cremation and I have kept this in mind and offer cremation urns now. But there will always be a place for a memorial stone under the favorite tree or in a garden.

We are in our 50’s and plan to make memorials for others until it becomes more than we can handle, which at that time we will pass the memorial making to our children if they wish to continue memorials.

13. How can others find you- as we are all fans of you now?

Anyone can find us at www.meltonmemorials.com or on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MeltonMemorials


Thank you, Rodney! We know losing a pet is such a difficult time for their owners. We love that you are creating memorials to remember their furry friends for years to come.

Check out Melton Memorials website for more information.

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