THE MEMORY COLLECTIVE

A SMALL BUSINESS WITH BIG PLANS

The Memory Collective LLC was founded April 4, 2019–perhaps not so coincidentally on the 8th anniversary of my Aunt Pat’s death–in Irvington, Indiana, which is a poetic and fitting place for a little seed of a company to grow into a towering, awe-inspiring behemoth. Though we are currently a small indie business (population: 1), we have massive plans. International plans. You see, I can only help so many families in a week or a month or a year while I am growing my business, but it’s my mission to preserve the memories of the world. I need help to do it. In fact, I need an entire workforce of people all over the globe to achieve what I know this could be. We will start small, contracting work locally to help those in our community first, then the state, then the Midwest, then the nation, then the world. By purchasing any of our products or services, you will be helping other families capture invaluable heritage, creating meaningful jobs in a plethora of fields, and supporting the charities that better the lives of our loved ones and the world.

We are actively seeking affiliate partners, partnering non-profits and businesses, and charitable contributions to get the company off the ground and into the hands of the people who need this service most. We are also already on the lookout for people who might be interested in working for us. If any of that is you, check out our Contact page for more details.

ORIGIN STORY

KARA LONG | FOUNDER

Okay, there isn’t enough space here for a full origin story. But I’ll give you some bullet points. I’m a multipassionate entrepreneur with humble beginnings and big dreams not only for The Memory Collective, but also for the other passions in my life. I grew up in a little historical town called Irvington east of Indianapolis, and now I work out of my century-old childhood home with my husband, two cats, and new doggo. When I am not developing The Memory Collective, I’m working on my fantasy fiction series, singing, playing guitar, performing on my hand pans as Lotus Paradigm, taking lots of photos and videos (mostly of my animals and of cool nature things), working out and getting fit, hiking and (once upon a time) traveling, studying mindset, teaching music and music theory, learning something new, being as active as I can be fighting for important movements that better the country and the planet, and trying to be a better version of myself every day. I was a two-time state champion with the Marching Woodmen of Greenwood High School (playing clarinet), and a state champion in winter percussion my senior year in 2008 (playing a lot of different percussion instruments). I have a BS in Music Technology where I studied digital music composition, music theory, and audio recording; and a BS in Media Arts and Science from IUPUI in Indianapolis where I specialized in Photoshop and 3D modeling. I’m a Pacers and Colts fan, and autumn is my absolute favorite time of year.

FOUNDING STORY

WHY I FOUNDED THE MEMORY COLLECTIVE

After people find out what I do for a living, the question I get asked most is, “How did you come up with this idea? What is your background in? History?”

Nope. Not history–though I do love history. My background is the reason, in so many seemingly unrelated ways, I started this company with no money, no business background, and no clue (initially) what I was doing. None of those things mattered because the idea and the potential impact of these services was just too important.

Without getting into the deep details, which I will do in my TMC blog, the short story is that I had an amazing childhood filled with happy, colorful memories. Then, my big brother drowned when I was 12. Not long after, my dad got sick with a rare disease and died a few months after I turned 13. Around that same time, my Aunt Pat, my favorite person, personal hero, and inspiration, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to her spine. Though she lived another nine years (my family is known for their stubbornness), it was nine years of watching her deteriorate and wondering if and when I’d get the call no one wants to get. My paternal grandma, who helped raise me, died when I was 17. I never knew my paternal grandpa, who died long before I was born, and I know virtually nothing about him. I lost my other two grandparents within a year of one another when I was 25 and 26. I won’t even list all the furry four-legged family members I was lucky enough to have in my life for much too brief a time.

I list these lost loved ones because they are the reason I do what I do, and because I hope anyone reading this now believes why a 30-year-old might be obsessed with and actually have deep-rooted authenticity and credibility when it comes to helping others not lose their precious memories. I have one memory left of my brother Brian, who died quite suddenly without any warning. I have many more memories with my dad and my aunt, but I can’t help but wonder how many more I might have if I had been documenting my memories from a much younger age–if the adults in my life had used a service like mine to capture memories of my dad and my aunt so I could know them better as I grew up–and what stories my dad and Aunt Pat might have left me if only a service like mine had existed for them to do so. What things would I know about my grandparents if the generation above me might have used a service like mine to document their lives? Or if only I had recorded the conversations I had with them about their lives so I could share their stories with my future kids.

The point is… these are all people that I love, and many of the memories I had of them are gone. Many people think memory begins to go later in life, but it happens so much sooner than we think.

CONTINUED

MY PERSONAL MISSION

I don’t have kids yet, but if and when I do, I know they will never know their Grandpa Steve (my dad), who would have taught them about science and religion and nature and sports. But they can know him… through the stories I tell about him. He is kept alive in spirit through those memories and stories. Through me. And wouldn’t it be amazing, for both me and my kids, if we had his voice telling stories about his life? We could sit out on the porch swing during a thunderstorm like Dad and I used to, and I could listen to his voice telling me stories about his life–telling my kids about his life. And they could know him, and be inspired by him, just the way I was.

The problem is… I don’t have his voice. Or recordings of his stories. Because my company didn’t exist in 2003 when he died, and no one–not him, or my family, or me–thought to have him record or write things down for me so I’d have them when I was older. It’s a very common problem I hear. “I wish I would have found your service before she died.” “If only I had recorded his stories before Alzheimer’s took hold.” “…before she had the stroke.” “…before the MS.”

So I’m on a personal mission. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you or your loved ones. I don’t want you to wait until it’s too late, or to make assumptions that you have all the time in the world (looking at you, young parents). Because we never know. My dad was a marathon runner–easily the healthiest, fittest person in my family. But I was 13 when I lost him. What if I had been even younger? No one likes to think about these things, but part of my job is to help you recognize and prepare for the worst while expecting the best. Worst case, you die younger than you expect to, but you’ve already taken measures for those young kids of yours, and they can know you and hear your voice and flip through your photos and understand your stances and learn from your experiences. Best case? You capture your memories and keep them, clearly, accurately for the rest of your life, and your kids never have to worry that they’ll lose those memories after you’re gone, and then all the people who come after you can benefit from what you left them.

I know what it feels like to lose people before you think you will, and to have memories of them become diluted, homogenized, or lost entirely. I understand why memories are such a precious commodity. Losing people is hard enough without also losing your memories of them. I want to help others avoid the senseless loss of those treasured memories. I believe my services are powerful and therapeutic, and that they can change lives. And that’s why I founded The Memory Collective.