Donna Roche – Orchid Memories

Donna Roche of Orchid Memories

This week on WHITEBALLOON INSIGHTS we speak to Donna Roche about how both her professional and life experiences led to the creation of Orchid Memories.

Q: Orchid Memories specialises in creating beautiful stationery and printed materials for funerals.  We would love to hear about why you created Orchid Memories, with its focus on funeral stationery. 

Having worked in the print and graphics industry for over 25 years producing various printed matter, I was suddenly presented with the task of producing a funeral order of service booklet for one of my former work colleagues and friends ‘Sue’ after she sadly passed away.

Free design reigns were given to me by her family so I decided to stay away from the more basic traditional standard funeral order of service layout and started to create artwork unique to Sue’s character.

I myself attended Sue’s funeral ceremony and was completely overwhelmed with the feedback I received from the other guests who had also received a copy of her custom designed funeral booklet.

I was very humbled to be able to do this for Sue and her family, so a few months later I decided to start a  small side line business producing custom designed order of service booklets. I created some samples and off I went delivering them to local funeral directors.

One of the companies I had given examples to started to send their clients direct to me and I genuinely loved interacting with the families and using my design skills to produce a little something special so the guests could take a small keepsake home with them after the service.

Every family I produced booklets for praised me for what I had created and I received so many positive compliments.

During the running of Orchid Memories as a side line business I was still at my full time employment with a digital print and plastic card manufacturer where I fulfilled various roles including designing, pre-press, press operating, client services, exhibition event organising and finally operations management.

The changing point for me to go solo and launch Orchid Memories to a full time business was after a cancer diagnosis in November 2019. I had almost a year off work to undergo treatment for cervical cancer (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, internal brachytherapy). I then developed sepsis which lead to kidney failure. The whole ordeal was the worst experience I have ever faced and thankfully I got the all clear in June 2020, but going through something like that definitely changes your perspective on life.

After my recovery process, the whole of my ordeal just hit me and I started to look at life in a very different light. I needed to move on and find fulfilment elsewhere.

It took courage to make a difficult decision to resign from my job of 25 years, especially after investing a significant amount of time and effort with my previous employer. But I had to chose to prioritise my own happiness and fulfilment by pursuing something I am passionate about.

So here I am today, Owner and Creative Director of my own Company …‘Orchid Memories’

If anyone would like to know more about my story, follow this link to the ‘About Me’ section on the website detailing in length about my personal journey.

Q: You have a wide range of designs and styles. Do you find that people want something that is really unique to their special person, and how do you help them choose and create this? 

I think once families understand what we can do for them they really come around to the idea of having something unique and personal created for the farewell ceremony.

We like to interact with families and we always ask them to inform us about what resonated with their loved one’s the most, based on their answers we can then start to build a picture and get creative with a reflective design.

We try to involve the families as much as possible in the design and creation as it can make them feel more connected to the process and we encourage them to add photos, meaningful quotes and other elements, once they get an idea that we are offering a lot more then your basic black on white design, they tend to start becoming quite impressed.

We have access to 1000’s of images in our own stock libraries to use for creation, or some families choose to supply their own photos of which we can use as page fades in the background, this can really add an extra personal touch.

In the past we have produced designs using actual photos of individuals own gardens, a favourite holiday destination, group family photos, wedding day images and even pictures of the family dog.

We are focused on providing a thoughtful and caring service and our motto is .. “Together Let’s Create A Beautiful Memory”

Q: Are you seeing a change in the type of funeral stationery and printed memorial items that people are ordering? 

Our printed product range has certainly expanded over the last couple of years, we have gone from just producing Order of Service booklets to introducing photo boards, memory cards, memory bookmarks, thank you cards, announcement cards, share a memory cards and plantable seeded memory cards.

Personalised funeral stationery is definitely catching on and becoming more popular nowadays.

A funeral ceremony although an extremely sad occasion should also be a celebration of a life, and I think it’s important to have the stationery for the ceremony personal and perfect, it should act as a nice keepsake for guests to take away after the event.

Q: Do people need to be digitally literate to create stationery on Orchid Memories?  I think we all occasionally panic when confronted by unfamiliar or new technology. 

Our clients do not need to be digitally literate in the slightest as here at Orchid Memories we assist them every step of the way. They have their very own personal service coordinator who will create the custom designed artwork for them with photo editing and digital proofs.

We are committed to making the process as easy as possible during an emotional time for families or busy times for funeral directors and will take the burden to create something beautiful, personal and meaningful.

We do not produce templates and are not web to print based, we’re still very much old school so will communicate and liaise on a one to one personal level with everyone, whether that’s over the phone, email, whatsApp or if local to us our clients are more then welcome to pop in the office for a cup of tea and a chat.

No stone is left unturned and if we think something may of been forgotten to be included in the order of service booklet or feel there is space for an extra photograph or a poem etc … we will always let our clients know our thoughts.

Organising local and nationwide courier deliveries along with collections is also taken care of by us, to ensure the printing arrives on time for that all important ceremony. We also accept various methods of payment options online, over the phone or in person.

With the amazing reviews our previous clients have left I feel we have gone in the right direction by offering a printing service with a personal caring approach.

Q: What advice would you give people who are bereaved and trying to organise a funeral or memorial service? In your experience, what can help to ease the load? 

I do meet lots of families who are going through a tough and emotional time after losing a loved one, my advice is try not to do everything on your own, lean on friends and family members to help and make sure you take a break to give yourself some time to process your feelings.

A lot of the funeral directors I work alongside offer great assistance and the correct support needed.

The same with our service, we are more than just the ‘printers’ and always assist with a personal and empathetic approach.

There is no one size fit’s all to organising a funeral and it’s essential to do what’s right for you and your loved one, but consider personalising the service with as many meaningful touches as you can. The funeral service is one of the last things you can do for someone and I think this can make the ceremony more comforting and memorable.

Q:  And finally, when you are not emersed in the world of design and print production, how do you like to switch off and relax? 

I’m very much a social bunny so love spending quality time with friends and family, enjoying concerts, musicals and the cinema, lively bars along with exploring different cuisines.

A fun indulgent down time hobby for me is definitely shopping .. (I think I have earned a black belt in this subject!) .. And I go to my local gym quite a bit too, so it’s headphones on and tunes blaring for an hour.

I would say for a relaxing time, a Norfolk weekend getaway is a go to for me as one of my best friends moved there so I quite often visit several times a year where we do kayaking, paddle boarding and coastal walks … and always with a pub lunch along the way.

Thank you Donna for sharing your insights.

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