Artifcts contextualize our lives. The most random of objects can pack in a story to challenge Tolstoy. Normally you probably create and receive, or even view in our public collection, Artifcts from people’s everyday lives – mementos, furnishings, jewelry, collections, letters and photos, and more. Today, we have a special treat – the Artifcts that provide the color to the making not of a single life but of a company: Lantern.
This female founded, venture capital-backed platform exists for these simple truths: death is hard on the living who are left behind, it inspires anxiety and confusion for all, and it leaves so many to wonder how to afford it and whether they’ve done justice to their loved one’s wishes in the end.
It just should not be that hard.
That is why Liz Eddy and Alyssa Ruderman decided back in 2018 to take on the problem through the creation of Lantern, a public benefit corporation that can assist you at any stage of life to pre-plan for the inevitable as well as walk you through the steps of the after-loss process.
THE MAKING OF LANTERN IN JUST 5 ARTIFCTS
Before diving into the five Artifcts that Liz chose to share about the life of Lantern, it’s worth pointing out that this was not her first foray into entrepreneurship or the fields of grief and trauma.
At the age of 15, young Liz, along with two friends with whom she’s still close today, started her first company: Sisters on the Runway. With a curriculum, fundraising toolkit, and other resources behind it, the company provides high school and university students nationwide with the foundation for addressing domestic abuse in their communities. Just think: This company student-led organization has now been running for more than half of Liz’s lifetime!
Artifct #1: The Inception of Lantern
A Photo of My Grandmother
It was the passing of Liz’s grandmother, and the glaring holes she experienced in the post loss process, particularly the legal and financial logistics, that inspired Lantern. If that were not enough, Liz’s grandmother was an entrepreneur herself, dropping out of high school to become a fashion designer and build her company from the ground up, keeping at it until she was in her 90s! “She was powerful,” said Liz. “She didn’t believe in retirement, saying you could slow down but not stop. And never being afraid of starting something new!”
Photo of Liz's grandparents on their wedding day.
Artifct #2: Securing Financial Support
Kite + String Tattoo
Liz and Alyssa each got a tattoo of a kite because they call each other "Kite + String." If Liz is the "big picture, head in the clouds, headfirst into business" kind of partner, it’s Alyssa who is the "thoughtful, stable, grounded" partner. One cannot exist without the other. The co-founders got these small, meaningful tattoos after officially getting Lantern off the ground and with venture capital financial backing. It is a forever reminder to them of how far they've come, how much they can still do, and the unbreakable bond they share.
Kite + String tattoos
Artifct #3: The Building of the Brand
Lantern Illustration by Liza Rusalskaya
A brand can use many means to convey its ethos and mission. All of the site illustrations sprinkled throughout Lantern.co are done by illustrators from around the work in memory of those who they have lost. This illustration is featured on the welcome page of the site and was among many they received while first developing their site. It depicts a powerful combination of beauty and sadness, so much of what we experience in loss. Visitors often tell the founders that they connect deeply with the illustrations.
Lantern Illustration by Liza Rusalskaya.
Artifct #4: Tailwinds from the Sunday New York Times
Lantern Takes Front Page of SundayBusiness
Not all surprises in business are great. And despite what they say, not all press is good press. But when you stroll out one morning from your uncle’s where you are visiting to grab breakfast and a copy of the Sunday NY Times to search excitedly for the tiniest thumbnail mention of your company and are greeted instead with … the front page of the NY Times SundayBusiness section, you’re in the 7th heaven zone of business.
Catching sight of the skull and cross bones with flower, Liz thought, “It can’t be!” But it was. It was a MASSIVE life moment for the Lantern team and company. The piece not only put death front and center, but Lantern’s approach to working with other companies in the space to fill all the critical gaps in end of life and loss. Collaboration instead of competition is in part why Lantern is a public benefit corporation after all!
Sunday New York Times article featuring Lantern.
Artifct #5: No Company is One Person (or Two Cofounders)
A Note from an Employee
It’s one thing if you happen to bump into a former employee and they greet you warmly or even make a point to bustle across a crowded room to say hello. It’s another thing altogether in the craziness of the holidays to sit down and write out a personal note of appreciation and support. This Artifct is about the importance of a happy, caring, supported team to a thriving company. Without, “You rot from the inside,” said Liz. “You can’t move so fast that you lose sight of that.”
Note from one of Lantern's employees.
To learn more about Lantern, visit Lantern.co. We also highly recommend viewing the video about the making of Lantern. A favorite quote of ours from the video, because we can directly relate: “You have to be irrationally obsessed with what you’re doing to accomplish something, … to help you ride through the highs, lows, and challenges.”
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