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Making Headstones for Pets was Just a Hobby for This 55-Year-Old; Here's how he Monetized it

Already skilled in working with concrete and stone, Melton began crafting and selling headstones for pet memorials on Etsy
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

In March 2021,55-year-old Melton, a maintenance lead at Mars Pet Care, embarked on a unique journey that turned his hobby into a lucrative side hustle. Already skilled in working with concrete and stone, Melton began crafting and selling headstones for pet memorials on Etsy, out of his self-built workshop in Alma, Arkansas.

He made an initial investment of $15,000 in an engraver that he already owned, and dedicated two to three days to set the headstones in molds, followed by five hours for engraving, as his wife provided the epoxy filling. As demand surged, he reinvested earnings and savings to buy additional tools like a sandblaster, granite saw, chisel, and laser engraver. These acquisitions significantly reduced production time, and Melton was able to scale up his business at a quicker pace.

By May 2022, Melton's Etsy shop was bringing in nearly $20,000 monthly, and this allowed him to quit his full-time job and opt for a more flexible schedule. With strategic investments and the addition of better equipment, Melton's operation, now a family business with his daughter and daughter-in-law on board, raked in over $207,000 in the previous year. About two-thirds of this is estimated profit, and Melton is confident about further success.

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A post shared by Melton Pet Memorials (@meltonpetmemorials)


According to Melton, replicating his success is within reach for anyone with a passion for the craft, and an initial investment of $10,000 or less for cement molds and sandblast equipment. His journey began as a therapeutic outlet, creating memorial pieces like concrete crosses and 3D roses following the passing of his mother in 2020. The loss of a friend's dog, Molly, further directed him towards making pet memorials, aligning his passion with an untapped market opportunity.

Melton emphasizes the importance of involving family members in the business. While acknowledging potential clashes for those with assertive personalities, he says letting everyone play a role has facilitated the smooth operation of his venture. Regular brainstorming sessions with his wife and daughter often lead to innovative ideas, such as a concrete mold shaped like a dog bone that proved highly successful. Delegating responsibilities, especially to his daughter Kristen, has streamlined operations and enhanced productivity.


Transitioning to creating pet memorials full-time has allowed Melton to set aside more time for personal life. Operating just 75 feet from his back door, he, along with his wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law, works about five hours a day. This has not only allowed Melton to spend more time with his family but has also provided employment opportunities for his daughter and daughter-in-law.

The business, in turn, has become a source of supplemental income for his daughter-in-law, who now works from home, avoiding daycare costs.

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A post shared by Melton Pet Memorials (@meltonpetmemorials)


Melton's newfound flexibility and success have opened doors to potential expansion. While content with the current scale of the operation, he is exploring collaborations with local monument companies to update shared headstones in cemeteries. This strategic move could mark the next phase of growth for Melton's backyard enterprise, showcasing the adaptability and potential for expansion inherent in his unique business model.