The year is 1961. The Soviet Union has just successfully put Yuri Gagarin into space—and brought him home again. The Soviets are winning the space race. President John F. Kennedy immediately begins exploring ideas to re-take the lead, settling on reaching the moon. George Bundy, national security advisor, tells Kennedy, “Going to the moon, it’s a grandstand ploy.”
To which Kennedy replies, “You don’t run for president in your forties if you don’t have moxie.”
On May 25th, before a joint session of Congress, President Kennedy announces the goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
Meet Madeline Lyles and Dana Taylor, two funeral directors who are also shooting for the moon, and definitely have more than a bit of moxie. Given their robust social media presence, most readers are likely already familiar with the entrepreneurial duo, their colorful photos of their business and snappy educational videos promoting Frigid Products. If not, I’ll introduce you: Lyles and Taylor hold the distinction of opening the first all-female owned and operated funeral establishment in Memphis, Tennessee, After Life Mortuary Services. #womenentrepreneurs
Lyles and Taylor met in 2009 as autopsy technicians working at the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, a facility that covers fifteen counties in Tennessee and handles thousands of cases each year. Taylor left after a couple of years, but Lyles stayed another five. At the end of 2016, Lyles decided to go into business for herself as a trade embalmer, “And the Lord told me to go get Dana.” She did, and when the duo reviewed their business plan it made more sense to them to open a full service funeral home rather than a trade embalming service. At the time Lyles was a trade embalmer for twelve different funeral establishments in Tennessee and Arkansas. “We didn’t like the disconnect between families and funeral homes,” she says, speaking to what she perceived to be a lack of public education on funeral service. “We wanted to re-establish trust.”
The name for their business came from Lyles reading the Bible. A passage from Matthew 19:21 jumped out at her, where Jesus instructs his followers to sell what they have and give it to the poor, in biblical terms: alms. This spoke to Lyles as they envisioned a company providing for those in need. ALMS, or After Life Mortuary Service was founded on October 8, 2018.
The remainder of this article is reserved for subscribers only
In addition to receiving all of our quarterly magazines by mail, subscribers to Southern Calls have exclusive access to additional online articles, as well as ability to read all Southern Calls magazine articles as they come available.
Get your One Year or Two Year subscription today, or login here to continue viewing the rest of the article.