By Rhiane Kirkby
Memories are important to us all, but there comes a time in everyone’s life when they mean more than ever. “Losing my mum at such a young age didn’t really affect me,” says Marie, co-founder of West London memory business Meminio. “I had no memory of life with mum and so didn’t really suffer a loss. That was until I became a parent myself. It was only then that I realised how hard it must have been for my mum to know she would never see me or my sister grow up.”
When Marie’s Nan died, several years later, she found a vintage suitcase—brown leather, hand-stitched—and thought it would be the perfect place to store her daughter’s precious keepsakes. “The idea was good,” says Marie, “but although the case was special, in reality it was tatty and smelly and not an ideal treasure chest at all!” But it did spark an idea in Marie’s mind and she came up with a plan to make one of her own.
Her first task was to recruit a business partner, and although her friend Alison was initially “overwhelmed” at the thought of working together, she was really keen to get on board. She thought the idea of a modern memory box was marketable and they started making plans. These plans, however, soon ground to a halt with “a punch to the stomach—ouch!” Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she was rushed into life-changing surgery. “During my convalescence,” explains Alison, “I had plenty of time to think. First came the ‘thank goodness’, as unlike many other lovely, happy and seemingly healthy women I had and will survive this. But with that came the realisation that lots of people don’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my family. How could life be so cruel to others when it has actually been kind to me?”
That was when Alison, like Marie, decided they had to make something positive come of this—“a special case for my kids, to know they were loved by me beyond words, started to feel even more significant. If my diagnosis had been different, I would have felt a huge amount of comfort knowing they would have all these glimpses of their lives that had been chosen and touched by me.”
With steely determination the pair then began to find a manufacturer for their product, something that was harder than they’d ever imagined as no one could replicate the idea they had in mind. Eventually, after much searching, the leather-bound memory case was born. The cases, which come in two sizes in grey and duck-egg blue, are lined with a printed fabric and have compartments for everything from the first pregnancy scan and lock of hair to school reports, class photos and treasured artworks.
Marie and Alison’s business, Meminio (which means ‘remember’ in Latin) is going from strength to strength, with orders coming from across the world, but they have no plans to stop there. “We have loads of ideas in the pipeline,” says Marie with a glint in her eye. “We’re making a wedding memory case and one that looks a bit more babyish and we’re determined to expand our range further. Our ultimate aim is to get into Harrods and Selfridges.” Something which, having met this pair, I’m sure they’ll achieve. For now, though, they’re relishing working together and think they make a pretty good partnership, “when one of us is having a wobble or a lull, the other one is there to pick them up.” And they’re thriving on the many feel-good stories they receive from families who are using their cases as a way to ‘remember when….’
For more information visit: meminio.com