Ngaio Davis founded the micro-funeral home of Classic Cremation & Funeral Services Inc., which later became known as KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony™. The doors opened in November of 2014. By early January of 2015, Ngaio had her very first clients.
Although she’s been growing the business as a solopreneur all this time, Ngaio hasn’t looked back since. She has been constantly been looking forward. Thinking about growth, nurturing the relationships, and creating a legacy for earth-friendly, community-inspired deathcare services.
In the Fall of 2020, Ngaio realized that partnering with someone else to share the dream with was the best way forward for KORU and herself, and especially for the community of clients.
The stars were aligned because Ngaio found the exact person she was looking for in a short period.
A charismatic, value-driven, intelligent, hardworking, down-to-earth and fully licensed female funeral director, Emily Bootle.
Below is the conversation between iris, KORU’s community engagement coordinator and Emily.
Before starting your partnership with Ngaio at KORU, you worked in various roles and positions with a corporate-owned funeral home. What would you say are the main differences between KORU and corporate or private-owned funeral homes in the Lower Mainland?
There are so many differences! Where to start?
KORU is different from other funeral service providers in many ways. First, it is a business owned by an independent and ambitious woman. I am part of a sustainability-driven team, and I am empowered to take an educator and advocate role. All of these pieces were rare or non-existent in my prior experience in death care.
Also, in many large cities, including the Lower Mainland, it is common to have your office in one spot and your morgue at a completely different address. One of Ngaio’s big projects, when I arrived, was the major renovation at KORU to create a comfortable environment for the family of the deceased to bathe and dress their dead if that’s what feels right to them. That entails having on-site refrigeration to shelter the deceased and newly-renovated Gathering Room. We are almost ready to cut the ribbon and can’t wait to bring our community in to see.
One other quality that sets KORU apart from others is its approach to death care. Being at KORU means being part of a death care practice, and being a practice instead of a funeral home means that we are intentionally striking out a different path.
I imagine the circle of funeral directors and workers is not that big. How did you come to know Ngaio and KORU?
Because of exactly that reason! My search for “greener” funeral companies in Vancouver (or BC… Or Canada) always brings me back to KORU. I can’t fathom how many times I returned to the site to comb through it to see what Ngaio and her community were doing. One day in late 2018, I reached out for her opinion on a Home Funeral course I’d signed up for, and we ended up meeting in person. Fast forward a couple of years later, and here we are.
When Ngaio started conversations with you about the possibility of a partnership, what was that like? What was going through your mind?
It was a bit of serendipity. My stint at the company I was working at was coming to its natural end, and I needed somewhere to hang my license. (A funeral director in BC is considered licensed only if your name is on a wall.) I reached out to Ngaio to ask if she might consider having me on KORU’s wall, and she came back asking what my plan was. From there, we got to know each other better and discovered real possibilities in teaming up.
It is quite a commitment to partner with someone, whether in the professional or personal realm. What made you decide to say yes to Ngaio’s invitation for a partnership?
Ngaio has been consistently and visibly pushing for change in this very traditional industry. It is hard to find many folks flexing (or breaking) the mould in the death care world. To have the opportunity to work with someone who has such diverse and incredible experience is a true gift. When Ngaio came back asking if I would consider approaching this type of agreement, it was a shooting star moment for me.
What unique qualities and perspectives are you bringing with you into KORU?
I am very purpose-driven and see death care work as my life’s work. I feel like I meant to be doing this with my earthly experience.
My work experience ranges from working in anything from start-ups to large corporate structures. It has helped me understand the greater context that KORU operates in and see where we fit and how we can grow.
What are your hopes and dreams moving forward?
Ngaio and I both have big hopes for our advocacy in death care. In the next five years, I’d like to see Alkaline Hydrolysis made available to British Columbians as an option, and ideally, Natural Organic Reduction too.
On a more personal note, I hope to spend a lot of time with my own family and dear ones. Working around death is a great reminder that our time here is limited and to ensure that we spend it with meaning. I hope that soon I will be dancing at concerts, travelling to visit friends, and seeing our communities mend.
On a KORU note, I can’t wait to see what we do! I am over the moon to start working in our beautiful little bathing room. In the long term, I cannot wait to see what Ngaio and I can accomplish as we grow and nurture a community-minded death care practice.
What message would you like to say to KORU’s community of clients, friends and supporters?
I am so excited to meet you!
Here at KORU, Ngaio and Emily's deepest desire is to be of service. Your call can be the beginning of a conversation or a pure inquiry. Feel free to contact us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (604-324-8285). Having a conversation involves no fees nor does it oblige you to hire us.
Photo Credit: Jessica Jacobson Photography