A life well-lived culminates in the hereafter. Or as Mark Twain once said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
Some bemoan the depiction of the Latino community in a derogatory light, but Palehearse and Blended Sense are partnering to do something about it. Alex Casas and Allie Garcia, the founders of Pale Hearse and two heart-driven women noticed when looking for stock images, that Spanish-speaking individuals are ethnically pigeonholed. Latino people are portrayed with Sombreros, or as criminals and gang members, not in the multifaceted cultural glory they deserve. The female founders are also in a traditionally male-dominated industry and particularly empathetic to the underrepresented.
Shortly thereafter, they were introduced to Blended Sense and aligned with their values of serving all ethnicities, particularly those who are commonly marginalized. A partnership with the aim to facilitate massive change was born.
In a recent meetup, Albert Baez, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blended Sense said, “For us, it’s like wow, 4-plus million small businesses in the U.S. alone that are all Spanish speaking are not getting quality services in the digital space, and we need to figure out a way to make an impact there. . . and lean on all the work you guys have already done in the translation services space. To [tap into the] community you have built and allow us to come in and now start telling those stories not just of Pale Hearse and the families they serve, but also the providers.”
If you want to know what conquering fear looks like in the here and now, gander no further than these two incredibly heart-driven women, eager to set the world straight and to offer Spanish-speaking families the respect and care they deserve at every stage of life.
Pale Hearse is a woman and Latina-owned death services company based in Austin, Texas with a mission of helping an underserved community plan end-of-life services. Blended Sense has partnered with Pale Hearse, fellow leaders serving all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but also with a particular foresight to create content that depicts Latino communities more accurately, instead of offering stock photos and videos of Spanish-speaking individuals in a derogatory light.
The depth and vibrancy of the Latino culture are apparent in life, but also need to be addressed when those we love pass. Alex Casas and Allie Garcia have enough soul and vision to address a gaping hole in service to Latinos, and Blended Sense couldn’t be more proud to help them bridge this gap. Following is a transcript of the recent meetup between the founders and team members of Blended Sense and Pale Hearse.
Video transcript follows:
Albert Baez: Hello, Hello, How are you guys? Good to see you. Welcome, meet the team
This is Alex and Allie.
Alex Casa and Allie Garcia: Thank you, feels good to be here.
Albert Baez: Please join.
Lindsey Reed: How’d you two meet?
Allie Garcia: We both worked in the same funeral home for quite a few years. And we both grew up in Latina families so death is just something that was always talked about. It was something familiar it wasn’t something we were afraid of, so my art really centered around death and dying for the longest time, and then I needed a career change so I decided to go back to school. I became a funeral director and embalmer and I met my best friend so totally worth it.
Alex Casas: So I was doing all the backend stuff and Allie was doing front end, and then I actually left California and came back pregnant and had to be up front because I couldn’t be in the back with all the chemicals, where she trained me.
Lindsey Reed: Oh cute. So ya’ll really worked in everything.
Allie Garcia: Yea, we did since the beginning.
Albert Baez: Hello, my name is Albert Baez, I’m the President and Cofounder of Blended Sense.
Louis Pratt: And I am Lou Pratt, a content Producer at Blended Sense.
Alex Casas: My name is Alex Casas Chieng and I am one of the Cofounders of Palehearse and ??? (min. 1.20) Partita and also the CEO and a mortuary specialist.
Allie Garcia: I’m Allie Garcia, I am a funeral director and Cofounder of Palehearse and ??? Partita.
Albert Baez: Awesome, well we’re here today because we are entering into a partnership together as Blended Sense and Palehearse. For us, it was so exciting not just because of the opportunity and the space and there is a problem, but it really aligns with what we set out to do. Yes, do we photos, video, audio and copy? Yes, that’s what we deliver to companies today, but the fact is we’re also a technology company and the space of a tech hub like Austin, Texas there’s such a gap around how companies don’t build for communities, like a Spanish speaking community, or any language really as you’ve said.
So for us, it was like, wow, this whole sector, 4-plus million small businesses in the U.S. alone that are all Spanish speaking, and are not getting quality services in the digital space, you know, we need to figure out a way to make an impact there. And lean on all the work that you guys have already done in the translation services space, right? [To utilize] the community that you guys have built in the space and allow us to come in and now start telling those stories by not just Palehearse and the families [they serve], but also the providers [is astounding].
So, why don’t you tell us how you identified the gap in the space, and why did you feel like this was missing? And then how you feel you’re going to solve it?
Alex Casas: We’ve both been in the industry for close to a decade, and we’ve seen families coming in who spoke Spanish only and during a difficult time, already not being able to communicate your needs is one of the hardest things to watch. One of the things that I personally saw first hand was a lot of families coming in with baby loss. And they’re coming in, they’re not comfortable already and they don’t speak our language and then we’re turning them away. That’s not O.K. with us. And to us, even though we’re not fluent in Spanish, we both grew up with Spanish backgrounds, our parents speak Spanish. . . that was something very important to us but we made sure that we would find a way to help these families. Even if was me texting with my Dad before I go into an arrangement, just to be sure that they were not being told “find somewhere else.”
Allie Garcia: Yes, basically that, Alex said it perfectly. We just find authentic representation to be so important in our community. You want to see someone that looks like you and understands you and can get the culture and feel like you’re part of the family. And when we were looking for stock images, they were mostly negative stereotypes which is pretty hurtful to think we’re just a sombrero or that we’re criminals, and that’s when we knew. We have to find something else, we have to find another way to go into the community and get those images, and that’s why we turned to you all. We knew that you know how to get those images, and we know that representation and authenticity is important to you all too . . . so it just felt Kismet, I guess, like this was supposed to be. So yea, we’re just really excited to work on those kinds of things with you so we can help more people.
Albert Baez: The amount of creators we’re going to need to service this industry is going to be freaking awesome. . .to build and to grow community around them as well, because they’re gonna be the ones telling those stories, so . . .
Alex Casas: It’s a whole ecosystem coming together and really showcasing community. To us. . . .
Albert Baez: It gives me goosebumps.
Alex Casas: YES! It’s kind of like, it reminds me of when you walk into a mercado. Growing up in El Paso, I remember walking into Juarez Mercado and you see all these different little shops, all these different people that are making up this one beautiful place, and I think that’s kind of what I see this as, just this community coming together and supporting one another and building this beautiful foundation to just grow from.
Allie Garcia: It feels like home.
Alex Casas: Yea, it feels like home.
Allie Garcia: So obviously our main goal is to be sure people know that talking about death won’t kill you. It’s one of our favorite phrases in the industry. And talking about things and getting yourself prepared, and also telling your family what you need ahead of time is a really great way to still support them when you’re no longer there. I know my family and I talk about what we want to have done and it really helps me because I know when my Mom is gone, she’ll have already made those decisions for me, so when I come into that arrangement conference, we’ve had these conversations and it’s like she’s kind of there with us. So we really want to help people feel comforted with us, to feel like we’re a family that can do that for you and with you. Like ALex said, empowering people so they’re not afraid of the inevitable is one of our main goals and we really do that by trying to unify the best in end of life care so families can really find the support they need at a glance.
Louis Pratt: The preparedness that we were speaking on resonates with me very much because no matter how long things might be happening to you and your family or the ones you love, or how long you have to prepare for it, you’re almost never as prepared as you need to be or the timing is just not what you expected, so just to be able to help build that type of community and help support that with the concept we’re creating will be not only valuable to everyone, but for me something that is very personally fulfilling for my own values.
Albert Baez: Absolutely.
Alex Casas: Everybody has a bunch of different traditions that can really feed from one another. So to be able to capture those different stories, and the similarities and bring us all closer together and help us understand the differences, and celebrate those differences. . . I’m excited to see that happen between all of us because I think you guys do such a great job of telling the story - the real story, the kind of Hallmark story that touches your heart that’s real and I think that’s what’s missing in death care. I think that’s something we’re excited to see, and bring new fresh ideas, rather than the same shared, regurgitated content.
Louis Pratt: Yea the echo chamber.
Abigail Baez: The other question I had for you guys is, obviously you’re young Latina women. Where does that fall in the industry? Is it. . .I guess I have a preconceived notion that it would be run by a lot of older men.
Allie Garcia: When I went to school for mortuary science it was mostly women, so women are coming back into the industry. We know historically, it was usually placed on women to care for the dead, things happen, embalming became really big with, I think Lincoln’s body being taken around the nation and so embalming became really big and became a trade for men. So it became male dominated for a really long time, but honestly right now they’re kind of being phased out of the industry due to their age, and so a lot of young women are coming back in. So it’s really great to be in a community full of women. I really didn’t expect that. And even on our social media and everything online, we mostly work with other women in the industry. It’s really incredible to see this like huge growth spurt.
Abigail Rose: I’m just excited for you guys. Excited for what’s next.
Alex Casas: Honestly, I think that’s one of the best things too is finding companies that align with us but then seeing women, seeing people of color, like it’s incredible, because it’s the proof . . . we’re doing it. That’s something that we definitely have tried to push and just uplift other people because that in itself is a huge accomplishment.
Lindsey Reed: Stronger together.