Kara Long spent two hours interviewing her grandmother, Josephine, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy as a 3-year-old child. Her grandmother shared stories from her childhood and memories that her parents passed down from Italy.
“I loved every second of it,” Long said. “I was fascinated the whole time.”
Yet, three years later, when Long was 25, her grandmother died, and along with her, the cherished stories.
“I could tell you in one sentence what I remember from that two-hour conversation,” said Long, an entrepreneur who has since created Irvington-based The Memory Collective to prevent others from losing cherished memories of their loved ones.
Long works with her clients to capture video and/or audio recordings about various aspects of their life, including interesting stories and how the context of family photo albums would otherwise be lost when the last person who remembers the memories dies.
While Long knew the ins and outs of creating this niche business, she was at a loss for the fundamentals of business ownership. She met SCORE Indianapolis mentor Mike Crumbo soon after she launched her business in April 2019.
“She had evaluated the fact that she had the technical expertise to make the business work,” Crumbo said. “She had the beginnings of the business put together.”
Together, they have finetuned various aspects, including pricing for the company’s services, outlining priorities, and devising a do-it-yourself memory collection offering. Crumbo continues to mentor Long, serving as her “sounding board.”
“I’ve sort of been with her since she was starting up the business,” he said. “I know where she came from.”
Crumbo is one of the chapter’s more than 70 volunteers who provide no-cost mentoring services throughout the life of a business.
“SCORE seemed almost too good to be true,” Long said. “Professional help with my business for free?”
Crumbo provided technical support for a “Shark Tank” reminiscent contest that Long won in 2020.
“The contest was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I was so afraid of messing up —losing my place, forgetting a line, not knowing how to answer one of the judges’ questions. But I practiced, and I knew my business inside and out,” she said. “I knew the potential for growth and the difference it could make for families not just here, but all over the world. I ended up nailing the pitch and all of the judges’ questions. When the mission is this big, you do what it takes, even if that means facing your fears.”
Sometimes the biggest challenge now is convincing would-be customers that they in fact have interesting stories that should be preserved. Among them is Long’s mother, who said “I don’t know what I would talk about, and I don’t think I have that many interesting stories.”
Yet, after 12 hours of footage, Long would disagree.
“You get so much of their personality, their beliefs, their history, their experiences, their opinions,” she said. “We’re really trying to capture who this person is, or for future generations, who this person was.”
Long hopes to begin offering workshops in senior citizen communities in an effort to teach the basics of recorded oral storytelling. She also is interested in partnering with nonprofit organizations in memory collection projects in hopes of reaching wider audiences. If interested in organizing a workshop, please email Kara Long at email@example.com.
Since 1964, SCORE has helped 11 million entrepreneurs start or grow a business. SCORE’s 10,000 volunteers provide free mentoring, workshops, and educational services to 1,500+ communities nationwide. With more than 70 members throughout the Indianapolis area, SCORE Indianapolis provides nearly 3,000 mentoring services annually to local small business owners through one-on-one counseling and small business workshops. For more information about starting or operating a small business, or finding a mentor, visit SCORE Indianapolis at score.org/indianapolis.