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Kiwi funeral director Jude Mannion is taking a new approach to funeral planning.

Tired of highly polished wooden coffins that feel “intimidating, impersonal and alienating” Mannion is introducing a new look that she thinks will be very popular – fabric-covered cardboard coffins that offer an “affordable, fun, clean and green” solution. 

Her debut range features Frida Kahlo, Retro Cowgirl, Orient and Master of the Universe prints.

“I walked into the fabric store and said ‘I want fabulous fabrics’, and this is what came up,” she says.

Her two-week-old venture is yet to receive any customers, but positive reactions from friends have given her high hopes. “They come around, touch them and say ‘oh I want this one!’,” she says.

“Coffins are just horrible, and no-one wants to touch them. These ones will make people want to touch them, and it will feel a little less strange.”

But another drawcard is the price. At $950 they are an appealing option when placed next to a $1500 coffin.

The bright coffins make up only a section of Mannion’s Fresh Funerals business, which she started in February 2016, after 20 years working in the corporate world.

After the deaths of her mother, father and sister, Mannion realised these experiences make lasting impressions. “The grief can be overwhelming and people need an easy, accessible solution,” she says.

An increasing demand from the baby-boomer generation for online accessibility prompted her to take her business online.

“I’m having a ball,” she says. “Creating new ideas, like the fabric coffins, makes for a fun journey.”

Mannion has plans for a 3D printed coffin, an iconic Kiwi fabric and new styles to be released every season.


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