Podcast #115 Sharing the Stories and Artifacts of Our Lives – Heather Nickerson, Artifcts Founder

What’s the latest way to organize your stuff and plan for where it goes when you are gone? Enjoy my conversation with Heather Nickerson, Founder of Artifcts, who explains: “Artifcts is a new web- and app-based technology to help you capture, preserve and share the history, the stories, the meaning and the value behind all your stuff. And also, plan for what you want to do next with it? Sell, donate, keep in the family, bequeath, record that it’s already gone?”

Why do the stories behind our things matter? Why does having an easy way to *share* these stories matter? What’s the advantage of digitizing all of this? Can we do a better job of “connecting the dots” between generations? Heather and I will be breaking the myth that “no one wants this stuff.” (Hint: they don’t if it’s not easy and if they don’t know the story!)

Learn more here – https://artifcts.com


Diane Hullet: Hi, I’m Diane Hullet and you’re listening to the Best Life, Best Death podcast. And today I’ve got a special guest, Heather Nickerson. Welcome Heather. 

Heather Nickerson: Thank you so much, Diane, for having me this afternoon. I’m super excited to speak with you and to learn more as we go. 

Diane Hullet: Well, I think this is going to be really interesting.

Heather is one of the founders of Artifacts, and we’re going to get into what that is and what it means. But what I first want to say to listeners is, do you have any stuff? Is anybody out there got stuff, you know, because this podcast is kind of all about what do we do with our things on some level? And it’s also so much more.

So when I think of stuff, I always think about, you know, the, the stuff that I know I could get rid of easily, the books I’m not attached to, or the coffee mugs I bought at target or the thing from cost plus, or, you know, Walmart. Shelves things like this that don’t mean so much to me. And then I think about the [00:01:00] stuff that matters to me, but on some level, it really only matters because of the story that comes with it.

Right? So the bracelet from my great grandmother, the pot from my grandfather. The special piece that my other grandmother gave me, and I don’t even think my partner or my kids know the stories behind these things, but they matter to me and the things matter because of their stories. So, okay listeners so that’s kind of what we’re talking about today is stuff.

So let’s let’s let Heather, tell us about artifacts. How, how did you get into this field and what is artifacts. 

Heather Nickerson: Thank you so much, Diane. You teed it up beautifully. We always joke with people. We always say got stuff. And usually the answer is, Oh yes, I’ve got stuff. What am I supposed to do with it? So artifacts is a new technology.

We are web and app based, but we help you capture, [00:02:00] preserve and share the history, the stories, the meaning, and also the value behind all your stuff. And we also let you very easily decide what do you want to do next with it? Do you want to sell, donate, keep in the family, bequeath? Or there’s even an option for too late, enjoy the memory.

I’ve already parted with the object, but it lets you give your family a roadmap for what happens to all your stuff at the end of the day. Because the sad truth is that our stuff is at one point going to outlast us. 

Diane Hullet: That’s so true. And I always feel like, so you can deal with your stuff or if you have children, they can deal with your stuff.

If you don’t have children, it’s probably friends who are going to deal with your stuff and they don’t know what your stuff is. 

Heather Nickerson: Exactly. And that’s exactly what happened to me. My mother she passed away almost seven years ago now, and it was completely unexpected and out of the blue, she was really young and otherwise in great health.[00:03:00] 

And being the eldest and only girl, I got the pleasure of having to be the one that had to go through 6, 000 square feet of stuff and decide, what do we keep? What do we donate? What do we re home? And in some cases, even what is this thing? And why does our mother have it? My two brothers are like over to you.

Good luck with that one. So that’s, that’s, that was my life for nearly seven months. I had to wrestle with what do I do with all this stuff and living in Washington, DC. I can tell you 6, 000 square feet of stuff does not fit into 2, 000 square feet of my current household size. So even if I wanted to keep everything, there is no way I could physically keep my mother’s stuff.

I had like, we had to do something with it. And that going through that process is what led me to develop artifacts. And I thought there had to be a solution out there. There had to be some way to keep track of the story [00:04:00] and the history and the memories along with all that stuff. And I spent years and years researching and I found there’s a lot of companies that you make a photo book or companies to record memories, but no one was tackling the stuff, which in my, in my mind was really the elephant in the room.

We’re surrounded by stuff. We all have stuff. And again, at the end of the day, something has to happen to our stuff. And with me and my mother and my siblings, we all wanted to keep the things that would matter most to her, the things that would tell her story for the next generation. Because at the time, my daughter was just turned five and, you know, can barely remember her grandmother.

And I had no way of knowing, you know, even simple things like jewelry, right? There’s obvious financial value to my mother’s jewelry, but I didn’t know which pieces. Mattered most to her, which pieces she would want my daughter to have. And that, that’s what it hurts. You know, you’re, you’re [00:05:00] deciding, do I keep it?

Do I sell it? Do I donate it? And he just, I wished, you know, I wish, I wish my mother was there to tell me the stories and tell me the history, but she wasn’t because she was our family keeper, she was really the only one that knew that information. So that’s, that’s how we developed artifacts. And that’s what brought us to where we are today.

Diane Hullet: I think that’s so powerful because, you know, you can have this thing in your cabinet this this pair of earrings say, and maybe you just inherently like them so you’re like okay great I like these or I know I want my daughter to have these. And then you might have somewhere you know the story behind it and you know they’re important.

And maybe you don’t like them, or maybe you do like them, or maybe you know that your sister always wanted them. And then there’s all this gray stuff in the middle where you don’t know the story. If it was an important story, maybe you’d keep the thing, but if it’s not, you’re going to let it go. And so I love that you came up with a way to record that.

I mean, I was thinking back, it’s like, I mean, in the 1960s or 70s, [00:06:00] what did people do? They had like a legal pad and they like made a list in each room, I guess. And then columns of designating who it was going to or donating. I mean, you know, it’s not like people didn’t figure this out before. But now with people so spread out and technology so prevalent, you’ve created this platform to make it really easy to record, share, decision make, record what the decision making was, and, and kind of really encapsulate it all in one place.

Heather Nickerson: Yeah. And that’s so true. Like we interviewed hundreds of people before starting artifacts to ask them, Hey, what do you do when you’re planning for end of life, doing your estate plan? Or even sometimes, Hey, if you were the executor and you had to go through a loved one’s estate, what did you do? What helped you?

And integrating people who are planning for end of life. They’re like, well, I’ve got that legal pad and I’ve made a list, or I’ve invited family to put a little sticky note under certain objects, or I use a color coded dot system, and we then started pulling those threads a bit more [00:07:00] and we like talk to other family members in their family and they’re like, well, my cousin claimed the needlepoint couch cushion that I really wanted.

And you start seeing how there’s all this family strife in some of those solutions. We also spoke with people who say, well, I maintain a spreadsheet on my laptop and it’s password protected. And I love that response. It’s great. I’m so glad you password protected it. Does anyone know it’s there? And does anyone know the password?

And I usually got these looks of like, oh, oh, no, I didn’t think of that. So that in itself was a whole separate conversation and then when talking with folks who were dealing with having to be the executor or having lost a loved one and like, what do you do in that case, again, the pain point was always similar to what I experienced is that they wish they had asked the stories they wish they had, like they captured the history or sometimes I heard, well, my great grandma too.

Hold me the story, but I wasn’t really listening. So that’s again, why we wanted to make artifacts to be so easy where you can write the story. You could add a [00:08:00] video, you could add audio, get grandma telling you her biscuit recipe. You know, don’t, don’t take it for, you know, for what it is. Like get her on audio telling you that.

So you have her voice. And then the other really nice thing about artifacts is that once you have that, once you save the artifact, the photo, video, audio story. You can then share it, which is really nice because in our case, you know, my mother had one grand piano and I can tell you right now it wasn’t going to be me that has that piano because I don’t have space for it.

But my youngest brother, he was the pianist in the family, he was the musician, he was the one that played it, he had memories of my mother that none of us had because he was the youngest by a good 10 years. And they played together, they sang together. So he, when we made the artifact of the piano, we recorded him playing one of the favorite songs that he played with her, which I never knew.

But the beautiful thing is now I can go into my own artifacts collections. I can view that piano, that artifacts. He shared it with [00:09:00] me and I can hear the music. I can see the photos and I can be very thankful in the day. I don’t have that piano sitting in my living room. He does. 

Diane Hullet: Right. So on the one hand, this is an organizing tool, right?

Like at the first level, this is an organizing tool. You could decide I want to organize my stuff in this way. So other people can, you know, take care of it after I’m gone. And on the other hand, it’s an organizing tool for the next generation to say, Hey, mom or dad, or both, let’s organize your things. And then that is useful both in the present moment and after they’re gone, right?

And then I think, you know, what I love about your website too, I think like, I want to tell people, don’t be daunted. Like just take it one step at a time because it is multi layered. Like it’s, it’s got a lot of nuance and you’ve got like your first section, you say, think of this as being about for your own peace of mind and preparedness.[00:10:00] 

And then a second level is supporting others. And I don’t know if we want to launch into that yet, let’s let’s stay on the artifacts piece just a little like, can you give us a full of concrete examples of things people have put in their artifact collection. 

Heather Nickerson: Of course, so I’ll share one of my personal examples first and then I’ll share some others from friends and other members of artifacts that have shared with us.

So on my side, my mother was an amazing cook. She was known for, you know, it’s her love language is really food. And I have all of her old cookbooks and some of her old cooking utensils. And these are because she loved to cook. These are well worn. They are falling apart at the seams. If my daughter had looked at them, I’m not even sure they’d end up in the goodwill pile.

If she was going through my stuff one day, they would probably end up in the trash bin, but they mean. So much to me. They have my mother’s handwriting in them. They have all of her substitutions, all of her notes, even [00:11:00] sometimes like holiday meal planning menus. Like she’s, it was her life or her cookbooks.

So I’ve kept them. I say they’re, they’re my most prized possession. They have absolutely no monetary value whatsoever. But they have tremendous heart value. So I have artifacted her cookbooks and I’ve artifacted her other cooking utensils and tools and I have the story and I’ve included old photos of her either using them or vintage photos of us having family meals all together when I was a kid based on the items she cooked.

But I’ve combined, you know, the photo of the actual the item the cookbook with maybe it’s a Thanksgiving meal from the 1980s. Based on the recipe she made in the cookbook and then the story. So my daughter now knows how to connect these dots. And then I’ve shared that with my siblings, with aunts, with uncles, with others that were a part of my mother’s life.

So they too can have that memory. So that’s one of my examples. 

Diane Hullet: I’m seeing that as almost like a digital scrapbook, right? [00:12:00] Like in that example, it’s really like more than just photos and more than just the handwritten story, but this kind of collection of things that share this really important part of your mother with whoever wants to see that and have that.

And I assume someone could make this a hard copy thing too. Like they could print that out for themselves and be like, here’s the book about her cooking. 

Heather Nickerson: Of course. You can on our site with the click of a button, you can print off a PDF copy and Excel spreadsheet, whatever different format you desire. You can print that off with a click of a button on our site.

So you don’t have to, you know, trust it’s cloud based, it’s fully secured, encrypted. It’s, you can also print and make a grooming binder or a book. It’s really simple. As for what others have artifacted, we have folks who I’m sticking with the cooking theme. We have individuals who artifact all their old family recipes.

It’s kind of their, their keeper of that family knowledge. We have others. We have an artifacts member who’s in her 70s. She’s only ever used our app. She has over 400 [00:13:00] artifacts. And she, her son in law gave the gift to her last year and said, dear mother in law, when you downsize, all your stuff is not coming here.

So get artifacting. And what she does is she artifacts the items for travels around the world. She shares with her daughter and she asks, dear daughter, do you want this item? Now that you know the history and the story, do you want the item? And if the daughter says yes. Great. She notes right in there.

This goes to my daughter and the rest is good. If the daughter says, no, I don’t want the item. She then sells the item and she’s using, she’s saving up the money to do an around the world trip, which has been on her bucket list forever, which we think is so cool. It’s to your earlier point is that organizing she’s going through her stuff right now and deciding what’s going to go to her daughter with input from the daughter and what, what she can sell or donate and then use that money to do something really fun with.

So really, you can, we like to say you can artifact just about anything, people artifact entire collections, they artifact one offs. Some of our most popular [00:14:00] categories are like home goods like china or candle holders or things you find around the holidays like on the tabletop. Old photos, we all know that photos are worth a thousand words but They can’t talk.

So unless or until you take the time to tell the story behind the photo or share the memory or fill in the family history, you just don’t know. So there’s a lot of people. It’s, it’s really wide ranging from what people can artifact or have artifacted. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah, those are all great examples. I think about the generational differences and I’m curious if you have thoughts about this.

Like I look at my own kids who granted are there. They’re not really, you know, they don’t own houses or have apartments really yet. They’re in school, but they, they sometimes make comments like basically they don’t want any of our stuff. Like they’re not interested. And I think, Oh, well, okay. So I’ve collected this collection of whatever in, in my family, there’s kind of a history of ceramics.

Like we love [00:15:00] ceramic pots. So I probably have more ceramic things really than I do like paintings on the wall. Okay. So. What do I do with these pots? If none of them need, you know, my kids don’t want these pots. So it is interesting, the difference between generations. And I wonder, do you see that with people who are in their seventies versus people in their thirties?

Do those children have any interest in the stuff? 

Heather Nickerson: So we have gotten a lot of feedback from our members, and we like to say that we’re debunking the myth that no one wants your stuff. Because our members write into us all the time and say that once they artifact, they say that the story behind that clay pot, like why this clay pot matters when you got it, including a photo of maybe you got it on vacation when you were visiting your relatives in, I don’t know, New Mexico, and you combine the photo, the story, the memory with the details about the ceramic piece.

We’ve heard from members time and again that when they share that artifact that has all those details and all the history together. They have people coming out of the woodwork saying, Hey, wait, you know, [00:16:00] grandma or like, Hey mom, don’t get rid of that just yet. And we actually have one of our members are in, she again, a world traveler.

She’s in her eighties. She had these three brass trays. That she’s had in her house for probably three decades, I believe she said, and she artifact them. And she has three growns up and long story short, the trees came from when she was living in Kathmandu. And there’s a really funny story about her encountering a man with a King Cobra on his shoulder.

While she was carrying a basket of peaches in the market, she threw the peaches in the air and just essentially destroyed his stall, which had the brass trays, because she was so scared of this Cobra. She went back the next day. Bought three brass trays kind of as that, I’m sorry, I destroyed your stall.

And she’s had them ever since her sons all thought they were something she bought at like pure one or home goods and had no interest whatsoever. So she artifacted them, sent them to her sons, included the really funny story actually included audio herself telling the story. And then she told us in her, her note to us that within [00:17:00] hours of sharing that artifact, each son had claimed a tray.

They had no idea the story and the history behind that. And she was, she was giddy. She was like, Oh my gosh, like they’re going to stay in the family. This is so great. And we think it’s so great too, but that’s, that’s the joy of artifacting. When you share the story and share the history, it really is amazing how it bridges that generational divide and people, you know, the younger generation tends to say like, Hey, that’s actually really cool.

Like I do want that. 

Diane Hullet: That is really, that is such a great example because it really is the power of the story behind it. And I think about that. I think about, I have these two Italian platters that are stuck on my wall and I don’t think I know the story of that, you know, and it had to do with buying them at the store that was almost closed.

And then a friend with them under his arm on a bicycle, riding across, you know, I mean, it was, it was this whole long story and they’re probably like, Oh, there are those old ceramic things on the wall, but there’s, there’s a story behind it. It also makes me. Think like if I were to [00:18:00] artifact things in my home, I think I would start with those kinds of things like the, because I tend to get a little overwhelmed.

I don’t know if anybody else does by projects like this, but 

Heather Nickerson: you’re not alone.

Diane Hullet: I think I would just go, okay, I’m going to do the 10 things that have the best stories. And just start there. And if that’s all I ever did, so be it. But I think it would get me going on, on what was really like, it would help me discern what really mattered to share and what really could just go to a thrift shop.


Heather Nickerson: And that’s a great way to approach it. So we have on our advisory board is Matt Paxton. He’s a star of footers and he has his own show on PBS, like a list of Matt Paxton. And he tells all of his families, pick your five items, your five legacy list items, the ones that will tell your story. And start there and you can always the beauty of artifacts.

I’m like a printed book or unlike, you know, because we are digital, you can go back and edit. So it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re writing the story, you’re [00:19:00] concerned about like, Oh my gosh, what do I say? It’s okay. Start with a sentence or two. Don’t make it hard, but, but pick. Five things that tell your story and start there.

And it’s amazing when you have those, those, your first five things done and you shared with family, it’s amazing. The connections that come like the people asking like, Hey, tell me more about this. Or I didn’t know you did that trip. Do you have other artifacts from that trip? Or I didn’t know you, you did that.

Like it’s. It’s really amazing how it then kind of just, it all, I think flows from there and you start connecting the dots and thinking like, Oh, I can part of that this next and that next. And we, we’ve had members who tell us they start with their five, kind of their, their five things that tell their story.

And they say that they very quickly every week, they make it as a goal of adding one more thing. And you think about that. If you do that, if you start with your five things and then do one thing a week, you have over 50 items. That tell your history, your story, and also if you’re using the in the future field where you give your family that [00:20:00] roadmap of what happens next, you’ve now have a collection of over 50 things that your family at one point, day and time in the future, aren’t going to sit and wonder.

What is this? Why do mom or dad have this? And what am I supposed to do with it? 

Diane Hullet: I think that’s great. And, and there’s the value piece too. And I remember, I may have told this story before on the podcast, but like, I have a couple of rugs that are pricey and I think, gosh, my mom knows nothing about rugs.

Like if it were up to her and I died suddenly, and my husband died suddenly, she would just roll up those rugs and put, you know, 50 bucks on a yard sale. No, it’s actually value, mom, even though it’s just, you know, a little entry rug, like it actually is worth some money. Please don’t do that. But she doesn’t, she doesn’t know.

Nobody would know. So yeah, that is a piece of it too. The story, the value, and the, and the intent. 

Heather Nickerson: Yes. And that’s all, those are all the core factors here. Cause that’s what I found with my mother. Like I knew some things had financial value. There were also things like some of her [00:21:00] artwork, when I actually took to an appraiser, I was shocked at what the value of some of those pieces.

So learning from that situation and artifacts, we have a field you can enter in the value. If you know the value, great. Enter in, so your loved ones know, Hey, don’t put this outside for free on the curb. There’s actual monetary value here. If you’re unsure of the value, we also have partnered with Heritage Auctions to give all of our members, our paid members free valuations.

So you can click the what’s it worth button and typically within two to three business weeks. You get a valuation attached back to your artifact. So you now know, you know, that that necklace, it’s not worth just 20 actually worth 2, 000 or the converse, you know, grandpa’s stamp collection. He was a very prolific collector, but he wasn’t that good at it.

And it may have more heart value than financial value, but knowing that value is really important in making decisions. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah. That’s great. [00:22:00] Well, I think all of this is really important for this, this kind of first piece about the things and the stuff and the stories. And like we said, kind of like that’s this for your own peace of mind and preparedness.

And then let’s go ahead and talk about this other section that I think your platform really evolved to also include, which is kind of this for supporting others for supporting ourselves. Talk about that. Yeah. Yeah. 

Heather Nickerson: Yeah. So we. We’re now almost three years old. And we’ve heard over the years from folks saying like, Oh my gosh, I, I’ve had a loss of a loved one.

And we heard time and again, how artifacts was helping them cope with that grief and helping them also support other loved ones. And the way they were doing it is that we realized we don’t talk about this much, but we all, we all have specific memories or even the time stuff that. unites us. And you know, I have certain items that my daughter may have no idea what they are, or [00:23:00] even my husband, but my best friend from high school or best friends from college, they know the stories behind, they had the memories behind, they may have their own items that match them.

So after, after a loss, We have a feature called in remembrance where you can make an artifact and essentially give it in remembrance of a loved one or make it in remembrance of a loved one and keep it. But it’s a great way of sharing the stories that maybe only you know, or the history is that only you’re aware of, or even just kind of those, those funny moments.

And we have one of our members wrote into us he had had his father had passed away and was going through old photos and came across this photo of his father just really, really funny, like in this costume, and he was with his two best friends from college and the member was like, I didn’t know what was going on.

And he reached out to his father’s friends and they very quickly gave him the story and it was a great it was they were all part of a fraternity and there’s this really funny history and story and [00:24:00] down the road and he then he then artifacted that photo with that story he did it in remembrance of his father and then he shared it with the rest of his family who had no idea kind of the history and the memory behind that but now that he shared it His entire family can go back and look at it and be like, Oh, wow.

Like grandpa was, we didn’t know that, but that’s a great story, a great memory. So it really does help when you’re overcome with grief and loss, it can be very stressful. And as time goes on, you try to find ways to, you know, keep the memory, keep the story alive. So we have found that with artifacts, it’s very easy to do that.

And it helps people connect and remember and really celebrate the stories and the histories. 

Diane Hullet: Beautiful. I also, you mentioned on the website, you know, the things that come to us like sympathy cards and, you know, sometimes there’s a story in there. So I think you were saying you can even, you know, make a take a photo of that sympathy [00:25:00] card.

So you’ve got the front you’ve got the inside you’ve captured that maybe there’s details about who this person was to your loved one, the best friend or the second cousin twice removed, but they grew up together. And so you’re kind of capturing that. Beyond just the physical card, it actually allows you to throw the cards away when you’re ready.

And yet still share this more widely than just the one person who has the card in their home. Yeah. 

Heather Nickerson: And it lets you connect the dots too. So you can, in addition to doing all of that, the front of the car, the back of the car, the inside, you can, if the person who gave you the card is willing, call them up and say, dear, so and so.

Absolutely. Tell me a story about my loved ones, or, you know, add a photo of them and your loved one in the same artifact. So you’re putting the pieces together, you’re connecting the dots for the next generation. Because we do, we also do a lot of work with genealogists who are always trying to piece together what happened, you know, generations ago.

So our goals are the artifacts, we are doing things in remembrance. You’re helping that family [00:26:00] history and story live on for future generations. And someone’s not trying to sort through a shoebox of sympathy cards or, you know, even holiday cards or whatever that happens to be. They’re able to easily. You can search and find everything within artifacts and added bonus and maybe you’ve also got audio files or video files or other things attached to your artifact.

So that way it becomes it brings it all to life and it really does give it I think a much more fulsome look at this is the story this is the memory this is the history behind this object or this thing or whatever it happens to be. I think, you know, 

Diane Hullet: I think everything you just said probably answers the question I was just going to ask, but I’m going to like do it in flip order anyway, which was, you know, I was thinking all of this is really about legacy, right?

Or I feel like sometimes people hear that with a capital L, you know, like it’s some kind of really important legacy, but I think of legacy is just what we leave behind. And I think that [00:27:00] legacy projects can be As simple as telling someone a story or something that matters to you. It can be just simply oral or it can be, you know, the old school thing.

My grandmother had a deep love of her dogs and she decided when she was probably in her eighties that she would write. the story of one of her dogs. First, she said it was too much and then I said, well, I’ll help you like just write the story and I’ll help you. I’ll, I’ll type it up for you. So she very carefully hand wrote on a yellow legal pad, the story of her dog’s zip.

And then I typed it up and then I showed her the typewritten copy and you know, she made some changes and so on, but ultimately we did this spiral bound book about zip. You know, and then everyone in the family. And that’s, that’s like, I think of that as being so old school, right? Like it’s not digitized.

It’s just this paper spiral bound copy and, and same kind of thing with recipes. Like I know there are some places where you can go and make kind of a recipe book digitized or other, or collect [00:28:00] recipes. And like one of those old photo books where you slide the recipe in and share it. And what I want to say is, I think there’s something that’s like next level about what you’re doing.

And so, you know, my question to you was going to be why, why digitize? Like, why not just make the spiral bound book or the scrapbook of cards or, you know, what’s the advantage of digitizing some of this? Cause I’m guessing some of my listeners are like, yeah, that sounds like a lot of work and why bother?

Heather Nickerson: That’s a great question. And I used to before starting artifacts, I spent a decade running a private security company and I can tell you right now that mayhem and life they go hand in hand. So you can’t prevent natural disasters fires floods earthquakes. You also can’t prevent things like a water leak in your roof, or your basement.

There are just certain things that Life happens. And when you have that box of cards, I mean, I, I readily admit I still have a box of cards. They [00:29:00] are all artifacted, but there are some I just can’t let go of. But when you have that box or you have that bin of, you know, maybe it’s holiday ornaments or whatever it is that you have.

If you don’t take the time to digitize and connect the story with the object, it makes it much harder to share. So if you make that book of recipes or you make that photo book, you know, I, if I print a copy, that’s great. I have a copy of my table. My siblings, they don’t have a copy. So I either have to print additional copies and mail and ship it to them and then hope that nothing happens to this book in the years to come.

When you digitize, especially using Like a platform like artifacts where we are fully for privacy. First, we don’t sell any of your data. We don’t transacting your data. It’s all yours. You even have the copyright to your information, which is huge when you think about kind of online platforms. It’s again.

It’s all there. You can easily edit anytime you want. So if I wanted to change that recipe, say I found a better way of making my mother’s pancakes, [00:30:00] I can add in that teaspoon of vanilla into the recipe and not have to go back and reprint the recipe book. If I want to share, I can share that recipe.

And then I’ve got 10 more friends or cousins or whoever that happens to be, you can very easily share at no added cost. You can edit with no added cost. You also have the knowledge knowing that it’s, it’s safe, it’s protected, it is digitized. You’re not relying on a single shoe box or a single bin, or you’re not leaving it.

To chance. And that’s probably the biggest, the biggest thing. We, when going through my mother’s stuff, there is some water damage, some of the old papers and old photos. And it wasn’t, she didn’t intentionally like put them in an area where they’d be damaged. It just, it happened when you’re dealing with 6, 000 square feet of stuff.

There’s a lot of space for something to go wrong, which is why we, we thought digitization was really. It is in some ways, I think, the wave of the future. It doesn’t erase the physical stuff by any way, shape, or form. And we [00:31:00] aren’t saying just digitize. If you’re someone who likes to keep your, your box cards, fabulous.

I’m in the same boat, so there’s no harm there. But at least with digitization, it does protect it for the next generation, makes it very easy to ensure this history and stories live on. 

Diane Hullet: Heather, am I remembering that you’re former CIA? 

Heather Nickerson: Yes, I am also. So before I ran a private security firm, I spent nearly a decade in the Central Intelligence Agency analyst, which is why when we build artifacts, privacy is first and foremost.

I spent nearly 20 years of my life helping people protect their information, whether that was the U S government or whether that was private clients. And when we built our company, we believe, firmly believe that privacy is a basic human right. And even though you’re taking time to digitize and put things online, we wanted our platform to be all about you and your data and your privacy.

Which is why everything you do at Artifacts is private by default. You can choose to share if you want to, but we have [00:32:00] members who never share a thing. They make their own collection, they’re perfectly happy with it. But we didn’t want you to feel that you had to share, you had to make things public.

It’s, it’s really you and your memories and your histories and your stories. 

Diane Hullet: I think that’s, I think that’s so great. I just had to slide that in at the end here. That’s such a great part of your backstory. So I’m, I love the name artifacts and it’s complicated, right? Because you had to spell it a little funny because otherwise all these other things come up when you Google artifacts, tell us how to find your website.

Heather Nickerson: Sure. So we are Artifacts, A R T I F C T S dot com. And we also have an app in the Google or the Apple App Store, spelt the same way, A R T I F C T S. And we did this for two very important reasons. One was to ensure that we are able to trademark and patent and copyright and protect our, our intellectual property.

[00:33:00] After Apple became Apple, the U. S. patent office does not look very fondly on companies using real words real common words in their protected names. And then the other, the real reason we did it, aside from the legal. reason is that we say we like to say we’re redefining artifacts. When people first hear of artifacts, they think, well, it’s got to be old or historically relevant or really valuable or be in a museum.

And we always tell people, nope, none of those are true. An artifact is anything that you have a special meaning or a story or a memory about. It doesn’t have to be old. It doesn’t have to be valuable. It doesn’t have to go sit in a museum. It’s, it’s yours. It’s your history, your story. They’re your artifacts, really.

So that’s why we chose the name and why we spelled it the way that we did. I’d like to say we’re redefining artifacts. 

Diane Hullet: That’s great. I love it. Well, Heather and her partner are redefining artifacts in how we hold them and how they go onto this digital platform and get [00:34:00] shared. And I think it’s really exciting.

Another thing that we don’t really have time to touch on, but I’ll just mention is that is these partnerships that you’ve got formed. And I think the partnerships are helpful. Like you said, you mentioned the one auction house, but if you go on the artifacts website, there are several things you can kind of tap into.

To get more information to support your valuing your items and you know, connecting the dots, as you said, connecting the stories. So I think that’s an important piece. Well, I yeah, I thank you so much for your time. Heather. This has been really, really interesting. Thank 

Heather Nickerson: you so much. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and I look forward to future conversations.

Diane Hullet: I can’t wait to see where people take this because I think you know, I think if you’re over 70, think about this for yourself. And if you’re under 70, think about this for someone in your family and yourself. And so there’s a lot of different ways in to think about capturing stories that go with our stuff.

Thanks, Heather. Have a great day. Thank you. You too. You’ve been [00:35:00] listening to the Best Life Best Death podcast, and I’m your host, Diane Hullet. You can find out more about the work I do at Best Life. Best death.com. Thanks for listening.

Diane Hullet

Diane Hullet

End of Life Doula, Podcaster, and founder of Best Life Best Death.