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Meet Catherine Hinz of Beyond Words Co.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Hinz.

Hi Catherine, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
For over ten years, I worked as a healthcare leader in patient safety. I arrived at work each day to review medical error reports and lead teams to investigate and learn what had gone wrong. I then put safeguards into place that would prevent those same adverse events from happening again. Working in a profession of solving for when “things went wrong” provided ironic foreshadowing when my personal life went awry.

In May of 2016, my world turned upside down in an instant. With my sixth-month-old on my lap, I learned that my husband was living a second life that deeply betrayed our family. My plans for the future came to a screeching halt. I spent the following days, weeks, and months leaning on family, attending support group meetings, and seeking help with a therapist. It wasn’t long before I was going through a divorce and learning how to be both a new and single mom.

Driving home from a support group, I reflected on the stories of those sitting in the circle that night. All grief experiences were unique, yet there was one striking commonality — our grief felt lonely. It was a second blow that the hardest time of life also felt the loneliest. Those early weeks were blurry, but I vividly recall what it felt like when someone reached out, if even to simply acknowledge what I was going through. It was an emotional boost that signaled I was in fact, not alone. Through grief’s fog, it was crystal clear that what helped the most was feeling the care and compassion of others.

I spent weeks contemplating better ways to walk alongside others through grief and loss–beyond the traditional greeting cards and flowers. I kept asking, “how might support and comfort through grief be beautiful and practical?” I was committed to create both emotional and tangible support to loved ones struggling through the hard, long days of grief.

I started noticing the things I needed to get through one day at a time. What helped get me to sleep? What got me out of bed? What was appetizing, or not? I realized it came down to the basics of rest, nourishment, and moments of hope to keep moving forward. I wanted to package up those things!

Beyond Words Co., care packages started to come to life on my dining room table. I intentionally designed gifts that provided those basics and inspired small moments of hope and comfort. My mission from the start was clear, “ensure no one feels along through life’s hardest times.

Beyond Words Co. launched in the summer of 2018, and for nearly four years, we have been shipping care packages from coast to coast, bringing comfort to those going through their darkest times.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think most people would say that starting a business during a traumatic personal crisis is not ideal. I don’t talk about it a lot, but starting Beyond Words Co. quite literally saved me. It gave me a goal during my own grief process. It provided a creative outlet and allowed for new personal connections. I was, and am still constantly problem-solving, which I love and it comes natural to me. As cliché as it might sound, I was creating a gift company, but it truly was a gift I gave to myself during that time. My biggest challenge in the beginning was managing all that I was personally going through with the divorce and being a new mother, but I was also getting my footing in a new job, and trying to get the business off the ground. It was a lot. However, once the dust settled more in my personal life, building a business alongside full-time job is exhausting. I made career changes that allowed me to dedicate more time and energy to Beyond Words Co., but those decisions were significant and stressful along the way.

We’ve been impressed with Beyond Words Co., but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Beyond Words Co. care packages provide a unique solution when an individual or organization seeks a way to support someone through a difficult time, but doesn’t initially know what to say or do. It is difficult to know how to support someone through grief and hardship. In our culture, grief is tied most closely to death and often overlooks grief spurred by a broad range of life events including new and worsening medical diagnoses, illness, relationship challenges, infertility and pregnancy loss, job loss, and even now the effects of the global pandemic among others. We want to provide support through the range of experiences of grief and loss.

Our society often pushes aside the complexities of the grieving process and holds unrealistic expectations to “get over” grief quickly. Subsequently, silence often stands in place of what should be meaningful support. The consequence is a grieving person who already feels alone is more isolated in their grief experience.

Beyond Words Co. is driven to change that experience as our mission is to ensure no one feels alone through life’s hardest moments. Our care packages are a powerful way to provide support and comfort. They are first designed with practicality in mind and with attention to small details. We include items that help support basic needs of nourishment and rest. Additionally, we include items of comfort for mind, body, and spirit.

This product selection is important to address needs that often fall to the wayside during times of grief and loss. In addition to practicality of support through grief, our care packages serve to open a door of conversation to check in on others during hard times.

When our care package arrives, the grieving individual immediately knows someone cares for them. An alternative to the often-obligatory floral arrangement, our care packages are a meaningful and longer-lasting alternative that uniquely demonstrate empathy and thoughtfulness. We think it is time to think outside the bouquet.

In terms of connection to our customers, we are incredibly proud of the amount of unsolicited, positive feedback we receive on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. Engagement with our customers for custom designs is very personalized and high-touch. We often receive texts and emails from our customers about the powerful impact the care package had. For example, a care package recipient who had lost her baby at 5-days old after a normal pregnancy course, wanted to meet for coffee to share how much the care package touched her. She stated out of the numerous gifts she received, none actually gifted quiet moments for herself to heal in the way that ours did. Some recipients even keep in touch about their personal healing processes as they order more care packages for others, while others send screenshots of the grateful responses they get from recipients.

We highly value and fiercely protect the incredible trust and report we have with our customers and recipients to be alongside them during extremely emotional and high-stress times in their lives. We believe this to be a significant differentiator for us as we continue to more intentionally build-out our heartfelt processes for customer and recipient interactions.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
It’s simple but powerful: show up for grief.

Pricing:

  • Basic pre-designed care packages are $58
  • Beyond pre-designed care packages are $98
  • Custom-designed care packages start at $50
  • Just a Little Something care packages are $30

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