TOMÉ—A new business — Serenity Stone — popped up along N.M. 47 in Tomé after relocating there from Albuquerque earlier this year.
Serenity Stone is the only self-contained, full-service monument company in the state, meaning they do everything.
The business owners, Adam and Tiffany Edwards, work together to craft everything from small gravestones to war memorials for retail customers. They sell directly to the consumer instead of to funeral homes, which buy in bulk and can make up a company’s entire clientele.
“I’ve been making headstones for about 31 years now,” Adam Edwards said. “For many of those years, I just did private stuff, a lot of the high-end custom stuff. It did pretty well when I was younger. You could make a living just doing commissioned pieces.”
Edwards made the move to a more retail setup after seeing how funeral homes were up charging on relatively inexpensive markers, which helped him realize there was a market for it that would be suitable to help him take care of his family.
“People needed more options,” he said. “So I decided to kind of go retail and start selling to the public.”
Adam, whose father was a stone sculptor, has been crafting headstones since he was a teenager. It was then when he volunteered to make one for a family friend who had passed, whose family didn’t have much money.
“I happened into doing this on accident, actually,” Edwards said. “A friend of the family, who was always really good to me passed away. I asked my dad if I could make him a headstone, and I ended up making him this gigantic headstone.
“I knew nothing about headstones. Everything I knew I learned from the encyclopedia. It was a huge piece of rock, took me 16 weeks because I was doing it with saws and chisels and looking at this book.”
He carved the entire headstone out in one piece, not realizing the example he was following was four pieces, which meant it was too large to move. It sat where he had sculpted it for four years.
The process of carving a headstone is done through sandblasting, which Edwards does in booths he’s constructed in his shop. He handles the big projects, while Tiffany takes care of the smaller ones, which Adam admits he doesn’t have the patience for.
The sandblasting process they use to produce their monuments allows them to create photo-quality images on stones. Each design starts as a template, which is applied to the stone. It’s then taken out to one of the sandblasting booths, where they turn the design into a reality.
Adam said the company has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was a period when he wasn’t certain the business would survive. Now, those fears are in the past, which he credits to the loyalty of their customer base.
“All of our customers, when we were in Albuquerque, didn’t come from Albuquerque,” Edwards said. “They would come from Algodones north, Isleta south, out towards Grants or Gallup. We weren’t really worried about losing business; all of our customers that come from out west are happier to come this way.”
Relocating out of Albuquerque was always something the two planned on doing, preferring a more rural location, something they both grew up with.
Adam searched from the Santa Fe area down to Belen for the right property, and when the location in Tomé became available, it was the perfect fit for both the business and the family. The location put them in familiar territory, especially for Tiffany, who grew up in Peralta.
The move was completed in June, and has given them a location they will be able to grow into. Adam hopes it will become a hub for the future expansion he has in mind for the company.
“By the end of next year, I would like to have retail locations in El Paso, Amarillo, somewhere in the Santa Fe area and possibly in Gallup,” Edwards said. “This location would be our base for all of that; we’d keep all of the production here, locally.”
Currently, the couple lives on site above the warehouse, but they have long-term plans to build a house on the property for their family, and are already big fans of the area.
“The difference between the way people are down here and the way they are in Albuquerque is stark,” Adam said. “We’re enjoying it.”