The Stories Behind the Stuff

She told you so many times, but now you’re not sure. Where was Mom when she bought that old rug—you know, the one that was always in the front den? Was it in India? I think she was in college at the time, or maybe she bought it just after she and Dad got married … And where is it now, anyway? Whether it’s a rug or any other of the hundreds of things that adorn your life and give it color and meaning, it can be hard to know what will become of them and the stories that make them so interesting. One reason for this is that we have a “stuff problem”, as evidenced by a multi-billion-dollar storage industry, new professions that help us to declutter and organize, the billions spent on legal probate, and an abundance of TV shows about home organizing, Swedish death cleaning, and the making of legacy lists. Artifcts was built to help us wrap our minds around all that stuff, the stories behind the stuff, and the value that it all holds to us. Because otherwise, stuff is just stuff!

Meet Artifcts

When Artifcts co-founder Heather Nickerson’s mother passed away unexpectedly, Heather was left with a home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, filled with thousands of square feet of stuff with no histories or stories attached. She had no way of telling family heirlooms from decorative trinkets. She had the stuff, but what she really wanted were the stories behind it. With a ‘human media 1.0’ experience and privacy-first mentality, Artifcts was born out of the creativity of its two female founders—former CIA analysts and friends who wanted to unite stories and stuff so that we could all know each other betterand deal with the stuff that, one day, we’ll all leave behind. Solving the “story problem” was easy, but solving the “stuff problem” was decidedly less so. Better, the co-founders decided, to solve both! “We’re redefining artifacts,” said Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin. “An ‘Artifct’ is something meaningful to you. It does not need to be valuable or historically relevant. We think life is incomplete without the Artifcts that tell our stories.”

What’s an Artifct?

Okay, but what is an Artifct, you ask, and what kind of “stuff” does Artifcts, the company, hope that you’ll capture? Well, an Artifct is a digital way of organizing stuff and capturing the meaning behind it. It allows you to combine photos, video, and audio, along with an anecdote and other details, to tell the whole story of an object. That’s not an old pan. It’s a copper salad mold that belonged to my mother, together with the recipe that I remember her always making in it, with the story of me learning to make it with her. And here’s a photo of my great-grandfather playing the harp. I never knew him—he’s just a leaf in the family tree to me—but I know that harp. It’s at my uncle’s house—the house that he grew up in. Someday, the harp will be passed down to one of his grandchildren.
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Want to Give Artifcting a Try?

Artifcts is free for all to try. To create an Artifct, just head to or download the Artifcts app to your phone and create a free account. What you Artifct is up to you. Start easy. Pause where you are, take a look around, and pick the first object you see that has any value to you. Need some ideas? The company offers a regular series of articles and inspirational checklists. “We know that some people first Artifct items of financial value,” said Heather. They even attach appraisal reports and receipts. Others choose to Artifct collection by collection, mixing items of financial and sentimental valueold family photos, heirloom jewelry, travel mementos … Each person’s Artifcting process and collection is unique.” This brings us to a key point about why digital Artifcts collections are fun and easy to work with. They were built for regular people like you and I, not for museum curators. Your Artifcts may come to feel like a personal museum, particularly if you adopt unique categories like “Life Moments” for family heirlooms, photos, and life’s firsts. But on Artifcts, you can easily click to search, sort, download, and share any Artifct with invite-only circles that you create and even to social media. You can also print a QR code to keep with any object you Artifct, ensuring that anyone who comes across it will know it’s been Artifcted and be able to access the story.

Preserving family history and legacy

“It’s fun to share stories as we Artifct,” said Goodwin, “to get to know each other a bit better, to preserve family history and legacy. So many of us wait until it’s too late to do this. The details that really make the moment fade, and sometimes the people we most want to ask for more details are already gone. My own Artifcts are like my personal insurance policy. Through them, my family will always know me.”

The Artifcts platform

The Artifcts platform can even take you beyond stories and memories. You can share your Artifcts to support estate planning—gift your loved ones a “why”!—insurance coverage and claims, and even the onward sale of an item. At the end of the day, the founders of Artifcts hope that your collection will be representative of you and your life and the means to help you sort through and consider what’s next for your “stuff”.     LifeBook Memoirs is a proud partner of Artifcts with whom we share a lot of the same ideology and values. As “Allies in Stuff” we both recognise the importance of looking after all the pieces of emotional treasure you collect throughout your life as well as the importance of providing a source of immediate connection, history, legacy and financial security for your loved ones and future generations of your family.  Written by the LifeBook Memoirs editorial team