Man earns $20,000 a month engraving pet headstones

You’ve heard the story before: man starts a start hustle that becomes incredibly successful and ends up quitting his day job as a result.

You’ve heard the story before: man starts a start hustle that becomes incredibly successful and ends up quitting his day job as a result.

This side hustle, however, is quite unique.

It all started in 2018 when Rodney Melton decided to create a pet memorial for a friend who lost their pet. Melton set out to make something to help his friend process their grief. 

Two years later, when Melton’s mother passed away in 2020, he started making memorial pieces including concrete crosses, 3D roses and plaques.

Then, in March 2021, Rodney Melton decided to open an Etsy store and started molding, engraving and selling headstones for pet memorials.

In the process, Melton combined his hobby of working with concrete and stone with his job as a maintenance lead at a pet care store, Mars Pet Care.

Working in his self-built workshop behind his home in Alma, Arkansas, the 55-year-old soon realised this side hustle could turn into something more serious as his revenue started pouring in.

As interest grew, Melton started investing the proceeds into tools, like a sandblaster, granite saw and chisel, and laser engraver to diversify and grow his booming business.

In May 2022, it all came full circle for Melton, as his Etsy shop brought in nearly $20,000, and he left his full-time job.

Hiring his daughter and daughter-in-law, along with his wife who has been there from the start, the business is now fully owned and operated by the Melton family.

And thus, Melton Memorials was born. 

Last year, the four-person operation brought in more than US$207,000 on Etsy.

From working 60-hour weeks at his old pet store job, Melton now works 5-hour days, along with his wife, daughter and daughter-in-law.

That’s quite the career transition.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.


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