BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN – December 14, 2009 – Big Hug LLC announces the launch of its online retail division specializing in high quality remembrance, celebration of life, and memorial gifts to honor a person – or even a pet – who at one time shared a life's journey.

There is a movement in the U.S. toward cremation, scattering-of-ashes ceremonies, and other less traditional funeral services. Consistent with this trend, grief counselors often stress the importance of creating focal points to reflect on. Thus, interest in tangible reminders that can take many forms continues to grow.

Personalized garden stones and plaques, wind chimes and sun catchers, angel figurines, one-of-a-kind cherish boxes, sterling silver bell necklaces, and handcrafted wood heart-shaped pet urns created by an artist known for high-end jewelry boxes and sculptures are a few of the featured items. An early favorite is a custom leather photo pillow that uses an innovative new patented digital imaging process that permanently infuses color, designs and images to leather with a reproduction quality and other characteristics unlike anything ever seen before. This concept comes at a time when we are searching for alternative uses for digital photographs and artistic ways of keeping memories alive. In addition, it combines well with the design industry's trend toward personalized home decor.

"My husband and I have experienced how uplifting it is to give a loving, enduring, and emotionally-connected gift to memorialize a person or a beloved pet. These gifts have often been given in lieu of flower arrangements or sympathy baskets, which are beautiful, but fleeting," said Katie Kiyo, owner of Big Hug LLC.

The origin of the company name? "It came to me in the middle of the night. Big Hug is a popular catch phrase among many of my friends, mainly for social occasions. I feel that it also captures the essence of compassion and caring. A big hug brings physical and emotional support in time of need – because to embrace and to touch is to comfort," Kiyo said.

In addition to emotional support, a big hug has real origins in biology. Recent research from the Swedish University of Agricultural Services indicates that hugging can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, strengthen the immune system, reduce stress, help decrease pain and increase hemoglobin levels.

In the future, Big Hug LLC will expand to include other thoughtful gifts for many other memorable occasions and/or life transitions: birth of a baby, weddings and anniversaries, promotions, birthdays, retirements and graduations, and "just because" gifts. Web address is

Kiyo holds a BA Advertising degree from Michigan State University, with more than 25 years in advertising and marketing, including many years as Detroit Director for TIME magazine, and Detroit Director of Corporate Sales, Meredith Corporation. She and her husband Dwight Diener reside in Boomfield Hills in one of only two owner-occupied private residences on the National Register of Historic Places.

CONTACT Katie Kiyo... 248.594.1560

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