Why (and how) I Became an Organizer

Why (and how) I Became an Organizer

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

I am often asked how I became an organizer. It’s not as if I was a particularly neat and orderly person from childhood. I was not in any way like Marie Kondo, who often talks about her organizing projects from the time she was five years old. I was a typical kid with, more often than not, a messy room.

When I moved into an apartment in college, I began to care more about the space I lived in. I felt more ownership and pride in decorating and making the space around me look clean and welcoming. I started reading magazines like Country Living and Real Simple and dreaming about the kind of house I would have one day.

David and I were married in December of 2006, and I moved from Dallas to the house he had purchased earlier that year-becoming “our house”- in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee.

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I transferred to MTSU with a major in Nursing, which turned into a major in Early Childhood Education by the summer of 2007. Praise the Lord- I would not have made a good nurse!

I graduated in December 2009, and opted for a local nannying position as opposed to a teaching job. David and I were hoping to start a family (that’s another story!) and I didn’t want to invest in a job that I would soon leave in order to be a stay-at-home mama.

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As much as I enjoyed being a nanny, I desired a challenge and additional flexibility in my schedule. But what would I do? What was I actually good at? I didn’t want to go into teaching. And even working in retail would not provide the level of flexibility I was looking for. All roads pointed to starting my own business…but what would my business be? I had zero business and marketing classes in college. My Excel skills are incredibly lacking. I was in dire need of some direction. I knew the kind of life I wanted, but no idea on how to get there.

I was in a unique position of being able to choose any kind of work I wanted. David could support the both of us financially, so anything I contributed to our income would be gravy. (I don’t want to boast about that fact, but neither do I want to minimize it, because I am daily grateful for the amazing provider he is.) However, having ALL the options open to you can be incredibly overwhelming. How does a person sort through all of the things you’re interested in? Good at? Worth being paid money for?

Somewhere in the fall of 2010, David recommended that I read the book 48 Days To The Work You Love by Dan Miller. And if I could point to a singular moment that put me on the path to organizing, that would be it. After reading Dan’s book, I was able to whittle down my dream job wish list. I wanted to be a home organizer. Yay! I dreamed up a business name: Simply Home Aid.

But wait. The only thing I’d ever organized is my own home. Who would hire me to help them organize their clutter? How would I find clients? Did I need to get certified or licensed—anything to legitimize myself as a “professional” organizer?

I started doing some research and discovered there were actually quite a few established organizing companies in the Nashville area. I decided I would reach out to a few of these organizers, and see if they would meet me for coffee and let me ask them questions on how they got started. One lady called me back, and I gave her my pitch, hoping that she’d just meet with me and answer my questions.

Instead, she offered me a job. Over the phone. Starting the very next day! I remember sensing some slight hesitation from her right after she made the offer, and to ease her mind, I said something like, “I promise I’m not a serial killer or anything. I’ve been fingerprinted so many times by the public school system, they surely would have arrested me by now.” Probably not the most professional statement to make during an interview, but there ya go!

For the next three years, I learned the “profession” of being an organizer. I worked in homes all over the greater Nashville area, and was able to learn a little of the behind-the-scenes “business” side of being an organizer. I often worked as a part of a team of organizers, and I loved seeing the dramatic progress we would make in those cluttered homes. That’s one of the addictive qualities about organizing—the “before and after” effect!

My dream for owning my own business had diminished quite a bit, because I was so satisfied with my work. It was actually really nice having a boss and a mentor, not being required to call all the shots or shoulder all the responsibility or handle all the client phone calls. But my dream of starting my own business resurfaced when I felt my flexibility being challenged. I realized the only way to truly have my dream job, the kind where I made my own schedule, would only happen if I struck out on my own. It was truly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and I almost—almost—didn’t go through with it. I will forever be grateful for being given an entry to a profession I’ve loved so much, and there are many days where I miss being part of a team. But it was time to take the next step.

I felt terrified. Thrilled. Fearful. Inspired and flooded with all kinds of ideas of what my business, my business, would look like. David helped me figure out how to set up an email address, website, and order business cards with my own logo. I announced to our friends and family that I was officially starting my own business.

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I will never forget how excited yet equally terrified I was at my first client consultation. I had never been on a consultation with the organizing company I worked for, and had zero experience in selling my business. But it turns out I must be doing something right, because to this day I have a 92% closing rate.

My business still ebbs and flows, and I’d still love a way to reach more people. I’m not always “busy”, but I got to travel a good bit and visit my family 8 times last year.

I don’t make a lot of money, but I love what I do. I hate making invoices and doing math, but I love writing about organizing. I don’t like the feeling of selling myself or my business, but I love the relationships I’ve developed with my clients. Really, that’s the best part. The people. I love hearing their stories and their reasons why they can’t get rid of that one thing (and sometimes I make them get rid of it anyway). I am always learning from them and making new friends through them. Sometimes they teach me a new organizing trick!

My clients are often apologizing for their messy house.

Please.

I tell them I am thankful for their mess. Their mess, their clutter creates meaningful work for me. It brings me joy to see a space transform from cluttered to organized. From dysfunctional to purposeful. My clients tell me stories about how they don’t feel embarrassed anymore to have guests stay at their home. Kids want to invite their friends over, now that the house looks so good. Their family can have dinner at the dining table again. Moms can find the holiday decorations with ease, and make their home an inviting and festive place. Grocery shopping and meal planning is easier, now that they can actually see what’s available in the pantry. Getting dressed in the morning is more fun because the only clothes left in the closet are loved and ~heyyy~ actually fit!

Besides, if we were all organizing nerds like myself, what a boring world this would be! Not all of us are naturally gifted with an organizing brain, and I am often in awe of the creativity and skills my clients have. Some of my clients are real estate agents, hair stylists, shoe designers, nurses, summer camp organizers, corporate executives, interior designers, hostesses, attorneys, stay-at-home moms and grand-moms, business owners, teachers, and more. They have amazing gifts, talents, and skill-sets.

Organizing isn’t rocket science, but it’s a job that I love.

And a lot of times, it doesn’t even feel like work.

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