Like any other small business owner in “start up mode” I spend most of my “free” time reading, studying and watching videos about my industry.
Last night, I was watching a live video from the founder of a large professional organizing association. Everything was going great until she said, “You need to have a niche.”
She went on to explain that most people don’t set aside personal budget for a home organizer so if you have a “niche” in a category where they do set aside budget, it’s easier to justify hiring you.
For example, you could have a niche where you specialize in food prep organization. Someone who has a budget for meal planning could better justify hiring the services of a professional organizer.
Does this make sense? Absolutely, it does. Could I do this? Yes, I definitely can.
My whole career as a mother I’ve cooked two versions of almost every meal… one for people who like the taste of food and the other for my daughter. So, yes, this could easily be my niche.
But something about a “niche” does not seem to fit me.
I don’t yet have a “niche.” Maybe one day I will. Maybe I don't need one.
There is a lot I can do and a lot I enjoy doing. But I don’t think it’s “what” I do… I think it’s “how” I do it and maybe even more important… “how” I got here in the first place.
Maybe my “how” is my niche.
All good professional organizers and home designers have a process. The “how” is really important, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here.
The “how” that I’m referring to is “how” I got here and “how” it has shaped my approach.
I am emotional. I love and loathe being organized. I am bursting with empathy for everyone and anyone who calls upon my services. It humbles me.
Let me explain.
There has never been a time where someone came into my house without saying something like: “Oh my, you are so organized, I would hate for you to see my house” or “Your house looks staged” or “Will you do my house?”
Do these compliments bring me joy? Sure. I love my home and how I feel when I’m in it. However, the process to get here is not always filled with joy.
I am not a psychiatrist or a doctor and I’m no expert in ADD or OCD. However, I know that I live in a space between ADD and OCD.
Ask my daughter about what it was like to grow up in my house. Sometimes my daughter and her friends would move items in my house just slightly out of place and then when I came home they would watch me go into auto pilot as I adjusted every item to get it to the exact angle I left it.
I also needed to see lines in my carpet from the vacuum cleaner and coached my family on the paths that they could take through the house in order to avoid messing up these lines.
I physically can not leave my house knowing that there is a dish in the sink (I can’t do it. It would be torture) and I’ve been late to family functions as a result of this. I could go on and on, but you get my point.
So when you come to my home and you see how tidy and organized it is, you don’t see that there is more to it than that. It has to be this way. I am not able to cope with any other way.
If your house is not that way, I understand. I would not expect it to be. It’s… just… not… that… simple. There is more to a space than what you see. We are all doing the best we can.
So that’s it. I’m an empathetic ADD or OCD professional organizer. I understand the emotion that goes behind disorganization and organization and I know that the space between the two is not very large. That’s my niche. Well… that’s part of it.
I encourage every client to ask me as many questions as they would like about my background and qualifications. After all, you are welcoming me into your most private and personal space. You should know me a bit.
I’m a mom. Many of my clients are moms so I think this further builds on that empathy I was talking about. I am the mother of 4 (counting my soon-to-be daughter in law who lives with me part time).
My oldest daughter is successful with multiple advanced degrees. My son is a ridiculously talented young man getting ready to graduate from college. My youngest daughter has had a rough road but is a beautiful sweet girl with a big heart.
My diplomas are their photos that hang on my wall. My children are my accomplishments.
I raised my kids with one bathroom.
We lived in apartments until my oldest daughter was 10 years old.
Our first house had one bathroom.
My current home has one bathroom.
I’ve never had a walk in closet.
I’ve never had a pantry.
I know. I know. These are “first world problems.”
I spent many years as a very young mom on an army salary living in the space between poverty and “barely getting by.”
Like anyone else, we’ve had some pretty big hurdles along the way. So here is where this matters in my niche and my “how.”
Limitations created limitless opportunities where I truly learned to be resourceful.
I became a home “stylist” because it was not until I was 52 years old that I had the resources to hire my first contractor to do a remodel in my home. Up until then, I had to rely on creating style and a designer look on a very (I repeat… very) small budget.
I did not have a budget for anything. We had to make everything last.
When it came to clothing, my girls always looked be-you-tiful!
I figured out how to make pieces last forever through proper care and folding.
It was 22 years and 2 months ago that I sat in front of my computer getting ready to call my local paper to give them the “go ahead” to run an ad for my professional organization business and interior design business.
My daughters were 17 and 19. My son was only 2.
I had my LLC. I had a tax ID. I had stacks and stacks of floor samples, fabrics, paint chips, fancy containers, a few clients lined up… I was ready.
But I wasn’t.
I did not make that call. I did not launch that business.
The space between that moment and right now, is 22 years and 2 months. It is a son. It is a daughter. It is loss. It is grandchildren. It is struggle. It is fear. It is triumph. It is celebration. It is 22 years and 2 months that led to this.
It is knowing that it is “never too late to become who you were always meant to be.”
Call me the “emotionally empathetic organizer” (EEO… catchy, right? No.) .
All I know is this... I care a lot.
I understand that spaces come with emotion.
Spaces are personal.
Spaces tell a story.
I will treat every space with equal passion, commitment and care.
Maybe your space is the basement of a loved one that you lost and you don’t know where to start.
Maybe your space is a bathroom closet bursting with products that you thought you needed.
Maybe your space is a stack of boxes full of questions. Do I need this? Why am I saving this? Does this bring me joy? Why does it matter?
Maybe your space is just awkward and perplexing.
Maybe your space is about to become a nursery for your first child.
No matter what the space. I’m here to listen to you and why it matters to you.
I truly do want you to love your spaces and everything in between. Is that my niche? We shall see.