Episode 06: From County Government Employee to Professional Organizer

Anyone else feel like they keep seeing these beautiful before and after organization photos, shows and videos, then immediately get the urge to do it all yourself? Somehow the idea of doing it sounds great, yet, I’ve never made much progress. BUT, after talking to today’s guest, Jessica Luck, founder of Inspiring Organization, I finally took the leap in organizing our back porch. Not only do I feel a weight lifted after decluttering and organizing, but I had the most amazing talk with Jessica — let’s just say I prepped her for a 30 min talk and it’s nearly an hour ha!

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06. From County Government Employee to Professional Organizer, with Jessica Luck

Anyone else feel like they keep seeing these beautiful before and after organization photos, shows and videos, then immediately get the urge to do it all yourself? Somehow the idea of doing it sounds great, yet, I’ve never made much progress.

We kick off this episode with Jessica’s life pre-organization, where she was a stay at home mom with her 4 kiddos while her husband was in the Marines. She then transitioned to a full time county government employee with hopes it would give her an in at her ‘dream job’ (or so she thought) as a social worker — she has always had a heart and passion to serve others. 

Her days consisted of an all out hustle– getting kids ready and out the door, working full time, rushing to get home and get kids to their activities, hurry home for dinner/bed, then repeat ALL OVER AGAIN. She explained how there was never a reprieve or time to settle in, they were always GO GO GO. 

Jessica tells me about the BIGGEST SHOCK that ended up sparking her decision to start Inspiring Organization. You’ll have to listen to find out — it’s a good one!

Jessica remembered that when she was growing up, she dreamed she wanted to be an organizer, but did not know it was a profession! So what did she do? Turned to GOOGLE (like we all do, right?)! 

She found organizers in the area which was surprising and encouraging as that meant there was a market for her. She joined a national association (YES, there is a national association for organizers!), which gave her the green light to start this as a career and business. Jessica didn’t know anyone who was a business owner so truly found all the details from the google search bar and podcasts — it’s more accessible than you think!

She gives one of my favorite pieces of advice, reminding everyone not to let a lack of business experience derail you! There is SO MUCH info on YouTube, internet articles and social media coaches — if you have the idea in your heart and mind, it’s achievable!!!

We dive into ways to separate yourself from others in the industry (hint: it’s a lot of what I talked about in last week’s solo episode here). She explains how she doesn’t approach projects as a know-it-all and that is something her clients love about her! She is energized from the peace and calm that come after the decluttering and organization.  

We then geek out on what it means to be in a service industry that is so personal! How we approach people when they are their most vulnerable and finding your personality to attract the right customers. Jessica even explains how she used to want ALL THE CLIENTS, but has learned that there is a specific client that works best for her and THAT’S OK! It wasn’t always like that, she had to take on any client she could at first but has grown her business enough to make these decisions. Sometimes you don’t know who your ideal client is until you find out who your ideal client isn’t (AMEN!!!)

Jessica breaks down the timeline of her business, the REAL highs and lows — think months with no clients, followed by those with packed schedules. She reveals how she figured out the seasonality of her business and when she felt she had true success (pssst, it took a while and that’s normal!)

We jump into one of my favorite subjects: your support system and some true honesty about all that goes into being a business owner. Owning your business is a full time job which you can’t understand until you are in it! When you are running a business, you are doing it all (unless you hire someone for something), wearing all the hats. 

You have to do what works for you! Sometimes that is the 9-5 with insurance and security, while other times it’s venturing off on your own. Take a deep look at the give and takes of each option and see what works for you and your family!

We finish up (are you still reading and listening?) with the details of her business and the process she uses. It’s not ALL organizing and perfectly symmetrical bins! The ultimate goal is to have people look forward to coming home, excited about living their lives and being with their families. A lot of her clients come from different backgrounds and are not looking for a perfect pretty pantry, but so much more emotional and empathy. She leaves us with tips for those looking to get into organizing themselves — though she drops some knowledge that everyone can benefit from!

I can’t thank Jessica enough for taking the time to chat with me, leaving all of us with so many actionable tips, true life tools and steps to take to achieve the peace and calm we all deserve — especially now!! You are going to LOVE her and this episode, I already know!

Make sure to check Jessica and Inspiring Organization out on her website, Facebook and Instagram — you wont be disappointed!

You can listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, iHeart Radio and Stitcher!

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans and the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn in tow. But I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos. Hi everybody and welcome to another episode of amidst the chaos, I’m so excited this week, if you can’t tell in my fancy voice already, but I have Jessica luckier on the podcast she’s with inspiring organization she started this company from the ground up and has a lot of similar story line to what I had and similar background family wise, not the fact that she has five kids and I have to, but other than that we have similar storylines So, Jessica, I’m so excited that you’re here. Thank you so much for coming on.

Jessica: Yeah, no problem. I’m excited to be here.

Dana: So we are going to start from the very beginning with Jessica, if you will give us kind of an overview of what your life looked like, you know, a few years before you even started thinking about inspiring organization as a business, and let us know kind of what your day to day looked like and how your life was going and how you felt about that and then we’ll go from there.

Jessica: Okay, yeah. So, before I started my business I worked full time nine to five job and I look in my local county government. But even before that is kind of where my story begins which I was a military wife for 13 years. My husband was in the Marine Corps and during that time we had four kids, and I spent most of that time at home and I really enjoyed being at home, and I also volunteered, through the different bases that we lived on through community service centers as family team building instructor and Family Readiness assistance, always with the goal of helping and encouraging and empowering other families, especially moms and military wives who are in charge of all the things, when their service member is working or training or deploying all the time. But once my husband got out of the military and we settled into civilian life, that’s when I transitioned from being at home with my four kids, to working full time and my youngest was getting ready to start kindergarten. So, life was it felt. It felt good to be back at work at that point, the job that I was working wasn’t my dream job, I was working for the assessor real estate assessor’s office but it was in the community of where I was trying to head towards my dream job, which was or what I thought was my dream job, which was being a social worker. I do have a degree in sociology and human and family dynamics so I’ve always had a heart and a passion to serve others. And at one point, I even was going to school to become a therapist, which is kind of ironic because a lot of my clients. Now tell me that our organization sessions are like therapy to them. I could totally see that. Yeah, we just, I mean, we, we always become friends but there’s a lot of that a lot of emotion that goes into getting rid of things and processing things. So it does become like a therapy session. But anyway, so I was working a normal job, normal nine to five, and my day today. I think looked pretty normal, like most moms who are working full time rushing out the door in the evening and getting kids to the bus stop and the babysitters or daycare, and just hustle, hustle, hustle, working all day and then rushing home to get dinner on the table and get kids off to their activities, my kids are in sports, and they are active all seasons of the year so there was never a reprieve where it’s just come home from work and settle in as a family. We’re very go go go and we don’t over, you know over push sports but with four kids, even when one each kid is in one activity it stays very busy, so life out very busy, and just constant, but I was in that job for going into my third year, when I got the shock of my life, which was that I was pregnant with baby number five and the reason why that was such a shock was because my husband had a vasectomy, after baby number four. Here we are wild. Yeah, here we are almost five years later. Our youngest is in preschool, getting ready to go into kindergarten, and I find out I’m pregnant, which I never I mean, people have surprised pregnancies, unexpected pregnancies all the time but it’s not something you expect when you take such drastic permanent measures, right. So, it was not even on my radar whatsoever that I could even be pregnant so once I found out I was pregnant, it, I mean, my world temporarily crumbled for a little bit. Just had to really come to grips with it and then I was able, you know, through the pregnancy to feel like it was probably the biggest blessing of my life. She’s now two from her pregnancy. I came up with building my business, but I don’t think if it, if it were not for that surprise and that total pivot in life, that I don’t know if I would have had the guts to get out there, but I knew that God didn’t give me this baby for life to just stay the same. So, I was already struggling because with four kids at the time and doctor’s appointments and school activities and sick days, I was burning through my PTO constantly and that was one of the main pain points that I had more so than the you know the long work days and the hustle bustle of life was, I never felt like I had time off that could be just for a vacation, or to enjoy my family, and once I found out that I was pregnant again and we were bringing another kid into the family I was just thinking like this can’t. This can’t be it like this is gonna be life, wake up, rushing out the door, or holiday rush to get home rush in the evening, and then there’s never a reprieve from that, because by the time we get halfway through the year I’ve already burned through my time off, I mean this, this can’t be all there is. And so, I also didn’t feel like she, I was meant to have her and then rushed right back to work and not spending that time with her that I had with my other kids which life looked a lot different since my husband was no longer in the military, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to enjoy her as much as I did the other kids, so about four months into my pregnancy four or five months into my pregnancy. I really started looking over everything for maternity my maternity leave. And I was just like I can’t I’m not gonna be able to do this, how am I going to be able to come back to work. I never had to do that with my other kids and I’m sure if I absolutely had to. I wouldn’t because moms do it all the time but I knew that, you know, I had to come up with something where I could still feel like I was contributing to my family because that’s very important to me to feel like I have a purpose and I’m contributing, but maybe in not a typical fashion, how can I make this work so that I’m bringing in money but also creating my own schedule so I’m more available to my children in there for this baby. And so that’s where the wheels turning for inspiring organization, and that whole story,

Dana: It’s so funny because everybody has such a different reason for wanting to leave and I think it’s so, so funny that you had four kids prior to this and you manage to, you know, live your life as a stay at home mom with them and then doing all the things in the military community that you did which is a topic for another day because it’s important on so many levels, but you, you’re right, you never had to come back to a job job after a baby was born, and it’s almost like you’re a first time up, I mean, going through that, that, that mental process that so many first time moms do because a lot of them have been in the workforce at that point for however long, and then all of a sudden they’re thinking, oh my gosh, how am I going to do this, but right, you have a different perspective because you kind of knew what you’d be missing, if you had done it four times, you knew what you wouldn’t be there for and on top of that, you have four older ones that you again those days that you’re they’re taking off from work or that they’re from school that they’re sick, you’re already taking PTO for them as well so honestly with that many kids I don’t know how it’s possible I don’t know how people do it, it’s.

Jessica:Yeah, I heard that all the time people would say to me all the time, how do you manage to work full time, with four kids, and I’m just like, I don’t know. Isn’t this what everybody does like is there, and I think some people do, I think a lot of people do.

Dana: I mean, that’s another thing would you have that many kids financially, it’s harder to not do it definitely is harder financially to, to not have both parents working when you have that any. So, what led you to the actual business of inspiring organization and because this is such a niche market, I mean I feel like it’s becoming more popular with things like the home edit but your real life version of that home is fun to watch. I love it but that’s not, that’s not me. That would never work in my life. Yeah, the home edit is great for TV, and there are, I mean there’s all type of organizers out there so I am definitely not gonna put anyone down.

Dana: Right, right.

Jessica: But, You know my style of organizing is very real and relatable and that is what you’ll find when you follow me on social media, all the families the clients that I have are real families just like mine just like yours who were mom and dad are working or busy, or there’s, you know, kids who have ADD, kids who are autistic, there’s blended families there’s been deaths in the families, there’s all types of family dynamics going on and it’s not remotely, about having a pretty pantry, it’s about so much more than that. So, but I thought of the business because you know I’d always when people asked what my dream job was, I think, even since I was a kid, I would say, Oh I would love to be a professional organizer, but that’s one of those things that you say that, you know like when you’re a kid and you want to be a dolphin trainer, not many people are actually, striving to do that, and I never really knew that it could be a real job. It was just how I was even when my oldest who’s now 13 was a toddler I would post before you know Pinterest became a big thing, I would just post on my Facebook, like a consequence chart that I had or like a behavior or our summer schedule like daily plan or a menu for the month that I created in my grocery list template you know all these things that I was doing to keep my sanity, when I had at the time three kids under three and a husband who was gone. So that was just things that I naturally did and I had a lot of friends who were becoming moms and I thought, oh, I’ll just post it because I think it’ll help them too. And I just Oh, I’ve always had a passion to help other people and obviously my heart is with moms because a lot of times we are the ones that are overwhelmed. So when I was brainstorming, things that I could do. I thought about organization somehow and I had no idea what that would look like, I had no idea if there was any local organizers if people actually did this for a job, or if they could do it and get paid are people looking for organizers, I had no idea so I just started doing a million internet searches and really just going gung ho on the idea that I wanted to create this business, but I had no idea what that would look like from the get go, it was an idea and and I didn’t even know if I could do anything with it.

Dana: And so, what did you find in your internet searches? Was it like you you got on there and you’re searching and searching and you’re like okay, this makes no sense. And all of a sudden there was somebody that was doing something that looked like sort of the dream you had or was it truly like okay, nobody’s doing this in my area, how could I make this happen for me.

Jessica: No, I’ve found organizers in that area, which I was surprised so that but that was encouraging because I’m like okay, people are doing this. And there’s a local market for it. And then I found NAPO, which is the National Association for professional organizers and I looked, I just kind of dove headfirst into all their material. I was, I did become a member with them right away so I could get some formal education. I am no longer a member but only because I feel I have felt like over time that that’s not necessarily something that my clientele are looking for. They’re looking for the person not really the credentials. But just knowing that there was this national association of people that like to organize and do it professionally, gave me the green light to go ahead and be like okay, this is, this is a career. This can be a business, let go, and I didn’t have anyone in my circle. Remember my immediate family or friends that own their own business well I did have one. And I reached out to her, she’s a photographer, and she kind of gave me some you know some great some great general advice but obviously not being an organizer, you know, she, she was just kind of leading me down the path that yes, this is what it looks like to run your business, and encouraging me along the way so that was nice to have that support but aside from her I didn’t know anybody, so I didn’t have, you know any too many brains to pick, I was finding all my information, honestly through a Google search bar and podcast I really really really dove into podcasts I had a type of job where it was a desk job, and if I didn’t have to be on the phone, I could have my earbuds in and just go to town, soaking like a sponge, I mean this once, once I was full throttle on it, it literally consumed me. I became my other baby I always joke that when I was pregnant with my fifth I burst my business before I burnt my baby. But there are two being born at one time. So, So yeah, that’s kind of how I came came on the idea, I guess and dove into materials and I would want your listeners to know that — Do not let the fact that you know you’re not trained in business because I was the other thing I thought well I don’t have a business degree, I don’t know how to run a business, how do you run a business when you don’t know anything about business, you know, there are so many resources out there. Anything you want to know, just pull up that Google search bar and find it there’s YouTube videos there’s podcasts, there’s so many internet, articles, and social media, coaches, I mean, honestly, you can figure out so, so much stuff so don’t be intimidated that you don’t feel credentialed enough, I guess you could say, but if you if you have the idea in your mind and it’s on your heart, it’s definitely achievable.

Dana: Yeah and that’s a huge discouragement for a lot of people because they have no idea how to run a business, but for me it started so small, you know, that I didn’t, I don’t know why but I didn’t really worry about that but I know a lot of people really do and it’s, it’s good to be very educated and I from the very beginning, like, got all the business side of things in order because I had plans to grow it, but that did help me a ton to start right off the bat, you know, getting all my ducks in a row with the state and the Christian board and all those things, make sure that everything was ended up the right way. Your niches, really cool because you know back when you started this, it wasn’t quite as popular as it is right now, right, right now it’s kind of like a buzzword, you know, general. But did you, you know, you said it was encouraging for you to see in your Google search that there were organizers in your area. But was it a little bit discouraging to like did you ever feel like, oh my gosh like this is already somebody has already taken this is like an oversaturated market did you have that fear or was this, that’s something that didn’t bother you so much.

Jessica: Probably a little bit of both. I was encouraged, you know, like I’ve already mentioned that there are people out there doing this, and not just in my local community but others that I found all over that were doing it so I knew it wasn’t just like a local thing, but yeah, I was thinking, Okay, well, I’ve already, you know in this simple search found 10 other businesses that are organizers So, where, how is there room for me here. And so that was intimidating in you know the buzzword of imposter syndrome it’s very easy to then fall on these established organizers websites and think, Okay, well, you know they’ve been in business this many years, and they look so professional and they know what they’re talking about and they’ve got testimonials, so clients are already raving about them, it’s easy to get in your head and think, Okay, well, this is a great idea and I’m on a high from figuring this out. Oh, everything has just come crashing down because 30 people doing it, and how am I going to fit it.

Dana: Yes, it’s the total like wind out of your sails, even for you like for me, obviously there are literally 1000s of photographers in North America. Yes, so I went into it knowing that that was like a big kind of downside of choosing this career path but you I feel like, you know you weren’t even sure that it was a thing, so I didn’t know if that was going to be a big issue for you too when you kind of realized if that realization was like oh no, or if you know, like you said, your personality is definitely what sets you apart.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean it was definitely like, oh yeah and then oh no, like kind of both. But I think that, you know, again for anyone listening if you find yourself in that position where you’re in a market that maybe isn’t overly saturated like a photographer where you know they exist and that you can, you can find so many of them, or even if it is something like that just, just be yourself, because no one else can do the work that you’re doing so even if you’re in an overly saturated market it’s what you personally bring to the table that will set you apart. So don’t try to just mimic what all the other organizers are all the photographers, all the other bakers or whatever. The exact job is don’t try to just mimic what they’re doing and set yourself up just like them because they’re already in business and they’re already rocking it out, be you, so bring to the table, whatever you can, that’s different and I think for me personally, I’m good at making connection being relatable and vulnerable and I create intimacy with my clients, they become friends, and I don’t show up as a know-at-all expert, I’m very knowledgeable and organizing and have an extreme energy that most people don’t have when it comes to decluttering, I look at messes that most people would turn right around and walk away from me I’m ready to tackle it head on, because what energizes me is knowing the piece in the calm, that’s going to come after I tackle this mess this client but I think that off the bat not coming off as the know at all and whatever field you are in is going to help, or at least that helps me so that my clients know that I’m there giving them a helping hand out of their mess I’m not looking down on them I’m not judging I’m giving them all the empathy in the world. and I think make people feel seen and heard, is very important so however you can do that in a unique way, you’re going to be able to serve in a unique way. And so that’s what’s going to set you apart.

Dana: Yes, I am so with you on that and I think especially in service based industries like we are both in. This is a huge, huge portion of it because, I mean, that’s, it’s a really intimate thing that you’re doing I mean this is very very up in your business, I mean, showing the parts of your home that most people build doors to close so that when they come over, you know I mean in for me like I’m going into your house 10 days after you’ve birthed a human like that. And you’re supposed to be looking, you know, pretty and put together like that is, it’s hugely, hugely vulnerable portions of your life and I think that because there are so many out there, you really have to be able to put your genuine effort into your personality and make sure that you’re actually showing through and providing them the comfort that they need and personality wise, that’s what makes me different from so many others in my industry and I think that, you know, even when you’re hiring someone, as you know the consumer in either of our industries, I think it’s important to really look at that person’s personality because that’s so much of who you’re going to spend your time with right, and all the money that you’ve invested into whatever it is you really should be doing the research to make sure that you like the person and I think if you’re starting a service based industry looking really introspectively at yourself and how you’re treating your clients, is the number one thing you can do to level up in your business in any way.

Jessica: 100% And your personality and what you put out into the world is going to draw your ideal client to you anyway so you don’t want to be, you know, mimicking what everyone else is doing because the clients that come to you might not be your ideal client might not be who you genuinely connect with. I was a little bit scared about that at first because I didn’t want to repel anyone I wanted anyone who wanted organization to want me, you know to be organizer, so it was hard for me to really zoom in on that ideal client, and be okay with client B C D and E turning to a different organizer I wanted the business of everybody. But I’ve come to find out over time, that no I really do just want this type of client because we are going to mesh and work well together. And that is my, you know, ideal market is working with busy moms and families and it took a little while to really hone in on that because I was scared of narrowing it down.

Dana: Well yeah and financially you, you needed to have all the business that you could get, you can’t be picky when you’re first starting, I mean, that’s it. You know I love listening to podcasts and hearing, you know, successful entrepreneurs talk about how to find your ideal client, it’s going to make your life so much easier, and I totally agree with that and I fortunately I’m at that point in my business, for sure, but I, at the very beginning when I would hurt hear those things I’m like, You’re crazy, I need to get all the business I can get and so I think it’s important to know that your time will come if you stick at it and and that it is okay at first to service anybody that you can and that’s totally acceptable, but you will get there, and it will help you a lot and to know that kind of turning point in your business is going to be really helpful too.

Jessica; And I’m in my third year and I feel like it took those first two years of servicing a lot of different people to, to really hone in on that so it can take time and you don’t learn what your ideal is necessarily until you’ve worked with what you’re not ideal.

Dana: Also true, yeah, yeah, well good so give me, give me the background on the timeline so I know this all kind of happened really quickly from when you found out you’re pregnant with your fifth baby to actually, you know birthing both your business and and your fifth little girl so what did that look like how quickly did you get set up and what was kind of the motivator timewise for you?

Jessica: Well let’s see, I found out I was pregnant with her in February of 2018 I would say in May of 2018 was when I was really set on making this a business, and then in June, end of June, is my anniversary date so that’s when I registered with the state, And, you know, got my website and started my social media and of course I was doing all that stuff behind the scenes, but really kind of announced to the world, while I was still working full time, with the idea that I also offer virtual organizing services. So I thought that was a great segue to service clients but obviously be able to maintain my full time job. And then, I you know I had the idea in the back of my head that I knew I wasn’t going back after maternity leave, so being able to work at home for my business doing virtual organizing at first was definitely ideal and I had people that were interested so I started doing virtual consultations and taking on virtual organizing clients while pregnant. And then I took a little break. Once I had her in October, and then in January of, 2019 probably January February of 2019. I had already had probably a dozen or so virtual organizing clients under my belt but that’s when I really started going physically into homes and kind of the kickoff of the in home organization part, you didn’t go back to work at that point right I did not so over my, you know, maternity leave, I let them know that I would not be coming back, which I think that they fully expected at that point I was friends with a lot of my right co workers and while I wasn’t announcing that I was brewing a business up while also work because that’s not a good look, they knew, I think that I was preparing to move on. So, it wasn’t a shock or surprise but as I said we were all sad and I was too because the job itself was not fulfilling for me. And that was something that I forgot to mention earlier, as another component to wanting to leave, not just the time off, or the time away from the kids but I was in a job that wasn’t my dream job from the get go, it was a foot in the door to lead to this other job, or I hoped it would. And then, you know, but I wasn’t being fulfilled and I’m thinking not only am I like his life, rush, rush, rush but it’s all rush, rush, rush for something I don’t even want to be doing, like, you know, so that was another component and they all knew that. So, once I started seeing in home clients, I mean the ball was slow rolling, because I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want it to be my full focus my whole intention of starting my business was to be able to be at home and enjoy my baby as well. So I, you know, it was very variable some months, I would have a handful of clients some months I might have more or less I mean it was definitely in the building stages of a business very unpredictable, a lot of highs and lows because I can go weeks or a month without, you know, having anyone interested and of course you have thoughts like okay, how is this going to be sustainable like this, this is my business and this is my career and there’s no traction but then I would have other months where it couldn’t keep up with the demand so I think it was, you know, It was just a time of figuring it all out and there definitely I have noticed been seasons in my business, different points in the year when people are more interested in getting organized than other show now I’m at the point where I know that those seasons are coming, but when I first started out, you know, it’s hard not to take it personal, like, Oh, why was everyone so interested in January. So, part of the new year all the resolutions but why are there crickets in February, you know, and when you’re first starting out, you just don’t know those things but as you keep note of clients and all of your like business analytics you can kind of see in prepare for that now. I’m very steady just here round, and there’s definitely a rush at certain times a year but it stays steady so it was slow moving at first and it’s kind of just been like a snowball going downhill that just gets a little bit bigger and bigger and three years later I’m finally feeling like okay, this is the thing like, I’m busy all the time actually what it, you know, mind a little slow down every now and then.

Dana: Was there a specific something that happened in catalysts that happened that made you feel that way like oh hey like this is working, I’m, I’m like pretty comfortable now, Or was it just, you know, one day you kind of realize was there anything that specifically happened to make you see that?

Jessica: I would say that what made me realize that is when I started booking with clients, and had to book a month in two months out, There was not anything in my immediate schedule within the next week or in the next few weeks, because they’re already booked by other clients. So once that stayed continuous, as in, oh you’re you’re calling me today and you’re interested okay well my first availability is not for a month, you know, that this is the first day. That’s when I realize that, you know, this was, this was something I was achieving what I wanted to achieve with this and in moving full force with it.

Dana: Yeah, and I don’t ask that question to like, you know, brag or make it seem like you know hey we’ve done it, we’re here like we, there’s still plenty of struggles but I do ask it because I think it’s encouraging. I mean you started your business. Three years ago, you know, that is so, so encouraging for some and not only started it but really started, I mean you had the idea, and began to implement three years ago and here you are today, like just totally doing such an amazing job and I mean I know your clients just absolutely rave about you and I think that’s crazy, it seems like such a long time when you’re starting out and to think, you know, financially to okay I got two three years before I really feel comfortable, but it goes by so fast and when you’re wrestling like you have I mean, it really does and so I hope this question provides some encouragement to those that are looking at their timeline and thinking how am I going to do this. So, too, in terms of scheduling and talking about you know managing being at home with your kids, and starting the business out I know before your daughter went to preschool. What did that look like were you super stressed was your spouse, supportive and that he kind of helped you manage the kids on the side I mean you have four other ones plus a newborn, you know, how does that look to actually start with technically being on maternity leave, right.

Jessica: He is very supportive and always has been so he’s my biggest cheerleader, and he had more faith in me than I did, I think in the beginning and I’m, you know, very practical and came in with all the but how but this but that knows, it’ll work. It’ll work just, you know, full steam ahead so you know having someone there that is believing in you, when you’re questioning if you know if you’re just in la la land and dreaming. Having that cheerleader, and then that teammate, As a partner and a co parent is imperative I truly don’t know how I would have done it with a spouse that wasn’t supportive and I think that we can all do anything that we put our mind to so I don’t want to discourage anyone whose spouse may be not as supportive, that would probably honestly just make me work harder to prove them wrong, but that’s a personality type. But that was definitely helpful and it was a juggling act and it still is a juggling act because one thing that I’ve learned is that when you own your own business, it’s still a full time job, you definitely have more freedom in your schedule, but at least for me, I always have a million ideas that I want to implement outside of just the hands on organizing my brain is always on inspiring organization, just as much as it is taking care of my family, it truly is it a baby in its own right so I think when I started my business I was kind of, you know, dreamy in Fantasyland about I’m gonna own my own business and I can, I’ll just take weeks off at a time if any day I want off I’ll take off and go on, you know as many family vacations, whatever you know all of these thoughts that I made, you know, I’m never gonna have to ask for a day off again, I get to say when I have a day off, I get to determine if I want to work. And while that’s true. It’s also very much, everything’s on your shoulders so if you want to make money and you want to propel this business forward. You have to keep hustling and, and that is days off, aren’t as appealing as they were in the beginning so owning your own business is very much a 24 Seven job, and I don’t think anyone can truly understand that until you’re in it but I would rather bust my butt for myself personally, then someone else, another, another business like I was and I know that the money that I bring in and the lives I’m impacting are 100% in relation to the time and effort I put into my business so I do believe that owning a business is, is everything that dreams are made of. But I’ve also never put more blood sweat and tears and been so invested in an outcome. Of course, other than raising my own children in my life, so it’s easy to have thoughts about what it could be and then when you’re in it. It may look a little different.

Dana: Yeah, exactly. And I think, I think that’s a huge, huge misconception about owning your own business before you actually own one, I think so many people think including me and clearly you know, hey, I’ll be able to just control this time I’ll be able to take XYZ days off and whatever and there is a truth to that for sure. I mean, with Shawn being gone, he, you know he’s been gone since July and we knew he was coming home, the end of October, and I’m a photographer, the end of October is not a time that you just take off, right, that is like Christmas pictures of Christmas cards that that is your time, weeks, and I said you know what, and we knew from July that was going to be what it was and I was like you know what, I am not booking clients, I’m not booking clients for those days and I ended up booking, up until them, which was hard because then those clients I said hey, you’re probably going to have a little bit more of a wait time on these because I’m going to try not to work so much when Shawn is home. Right, and so I was able to do that and financially wasn’t the best move. No, absolutely not. But that’s what there was no way I was missing those couple of weeks, with him being home for this whole year so there was some sort of flexibility on that level but I think that’s an extreme case, I wouldn’t have done that for really any other reason. But I could, I wouldn’t have had if he had, let’s say he was gone, you know, in July, and by the end of October, every time I kid got sick every time they you know anything happened or needed to go to appointment that would have been PTO I would have been using I’m the only one that would have used it, and I would have been out I couldn’t have taken that time off for him to come home so I agree with you. I will tell you though he left and my stress level was through the roof. I mean with all the work that I had to catch up on. And, you know take back over and get the kids back on track. It’s hard, it’s really hard to take any time off, even owning your own business, it was great that I could do it, because I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. But, I paid for it. I definitely paid for it on the back end. So, it’s that double edged sword, no matter what you’re doing, there’s always going to be a pro and con, and I think for anybody out there looking, you know to start something on their own, you have to put it into perspective of what’s going to be the best for you. It may be the best for some people to know hey I have this steady job that I can clock out for a week and not have to think about or worry about because those two weeks he was home I was constantly thinking about what I wasn’t doing, you know it’s a, it’s a given take you have to figure out what’s going to be most worth it for you.

Jessica: Right, and for some people, you know, that is the nine to five job that they can leave at work, and that’s okay, I don’t think that everyone is meant to own their own business, or that having that type of job, a full time job for a corporate job or a government job or whatever have you, is, is that there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s making you happy, and it’s making you money, and you can leave your job at your work and enjoy your time with your kids, then by all means but for me, I felt I needed a different, I had so much more purpose in life and I needed you know to pivot. And I think another misconception of owning your own business while we’re talking about it, is that the hands on work, whatever it is, whether you’re a photographer, an organizer, an artist, that’s, that’s not the only thing there is to the business, you know, it’s not just, I organize and then, and that’s it and the rest of my day is free and the rest of it, you know my nights are free and my weekends are free, because when you’re running the business you’re doing everything unless you’re hiring it out, you know, the social media the posts that go into it, the emails the contacts the marketing, the bookkeeping, you’re you’re wearing all of the hats and I think that’s another thing that I didn’t necessarily think of so I would want those that are listening, I would really want them to think about that and the commitment that goes into that and again, I would much rather do this for my, my own brand and business out there and further that than the job I was doing before, but it’s definitely a learning curve and it’s definitely a lot of work, there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that no one will ever see and you have to be okay with not getting rewarded or applauded, or acknowledged for that, the fact that your business is running is the acknowledgment, but there’s definitely, I think, a misconception that when you’re not doing the physical work that the job is done, and it’s just not ever done.

Dana: Yeah. And you’re right, you do have to be okay with people not patting you on the back because nobody’s gonna pat you on the back, unless you have a seat you specifically say, Hey, this is what I did today and it was a huge accomplishment so tell me I’m awesome, which I have done to my best friends. Okay, guess what, tell me I’m great. Um, but it is also nice to have all the different aspects of your business because if you’re just done like some days I’m just I’m done editing, I do not want to edit anymore and I realized that I have tons of bookkeeping that I have to get done so I can change my hat and jump into something else that’s different, but with that pat on the back too, and especially in a, I think in a business that requires not less education but less accolades I guess where I didn’t get a doctorate in photography to college for photography. I think that the perception is a little bit that Oh that’s so cute like you started your own business like how’s that going. And that’s not it, you know you don’t say you don’t say that to people right you’re not like, hey, it’s not cute, like this is my livelihood, you know, I, and I think you have to be okay with that and that’s something I, I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be okay with but it was hard for me to get over and fortunately like you I have a very very big cheerleader and my spouse, and so that’s given me most, all that I could ever want in terms of, you know, praise, but it is hard, you know, especially if you, you know, depending on your Enneagram number, if you like to be told that you’ve done a good job. It’s a thing to think about for sure. Okay, so, transitioning a little bit to kind of talk about what you actually do tell me what a professional organizer does right and then what you do, different from others, other than just being, you know, your client’s own personal therapist.

Jessica: Right, well I mean I think that it’s kind of, everyone knows like a professional organizers going to come into your house streamline your spaces, help make them functional so that you can use them with ease. I mean that’s the whole goal a lot of people fall in love on Pinterest or watching the home at it on Netflix, with the beautiful containers and bins, but all of the work that happens before that is the processing of all of the items so sorting and categorizing so you can have those pretty label bins, and that pretty pantry or that closet that closet isn’t full of clothes that no longer fit you, or serve you, because we’ve edited that down. So, my business had kind of has two parts. One side being the organizing and one side being the decluttering and the decluttering always comes first, not every organizing client is a decluttering client Some people live in pretty clean and semi organized homes, They just want to level up and be even more organized, and I work with those families. I just recently did a pantry so, and I just you know completely emptied it out and categorized it and gave her all the pretty things and that’s going to help that mom going forward to not have her stress go through the roof when she walks into her pantry and there’s food everywhere and empty boxes that she thought were full and our kids don’t have snack for school and she doesn’t know what to plan for dinner because she has no idea truly what food is in the pantry. So it’s very much a streamlining, but the decluttering is really where my heart is at because a lot of those clients struggle, and I don’t take on hoarding clients like full on hoarding clients but I have worked in extreme decluttering situations where maybe a client has been depressed for the past year and the most they could do was just get up and go to work every day and not take care of anything in their home so there’s lots of clutter and trash and things that don’t belong and it overwhelms people and they cannot handle going through it, they don’t, they oftentimes don’t know where to start and so I’m a guiding force and saying we can do this, we’re going to do this, this is what we’re going to do, and leading them through getting rid of things that no longer serve them and their home and setting up spaces, so that their home can be some somewhat manageable and a place that they enjoy and don’t dread coming home to so that is definitely my ultimate goal is that people look forward to coming home and get excited about being in their spaces and raising their family and living out their lives in our homes, I mean that’s, that’s where we are, especially now with COVID all the time. So, your place your home needs to be a reprieve from the world not just another stress in your day. And that’s what I work towards with my clients.

Dana: We need to chat about when we stop recording because I need peace I need peace right now we live in a very small home and I do a pretty good job we, but you have to declutter a lot, like when you live in a really really small house especially with kids, you have to do it way more like I would love to do it like once or twice a year I’d be fantastic but I them constantly doing it.

Jessica: So, what kind of sets me apart when you’re, when you’re saying like, I would want to do it once or twice a year is I become a coach of sorts in that we’re setting up systems so that they are easy to maintain and you don’t have to constantly declutter because what we’re going to talk about is what leads to the clutter in the first place, Is it over buying is it people over purchasing for your kids and I’m giving tips and tricks along the way. And in certain situations, I am the only person that my client can talk to about their struggles and feel seen and feel heard and feel like you know they’re not lazy, they’re not a slob, they’re just struggling, and everyone’s mess looks different and I love, and really find purpose in peace and being the person that can kind of provide that light at the end of the tunnel. The best part of my job is not the beautiful after photo that I posted before and afters on my social media is not that beautiful. Yes it is. But the best part of the job isn’t that after photo, but it’s the transformation that happens along the way as a woman or a mom or a family discovers that they are able to create a home or that she can create a home that she can manage with ease and that inspires her to be able to show up fully in all other aspects of her life because our physical environment very much impacts our stress levels and how we’re able to show up as mothers as wives in our careers and for ourselves. And that’s the end goal for me the pretty after picture is great, but it’s what comes after. That’s the most important that’s what I’m going for and I don’t think all organizers are going for that. I’ve been told lately by several people that I just have a much different voice in the space of organization, and I take that as a compliment because I do care about so much more beyond the trends, the physical transformation of this space, it’s like, oh my gosh this is great. This pantry is great, but now you can feed your family and it not be stressful. Now you can create that weekly meal plan in five minutes. Now you can whip up a grocery list because you can literally stand in the door of your pantry and see all the food at one time, not just like a mass pile of food. So it’s that after that really lights me up.

Unknown 15:19
literally, we’re talking about a virtual ruling. We’re talking about this, you know, I think that is just so amazing that not only have you found something that you enjoy doing, but that gives you so much of a sense of purpose and so much satisfaction in seeing how it’s transformed their lives and I just, I, I think, you know for me I landed on something that I also love and I’m passionate about and really really fills my fills my cup.

Jessica: And I don’t know that my business would have been as successful if it if it didn’t do that and I think the same is probably true for you and for most out there so I think it is important to kind of really focus on something that you know you can appreciate for years and years to come because you do have to be emotionally invested in what you’re doing to really do it well,

Dana: And I think that’s very clear that you are and I know that all of your clients just must absolutely love that and see it and the work you do every day and you can see it, you know, as a stranger through your social media you can tell that you’re so passionate about what you do and I think that sets you apart. I mean I’ve been following you for months and months and months at this point and I feel like I’m friends with you but also I can tell that you are legitimately passionate and your posts aren’t just, you know, Oh hey, look at this pretty before and after like it is talks about the transformation and how what these women have gone through as you guys have worked together and I think, you know you sharing that has been so instrumental in at least making me want to keep following you and then, obviously, reach out early on in this in this podcast is somebody I needed to have here with me so I, you know, huge congratulations to you for all that you’ve done.

Jessica: Thank you so much.

Dana: Is there any specific piece of advice you’d want to give for anybody looking to start something similar to what you have?

Jessica: Um, as I kind of said earlier, don’t look out into the world don’t compare yourself to all the organizers that are on Instagram, or in your local community don’t look out into the world for the and that answers, be you, and bring to the table, what you can no one else any anyone you know who wants to can be an organizer or figure out photography but they’re not going to be able to be you and put your spin on it and be okay with doing it messy. You don’t have to show up, thinking, right off the bat that you have to have all the official expert and professional training and answers to everything, most people like I said, are not looking for the expert, some people are but a lot of people what I found are just looking for another human to be able to see them and help them. So what however that looks like for you to connect with your ideal client. That’s what you want to put forward.

Dana: And I think that is just the most sound piece of advice you can give and you know that’s protecting yourself a little bit too. When I first started I went in, like on a following rampage and sound like all the, you know most famous and like, amazing photographers and the style I wanted and then I was like, Oh no, I have to unfollow, most of these people because it has given me such anxiety, you know, comparing myself to what’s going on, what other people are doing and I don’t think that that’s healthy and in a way so you have to protect yourself and know your own energy and how it, how it works when you’re talking about that comparison game so I think that’s a great, great piece of advice,

Jessica: and I think that comfortableness takes time. I definitely followed a ton and compared a ton off the bat and never thought I could live up to some organizers that are really, really, you know, top tier, talking about home at it and some other of the big accounts. But just keep in mind because they have a lot of followers, or they may have their own TV show, or whatever it is they’re, Again, you bring something unique, and that’s what you need to show because anyone can look, the pretty pictures are a dime a dozen in my in my field the organizing before and afters are a dime a dozen, you can get on Pinterest right now. You can scroll Instagram tags, and you could spend days and days just looking but what is setting you apart. And that is what, that’s what the most important part is and if you can serve others, you’re going to be significant and when your significant because of the service that you give, success will find you.

Dana: Yeah, and that is just fantastic advice for anybody that that’s out there listening and thinking about doing this or even if you’re in the first, you know, year or so of your business because I think that’s a trying time emotionally for sure. Well, Jessica, thank you so much I told I told her that this would be like a 30 to 40 minute interview. Here we are at almost an hour so

Jessica: I can’t talk about this stuff all day but I don’t know if people want to listen to it all day but it’s great that they are listening and there’s tons of other, you know, podcasts and there’s so much information out there just become, you know, an avid absorber of as much as you can learn because that’s how you’re going to figure everything out.

Dana: Yeah and I think, you know, for me, a lot of people don’t fall into this category. This is a very niched down podcast I mean I have a very specific type of person that would gain something from listening to this and so I think, you know, widening your scope too but if you’re somebody that’s just started listening and have found a community to be helpful for you. I’m really excited because I know I needed something like,

Jessica: Oh my God, I want to pay, really good money to hear a couple of other moms talk and just give me the assurance that I could do it, that they’re doing it, you know that everything’s not gonna crumble, that I’m not gonna make a fool of myself, you know that the dream is worth it.

Dana: Right, and where you started before you, you weren’t doing this before you had no experience technically in this field at all. And I think what you’ve done, so I think it’s your story is so encouraging to so many people and I’m excited for everybody to listen it. So give us give us all your, your links your where you, where we can find online your website Instagram all that good stuff. Okay, my website is inspiringorganization.com  I’m also at inspiring organization on Instagram, and you can find me on Facebook as well,

Dana: and I don’t know that we said this in the beginning she is in Richmond

Jessica: right, I’m in the Richmond area, and I also do local organizing and I’ve worked with clients all over the states, California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, the states go on and on. It’s been fun to be people from other areas and help them in their homes, that I never even set foot in so that is definitely a service that I offer as well.

Dana: Well, perfect. Alright everybody, well if you have any questions, we’re gonna have some show notes on this so you can head to the link in the, for those of you that are listening, actually I never know what people are talking about podcasts are talking about when they say oh, head to the link in the show notes, I don’t know what that means. So if you go to the description of my show the main page of my show. It tells tells you all about the show and then there’s a link at the bottom that takes you to the website, which has everything you could imagine on it so there will be a specific post about this episode where you can find links to Jessica and her work and her website and then also just some good tips from us as well. So check that out if you can. So thanks again Jessica for coming on and I am so excited to get this out.

Jessica: Yes, thanks.

Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and more snippets of knowledge about this mom Boss Life, head over to our website at Amidstthechaospodcast.com to show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it would mean the world to me and my family if you took the time to rate and review. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.

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