Interview with Professional Organizer Janet Ireland

An Interview with Professional Organizer Janet Ireland

My latest organizer interview is with Janet Ireland of Space For Change in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Janet is a Trained Professional Organizer, member of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), and Certified Supply Chain Management Professional through the Supply Chain Management Association of Canada (SCMA).

Janet, what made you decide to start an organizing business?

As I was preparing to retire from a 34-year career in health care as the Manager of Materiel Management at our local hospital, I knew I wanted to continue to keep busy and do something fun – something that would be more physical than my previous career and that had some flexibility – so I started to research professional organizing, which was always something I did well in my personal life. I found the Professional Organizers in Canada website, and the rest is history!

How did your training and experience prepare you to become an organizer?

Working in materiel management included logistics, a hospital relocation project, and managing the constant moving of supplies and equipment, and obtaining some Lean training certainly was a great foundation. I was able to take those skills along with my training through POC and the experience I continue to gain through every organizing job or task to become an organizer. I love this job!

How did you come up with your business name?

It took me several months to come up with “Space For Change” as I was trying to find a name that was broad enough that it didn’t restrict me to only providing services in decluttering or other areas.

The word space had a few meanings:

  • the actual physical space that we are working on
  • the space in your head taken up by the anxiety of having a cluttered space or life
  • what I learned through my training – Sort Purge Assign Containerize Equalize – which stuck in my head

What is your specialty?

I enjoy working with seniors and assisting them with the transition to a new home. I’m still new to this business and find it very satisfying to see progress and the stress melt away from people when they see results, whether it be purging surplus goods or organizing a space. It’s a good feeling!

Professional organizers provide people with visible changes to their spaces and relieve some of their anxiety or frustration.Click To Tweet

What other services or products do you offer?

I remove surplus goods and supplies and take them to donation or consignment shops at no charge. I arrange moves from start to finish, including obtaining quotes for the owners, packing, unpacking and setting up.

I have a lending library that I’m happy to share with people on a wide range of topics such as Marie Kondo’s Japanese Art of Tidying Up and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, as well as books dedicated to seniors downsizing. I also have a moving kit available for rent to assist with small moves from tools to moving blankets.

How did you find your first client?

I found my first organizing job through a mutual friend.

How do you approach a new organizing project?

When I first started, I was quite regimented with my list of questions which I think put people off; I wasn’t using my instincts. I now try and take a more casual approach in the sense that I tour the area and really try to capture the clients’ goals with respect to the services they are looking for. I then follow up with an email that highlights what I think their requirements are to meet their goal and go from there. I try and provide a few suggestions along the way.

How are you marketing your business?

I use rack cards and mailouts, try and network as much as I can, and have begun to do talks at local organizations and write articles for a local paper.

I was very lucky to obtain a funding grant through a small business program in Ontario that allowed me to build a website through Janet Barclay Web Design.

Before we continue, let me say a bit about that project!

As a new business owner, Janet needed a website to help her establish a presence in her local community and attract potential clients. One of her colleagues in the POC Cyber Chapter told her about my extensive experience creating websites for professional organizers, so we connected and hit it off immediately.

She had engaged a local firm to design her logo, but they were unable to capture her vision. I introduced her to my graphic designer, who came up with a beautiful logo that became the foundation for the design of Janet’s website.

Space For Change responsive website

I’m really pleased with the outcome and, more importantly, so is Janet!

What’s your favorite organizing product?

I’m not sure – it could differ depending on what I am working on.

Personally, I still use a paper calendar in my office on the bulletin board right above my computer. I find it helps me plan when I can visually see the entire month, everything from birthdays to appointments to upcoming trips. I also use the scheduler available through Google to add appointments and prompt me when something is coming up.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about running an organizing business?

I really enjoy the work. Although we get paid, I think we are providing a great service to people, hopefully by providing them with visible changes to their spaces and relieving some of their anxiety or frustration.

What is the biggest challenge you currently face in your business?

Managing family members with differing opinions is sometimes quite interesting.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I love to go for walks and hikes and have begin to golf again after a five-year absence. I also like to cook and hang out with my husband Dave, my dear friends, and my two felines, Maggie and Paisley.

Thanks for sharing, Janet!

Who’s next?

If you’d like to be interviewed for Your Organizing Business, simply fill out the questionnaire.

A former professional organizer, I’m now a web designer and Certified Digital Business Consultant. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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Comments

  1. Wow – a grant to get Janet Barclay to build your new website! Where do I apply? That is terrific. I agree that being casual on the intake visit can really help create rapport and put people at ease. I feel the same way – follow your instincts. Love that you rent out a moving kit. What a neat idea!

    • thanks Seana – I love getting feedback – I seem to learn something new ever day! I live in Ontario and went through the Starter Business Plus Program available through the Nipissing/Parry Sound Business Ctr – there were so many great resources and classes as part of the program and during the program you create a business plan that they help you with. The program allowed me to pitch for a grant up to $5,000 which I received which allowed me to spend a lot on marketing and create the website – it was so worth it! It was wonderful to work with Janet as I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to doing that kind of thing..she steered me in the right direction!

  2. Your enthusiasm for what you do comes through loudly and clearly. Your clients are lucky to have your help and expertise. Moving can be so stressful, especially for elders. Having someone that can help navigate all aspects is a gift.

    I like how you evolved your intake process to allow for a more relaxed process.

    • thanks for the feedback Linda – every time I meet with someone I reflect on what went well and what I can improve on..so its a work in progress for sure but I’m learning all of the time!

  3. It’s nice to hear about other Professional Organizers’ beginnings. Thank you for doing this series. Having a passion for a new career is an important stepping stone for making the business a success. Good luck with your business, Janet.

    • thanks Sabrina – as long as I can help people meet their goals and reduce their stress levels – I will continue to do this. It was the definitely the right decision for me to pursue this as a second career. thanks for the feedback!

  4. Janet, it was great to “meet” you. Love your website, both in content and clarity in layout ( yeah Janet Barclay!).

    I love that you have promoted others in your resources. I often think I need to be all the answers to someone’s problems. But that networking works on multiple levels, I’m sure. You don’t have to do everything and others have you to recommend to their clients.

    Congratulations on your new career! And welcome to the industry!

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