Interview with Professional Organiser Mel Carruthers
This month’s organizer interview features Mel Carruthers of More Organised in the south of Scotland. Her story is unique, and I’m sure you’ll find it as interesting as I do.
Mel, what made you decide to start an organizing business?
I was blogging about home organising, simply as a hobby. I built my own website for the same reason, and filled it with content about what I was interested in… home management and photo organising. Then people started to ask me to help them “in real life”… and magazines started to ask me to write for them on the topic. Before long, I realised that I could make a new career for myself out of organising… so I quit my corporate job in Dubai and moved my family to Scotland to open More Organised Ltd!
How did you happen to be living and working in Dubai?
My husband Chris and I moved to Dubai in 2005, a couple of years after getting married, really because we both felt a bit stagnant in our careers in our early 30s, and we were both looking to shake things up a bit and experience something new. My husband had lived in Abu Dhabi as a child, so the UAE was the obvious choice. The promise of constant sunshine and warmth also helped!
We did it differently to others though… rather than getting a job in Dubai and then relying on the company to fly us out, we did it all ourselves. Chris went first, got a job and then I sold our apartment and followed him two months later. I had been a museum curator at home in Scotland but that wasn’t an option for me in Dubai (I didn’t speak Arabic, the history was new to me and the museums sector in the UAE was difficult to get into), so I “fell into” a job in an international corporate law firm, as a marketing assistant. Within two years I was running the business development department and headhunted by another firm, and so my career in legal business development began. Although I enjoyed some of the big projects and developing my team, I didn’t enjoy the long hours, high stress environment and the culture of a high-level law firm, especially when Finn was born in 2011 and I had even more on my plate.
So I started to write my blog in 2014, choosing home organising as the topic – really as a hobby and to learn how websites worked. People started to ask me to help them organise their schedules and homes, magazines asked me to write for them and radio shows asked me to talk to them. As my reputation grew, I knew that I wanted to become a professional organiser – but setting up a small business in Dubai was prohibitively expensive for me. So in Spring 2017 I quit my job and we arrived back in Scotland in July 2017, started More Organised Limited… and lived happily ever after. 🙂
I’ve written a couple of blog posts that give some more background to the story, which you may want to read:
How did your training and experience prepare you to become an organizer?
I am an experienced and qualified museum curator, trained in organising archives and artefacts. The next stage of my career was in corporate law, where I managed the business development department. Again, organising paperwork (and people!), managing schedules and implementing processes was the core of my role. And at home, I run my household and look after my family – which is the ultimate organising challenge every day!In addition to organizational skills, running an organizing business takes a lot of emotional energy and resilience! Click To Tweet
How did you come up with your business name?
I thought about how I wanted my clients to feel once we had worked together, or once they had read one of my blog posts and taken action themselves. I wanted them to feel like they had taken a step along the journey towards being organised, and I wanted the name to reflect both this journey, and that the end goal was not perfection. So “More Organised” was born!
What is your specialty?
I love to help people find function, joy and calm in their homes… but my speciality is helping families to organise their memories and photos. Our stories are so important to us, and I really enjoy helping people to record them. I was a museum curator in my previous career, so there are many areas of work that cross over, especially when it comes to memorabilia and photos.
What other services or products do you offer?
Home organising and declutter coaching, office organising, digital organising, and diary management.
What professional associations or other organizations do you belong to?
How did you find your first client?
Through Instagram. I love Instagram as a way of engaging with people… and once I started to use the platform to market my blog, followers started to ask me to help them. Both in Dubai when I started, and later in Scotland when I opened my business, my first clients were Instagram followers.
How are you marketing your business?
These days I get about half of my business through word of mouth, and the other half through social media (Instagram and Facebook).
Networking is hugely important to me… both because I love meeting new people, and because it is the best way to get your name out there! I set myself a goal of meeting at least one new person a week, whether that is for coffee, at a business networking event, or just popping into their business premises to introduce myself and More Organised.
How do you approach a new organizing project?
Listening to the client is always the first step. I have lots of organising ideas, and am a passionate declutterer, but an organising project is about my client and their own situation. So every project starts with me listening to my client, before we start to look at options to solve their organising challenges and meet their goals.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about running an organizing business?
The amount of emotional energy and resilience required! Our stuff brings out all kinds of emotions in us, and I am constantly learning from my wonderful clients.
What is the biggest challenge you currently face in your business?
Expansion. I am a one-woman business covering a huge geographical area in the south west of Scotland (and beyond). I would love to bring on additional staff to help me help more people. Right now though, I am not sure I have the time to train someone up in the way that More Organised operates, so it is a bit of a Catch 22 situation!
What’s your favorite organizing product? Why?
I love browsing stores for boxes and baskets, files and folders. But my favourite organising products are those that the client already has at home! I would always prefer to reuse and recycle, rather than buy new.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Work on my own family’s photo organising and scrapbooking, using the Project Life pocket scrapbooking system by Becky Higgins. (Oh wait – that’s my favourite organising product!)
Spend time with my family and friends, exploring our little corner of Scotland. We only moved to Scotland two years ago, so there is still so much for us to discover.
What else should we know about you?
I love rainbows, and often arrange items in rainbow colour order… I will “rainbowtize” anything given half a chance!
I am a huge fan of U2 and collect their music on vinyl. I also collect books on organising and hoarding, somewhat ironically!
Thanks so much for sharing your interesting story, Mel!
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