Mandy, let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you?
I’m Mandy Whitehurst, and I’m just a little bit into budgeting, organizing, and home management. Okay, more than just a little perhaps. I live in Camden with my ridiculously awesome husband Chris, director of bands at Camden County High School. The two of us also own a video and audio business, Cw Multimedia, that specializes in special events videography, promotional and video marketing, and small studio audio engineering. When I’m not engaging and advising on social media or working directly with clients in their homes, I totally dig cycling, healthy meal prep, singing, reading, Netflix binging and playing Lego video games with my kids.
How many children do you have and what are they like?
We have 2 boys, Gavin who’s 7 and Alex who’s 5. They are definitely “all boy”–inventive, always on the move, completely loyal, and loving to the core. I really can’t remember what life was like before them, but I very much treasure my monthly date nights that we make sure to set in stone about a month before. Gotta find that time apart to recharge and reconnect.
Why did you start Red Door Organizing?
I used to teach music in the public schools and was very certain that when my first child was born I would say goodbye to full-time employment at least until they were both in kindergarten. I guess the heart for teaching never really leaves, because for years I’d have friends and acquaintances on social media encourage me to continue sharing my home organizing, household management tips, and affordable DIY projects—folks were always telling me they were motivated by my posts and that I should consider making a career out of it. Fast forward 7 years, and my youngest is about to register to head to school next year. I guess that encouragement from my circle of influence planted the seed of possibility and now it’s the one thing that keep coming to me when I ask myself “What is it that you’re really passionate about and how can you use this talent to serve others?” I want to expand my reach to provide my services full-time when my youngest is in school next year, but right now I love the flexibility afforded by being my own boss. I’m home when it’s homework time, I can get my kids to Tae Kwon Do, and we are able to sit around the dinner table together most nights of the week.
Are there any books, websites, or other resources that inspired you?
Some of my favorites are Joshua Becker’s “Clutterfree with Kids” by Joshua Becker and his blog. Right now I’m about to finish up a fantastic book by blogger and best-selling author Ruth Soukup, “Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, & Soul”. I’d love to get my hands on her other popular title: “Living Well, Spending Less.” I’ve also recently discovered the bloggers and filmmakers (they have a documentary streaming on Netflix simply called “Minimalism”) that go by the “The Minimalists”. Joshua and Ryan will make you rethink everything about why we purchase in excess and the freedom found in just letting go of these unrealistic expectations that bombard our everyday lives.
What are the first steps in your process?
After an initial chat with the client on the phone or via email (which I prefer, because seeing “before” pictures make it a lot easier for me to brainstorm the project and start to estimate time frame involved), I’ll want to set up an assessment walkthrough visit, where I come to the client’s home and get a feel for the entire space we’ll be working in. I may have some initial ideas of what I’d like to do with the space, but the client’s input is absolutely essential throughout the process—I need to find out what they like about the space, what’s definitely not working for them, what they may need to purchase to make the project space functional, manageable, and attractive, and what the space is going to mainly be used for. I need to get a clear picture of the client’s expectations and needs in order to plan their dream space.
How do you work?
I utilize a clear 4 step process: Assess, Plan, Implement, and Evaluate. You can learn more about each step on my website.
What are some of the biggest hang-ups preventing people to get started?
In Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer’s book “UnMarketing” they discuss the concept of the “trust gap,” and they use the example of the time they spoke to professional organizers. They researched a bunch of the companies’ websites before the event and noticed many offering “free consultations” of their potential clients’ home organizational needs to get their foot in the door. They go on to explain, “By focusing only on price as a barrier to making the first purchase, they are missing something important…there is also a tremendous trust gap.” “As potential clients, we really want to get to know and trust you before we have you in our home and give you access to our mess.” This chapter truly resonated with me and I began to realize the importance of cultivating genuine relationships with potential clients, continuing to offer advice, field “how would you handle this” queries, and engage in an honest and real way with Facebook followers and past clients (they are far more valuable than any paid advertisement). Letting someone into your mess is probably one of the biggest hangups, followed closely by just being too overwhelmed and thinking it all has to be tackled at once. Starting small is always best—clients see fast progress, fall in love with the results, and gain momentum to continue.
What can people expect when they work with you?
Once someone gets past the “trust gap” and allows me the great privilege of working alongside them, I want them to understand that confidentiality is of the utmost importance to me. Integrity, competence, objectivity and courtesy are an absolute must for anyone providing this kind of service. When sorting through photos, financial paperwork, credentials, and keepsakes my clients can know with certainty that I will never reveal anything that I might learn about the client with anyone else, and they can feel free to share with me any details in utter confidentiality that they feel necessary to assure successful project results.
What are the benefits to hiring someone to help instead of doing it alone?
My most recent client told me as we were wrapping up for the day that she knew she’d needed to let go of the 42 years of gifted and collected items, but “if you’d not come over to help me I would’ve never gotten started.” I think that’s really it—oftentimes another set of hands, fresh eyes, and an objective and non-judgemental perspective of a motivating and knowledgeable outsider is what many people need. An accountability partner of sorts—someone to give you permission to let go of the guilt, and the stuff and the clutter.
Have you dealt with any struggles while helping people get organized?
Thankfully I haven’t really encountered a major challenge of a project—nothing that made me drop my jaw, turn and run, asking “what did I just get myself into.” When that client does hire me, I’ll take a deep breath, kick off my shoes at the door and assess and plan like I would for any project. We will definitely start small, suggesting that we begin with one essential area where the client would see almost immediate refreshing results. Extreme disorder doesn’t happen overnight and digging out of the clutter and putting new systems into place will take time as well.
What is one of the best benefits you get from being more organized?
The most obvious benefits are going to be what you can easily see—the ability to more easily find you things, the financial savings of not buying duplicates, more breathing room, and space, more time because you will be spending less of it cleaning and maintain all your things. I addition, a less cluttered home will lead to less stress and increased peace of mind for clients. They often find confidence and a sense of calm. Increased organization lends itself to greater focus and productivity, freedom, empowerment, and hope.
What goals do you have for this year?
Personally and professionally I’m being very intentional about cultivating real, genuine, and influential relationships. Not only because it’s the best way to market a growing business, but because relationship matters. I want everyone that I encounter to know that they matter, they are wonderfully made, and that I care about their well-being. Again from one of my new favorites “UnMarketing”: “Take a good look around and appreciate where you are and what you’re doing. Don’t neglect people who are giving their time to you.”