Oct 21, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Jennifer Truesdale of STR8N UP Professional Organizing Services

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we sat down with Jennifer Truesdale, Certified Professional Organizer, NAPO Board Member, and owner of STR8N UP Professional Organizing Services located in Charleston, South Carolina. We had an amazing time welcoming Jennifer to the blog, and really enjoyed talking about a wide range of topics like how Jennifer went from metallurgical engineering to professional organizing, and what tips and tricks she uses to keep her own life organized. To learn more about Jennifer and STR8N UP check out her website here or read our interview below.

Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: This January will be fifteen years. 

Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: It was a happy accident. I got my degree in metallurgical engineering out of college and did that for about 12 years. Then the company I was working for closed, so I sort of had to go through that mindset of “do I want to move and restart, or do I want to reinvent and stay where I am?” I tried a couple of things - purchasing logistics, working with a high-end residential builder, lots of things. In the process of that I was also flipping homes in my personal time and I realized that I really had a passion for the creativity and organizational aspects of flipping homes. I also started hearing about professional organizing on TV as programs were coming out and being aired on networks like HGTV. I started looking into professional organizing, looked into NAPO (and then joined NAPO), started reading a lot of books, and one thing led to another. I opened my business in 2008 and never looked back! 


Q: What’s your favorite type of project to work on?

A: I don’t know that I have a single favorite type, but I think for me the best thing that I get to work on is when the client has very clear goals and they tell you what they want, but then you can take what they’ve told you and add your own vision to it to exceed their expectations. When this happens it becomes a win-win for both of us. When the client has clear goals, and they know what they want, and I can build onto it and make it even better, that’s the best type of project to work on. 


Q: What’s your favorite memory as a professional organizer?

A: I have lots of great client memories, but two probably stand out. The first was when I got board certification, and when I graduated from an intensive Coaching Program. Both of those really significantly helped my career by helping me increase my client base to a different level. And then my favorite memory with a client would have to be a woman who recently reached out to me who was in a hoarding situation and who was pretty much at her lowest point and really felt defeated. She was not local, but we were still able to apply coaching and virtual organizing to help her. I think that was my favorite memory because she had such great success in realizing that she was really in control of making changes in her life. Combining the coaching with the organizing really gave her the success she needed.


Q: What’s your most unconventional professional organizing tip or trick?

A: I would say that each client is different and that the solutions for each client are different. But I really like to think outside of the box for whatever a client needs. For example if the house is small, and they don’t have any storage in their linen closets or bathroom for towels, I might create storage in the bedrooms using a hanging sweater organizer just for the sheets and towels, or maybe a bottom dresser drawer or an under the bed rolling storage bin. So I like using things in a new way to provide what the client needs. 


Q: What professional organizing practice do you use most in your own life?

A: That’s an easy one -I’m highly kinesthetic and I never sit down, I’m always moving around. The thing I do, and it drives my husband crazy, is whenever I get up I take something with me that needs to move somewhere else. So if I have something on my desk that needs to be somewhere else, and I get up to get a drink or a snack for example, I take the stuff that needs to move elsewhere with me. It helps to always be tidying up and making sure that everything is always in its home, and that you’re always cleaning throughout the day.


Q: What’s your favorite new professional organizing trend?

A: I think the biggest trends - I serve on the NAPO Board and we’ve been following trends for years to know what to have our eye on for new innovative ways to grow as as an association - but I think the biggest thing is digital learning and digital organization. There’s so many ways to learn out there between YouTube and TikTok and Instagram and all the “how-to” videos. The problem though is that people intake so much digital information and then fail to organize their devices. So I think that’s going to be a much bigger and up-and-coming area. I also think using tech apps for organization is great. For a lot of my more tech savvy clients I come up with creative ways to help them manage their time and data through different apps. Finding the right tools can be a huge time saver and make life easier. 


Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about professional organizing?

A: I’d say that getting organized isn’t the same for everyone. I guess that the message is it’s not just about making things pretty and tidy, it’s about creating real systems and finding real solutions for someone’s organizational needs. There’s real brain science to understanding clients’ processing modalities (how they learn) in order to help clients achieve success. Understanding the client's needs is so important for knowing how you can support them.

Q: If you weren’t a professional organizer, what else would you be doing?

A: I’ve gone through so many different things that I think when I settled on this career it was the first time work didn’t feel like work. So I can’t imagine doing anything else. But if I had to pick something new, it would be something that meshes creativity with logical thinking. But I can’t envision myself doing anything else.


Q: What professional organizing resources would you suggest for our readers?

A: Yes lots! For finding help I would say obviously NAPO is my number one. ICD (The Institute forChallenging Disorganization) goes a little further when you have specific needs. There’s another called The Photo Managers. One thing I see people needing help a lot with is photos and memorabilia, and The Photo Managers have some great resources. And all these resources have directories where you can find people in your local area. If you’re looking for resources for education I again highly recommend NAPO. There’s also tons of books out there too! There’s a lot of different methods and ways to organize, and there's no wrong way. I would definitely suggest that people just go to a bookstore and see what’s out there and see what relates to them the most. The Marie Kondo style of organizing might work for one person, but maybe not for someone with a hoarding disorder. You have to find the method that fits you best and work with that. 


To learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for you or your loved one, send us an email at info@sunboundhomes.com or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and is on a mission to make senior living affordable for everyone.

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