Sep 13, 2022

Sunbound Asks: Mara Echols of Intuitive Solutions Home Organization

Nat Miller

This week on Sunbound Asks we sat down with Mara Echols of Intuitive Solutions Home Organization located in Waco, Texas and serving customers in the Waco area in towns like Hewitt, Woodway, Robinson, and Bellmead. We had an amazing time welcoming Mara to the blog, and loved covering a wide range of topics from why she loves helping kids get organized to what professional organizing tips and tricks she uses to keep her own life organized. To learn more about Mara and Intuitive Solutions Home Organization go to her website here, or check out our interview below. 

Q: How long have you been a professional organizer?

A: I’ve only been a professional organizer for about a year. I opened last year and our first anniversary is coming up soon.


Q: How’d you get into professional organizing?

A: I feel like all of my adulthood I’ve been really into organizing and making beautiful spaces, but I decided to take the dive into opening the business after I graduated from college. I graduated during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and the job market was horrible at the time, everything was in the tank, so I decided that it was the universe telling me to work for myself. That’s when I turned organizing into a career. 


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

A: Oh gosh that’s a hard one. I would say that the projects that I have the most fun doing are definitely kids’ bedrooms and playrooms. To organize for a kid you have to be in a completely different mindset than with adults. For example you have to take into account that they’re small! You have to put their favorite toys somewhere easy to reach (and put their messier toys somewhere higher where they can’t reach!). Also, kids are big visual learners so sorting things by color or by using pictures can make things a little more fun and creative, and get them more engaged. You want to create systems that kids will be able to use to keep organized, even if this means allowing them to be a little bit messier at times. For example, it might be very easy for a more naturally messy kid to just dump all of their shoes into a bin to keep them organized, rather than try to get them to use an organized shoe rack (that they probably won’t use). It’s really great helping parents create a more organized generation.


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

A: Any time that I can take the stress off someone’s shoulders, that’s a good memory. One that comes to mind is a project I did - and I’ve done a couple like this - where the client’s loved one had passed away. She needed help striking a balance between honoring her memories and the things her husband loved, but also being able to declutter and not be surrounded by grief during that time. It was important to declutter things that weren't sentimental and could go to people who could still use those things. It’s always a very heavy situation, but being able to take the stress off her shoulders to not have to deal with the situation herself was a really great memory. We were able to frame the memories that made her happy, and get her some really nice boxes for her to go through her sentimental stuff so she didn’t have to be surrounded by her grief all day every day.


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

A: I’m not sure how unconventional it is, because I tell it to myself and my clients all the time, but it’s new to some people. I picked up a mantra a couple years ago where I’m always telling myself - “don’t put it down, put it away.” So often people just put things away wherever it’s convenient at the time and just leave them there. Once you’ve done that for long enough, eventually you’ll find yourself in a giant stressful mess. Everything in your house should have a place where it belongs, so that way when you take something out of its place, you should be able to put it back easily and keep your clutter from spiraling out of control.


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

A: I’m a big stickler with myself and my husband about “one in, one out.” Once I buy something for my house -whether it’s a mug or a new jacket - I make myself donate something in its place. This keeps my clutter minimal, and keeps me really mindful of only owning what I need. So many people just have too much, and it helps to keep the amount of stuff you have consistent. 


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

A: Something that’s new, out of necessity, is that so many people work from home now. It’s necessary for lots of people to have a little office in their home. Some people are lucky enough to have a full separate office, but some are not. I’ve been helping a lot of people create little work spaces at home so they can have a place for work and a place for living. It’s been fun because you have to get pretty creative sometimes when, for example, you’re trying to make a work space in a living room because some people don’t have much space in their smaller home or apartment.


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

A: Two things come to mind. One is that I wish people would recognize that even though I do end up cleaning a space when I work there, that we’re not a cleaning service. I get asked that a lot, and while we have a really great referral to a cleaning service and luckily I can pass people along, we’re not there just to clean. I also wish more people knew that professional organizers exist. Professional organizing can help anybody, and I just wish more people knew that they could hire someone to help them with all the things that are stressing them. Professional organizers can come in with organizational systems so you don’t have to create one yourself. The professional organizing shows on Netflix have been great for general awareness of the field, but I wish it would become more mainstream to hire an organizer just like you might hire a cleaner or gardener. 


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

A: I think that if I wasn’t a professional organizer that I’d probably be in the mental health field. My degree is in psychology, so I’d probably do counseling or something like that. I’m a firm believer that professional organizing is really good for mental health anyway, so I don't think that the two professions are as different as they may seem.


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

A: I love Marie Kondo. She has a book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and she also has a Netflix show that’s really great for average people. The Home Edit is another great Netflix show, but it’s more for people with high end budgets looking to organize really high end spaces. Marie Kondo is great for teaching people how to be aware of their surroundings and what they own, and I think she gives great advice that can apply to anyone.

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