Got a cupboard so crammed you can’t open the door without the contents falling at your feet? Got a house in need of decluttering for sale? Got an obsession with buying and hoarding? You could be in need of the services of a business which promises to get your home shipshape and Bristol in no time…
The clue was in her childhood past-time.
In a generation when five year olds were most likely to be seen playing with dollies and dressing up in fairy costumes, Nina Grand had taken to organising the foodstuff and cleaning products in her mother’s cupboards.
Speed forward some 35 years, and you have the back-story to Grand Organisers – Nina’s new business which sets out to help us all gain some order in our hectic lives.
Having grown up in London and entered a professional world as an examinations officer, Nina hit the big 4-0 and began to believe that her personality and her desk-based career were no longer a good fit.
She became convinced she was lacking physicality in her daily working world, and that she needed to do something which directly helped people – and which bore direct and clearly apparent results.
“Moving to Suffolk not long after I turned 40, and recognising a different attitude to life within myself, I knew I had to take a serious look at changing career…not just keep thinking about it and being disappointed with my daily commute back to London,” she says.
“I spent a lot of time on a self-discovery journey, reading plenty of books, going on courses and trying to explore what it was I felt compelled to do.
“At first, nothing was calling me – until I started to be more honest with myself about my personal passions.
“I knew that I’d always been one for order and organising, and that nothing really gave me more pleasure than sorting things out for people and cutting through chaos.”
It was then, after gathering some insight into services more widely available in the United States and Australia, that Nina, 43, realised that Professional Organisers were “an actual thing”.
“My research led me to some of the business services which were considered pretty ‘normal’ for home-owners or busy business people in other parts of the world,” she explains.
“A small following for the idea had started in the UK too, and about 12 months ago I stumbled upon the fact that there is an official body for people doing this work on a career-level.
“I gained an invaluable resource in APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) and it led me to deciding to launch Grand Organisers.”
From her home-based headquarters near Long Melford, Nina has already helped numerous cluttered and chaotic East Anglian home-owners, or those who are just ‘plain busy’ with all that life throws.
At one level she has been working with those whose family members have recently passed on, and therefore need assistance in clearing a house for sale; or those who have a ‘nightmare room’ which needs better organisation for children’s toys or family hobbies, or kitchen creativity.
Take it to the other extreme, however, and Nina has been helping those who can only be described as ‘chronic hoarders’.
This label is now perhaps better understood, in part thanks to television programmes which have documented the very real battle that some have with minimising their possessions and keeping them stored or ordered.
“Oh absolutely it’s a real thing – and perhaps more so than you might think,” says Nina.
“What’s sad is that over time, people have got more and more into difficulty as a result of their addiction to hoarding, but they’re too ashamed to reach out for help and ask for someone to support them getting back to normality in their own home.
“I suppose that’s where a professional declutterer like myself is a real asset – because we’re completely impartial, we don’t judge, and we can bear with that person for as long as it takes while they battle their way through delicate decisions about whether to throw this or that or the other away.”
It’s a scenario she is currently witnessing with a few clients in particular, who have battled with an addiction to buying and hoarding for many years.
She goes on: “I find it heart-breaking to recognise that some clients have felt incredibly alone with their issues for a number of years, before finding me via my website, reaching out, and finally discovering that they can slowly gain control again.
“Of course, it means that for me it can feel quite emotionally draining working with people like this for long periods, but at the same time, there’s no greater pleasure than seeing what a lift you’re bringing to someone’s mood, to their feelings about themselves, and to the motivation they have to keep going and get their life and home more ordered.”
As ‘new professions’ go, Nina admits it’s far from a conventional choice, and probably not one that anyone would have imagined discussing with a careers advisor when she was in school in the 1980s.
But, she says, it’s a perfect fit for her, and for her new chapter as a professional declutterer.
“I honestly couldn’t be happier with where this new phase of my life is taking me,” she says cheerily.
“I’m getting so much job satisfaction every day I set off to work, so no matter how tiring that can be at times, I’ll take that over a tedious office job any day!”.