Clutter means different things to different people. For some, a disorganized pantry or messy playroom is a minor inconvenience, easily fixed. But for others, it can be overwhelming, embarrassing and just plain exhausting to live with. No matter what level of clutter you’re experiencing, Laurie Martin and her team at Simplicity Organizers can help.
Laurie has been organizing professionally since 2006, and although she loves the satisfaction of corraling a pile of clutter into an array of neatly arranged containers, her favorite part of the job is helping others.
“When we only look at ourselves, we feel more depressed. If we can help other people and give back, that’s when you experience joy,” she says.
Her passion for giving back led to her founding a non-profit called Simplicity Serves, which provides complimentary organizing services to other non-profit organizations and families in crisis. And during the pandemic, she helped create a program called Box of Love that provided food to 500 families. The organization also gave kids items to entertain them during the lockdown: puzzles, games and sports equipment — anything to avoid having them look at screens all day.
Now as people are getting comfortable having people in their homes again, Laurie is busier than ever. And for those who prefer a more virtual route, Simplicity offers virtual organizing workshops on Wednesdays where attendees can learn tips, tricks and strategies to organize their homes.
As you can see, Laurie has a lot of irons in the fire. So how does she do it all? We asked her 20 questions to find out.
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher.
- What was your first job?
Bows, Bows, and More Bows was the first business I started in fourth grade with my friend Anna. Our business involved cutting strips of fabric with pinking shears and tying the individual strips of fabric to the slots in banana clips. The ’80s were well represented.
My first professional job was teaching at Trinity Episcopal School.
- How many jobs have you had, and about how long have you spent at each?
Trinity Episcopal School from 2001-2005.
Pursley-Dixon Architecture 2005
Living Simply 2006-2010 and then we rebranded and I purchased the company in 2010.
- How did you get into the business you’re in now?
Organizing does not come naturally to everyone but I have always found such a thrill from having my belongings in order since I was a little girl.
- How many years has it taken you to get to where you are today?
After graduating with a degree in child development and receiving my K-6 licensure, there was a quiet whisper of wanting to help people organize their homes, but that was an unheard-of profession in 2001. I moved to Charlotte in 2001, taught at TES for four years, took a break from teaching, worked briefly for Pursley-Dixon Architecture, moved out West for six months and then returned to Charlotte. I googled “professional organizer” late one night and discovered two companies in Charlotte. Carson Tate, with Living Simply, responded right away and asked me to meet her at Caribou on Fairview. She hired me the same day and I ended up working with her for two years before she asked me to run her company. By 2009 she was ready to sell her company. We rebranded to Simplicity and soon after I happily purchased it in 2010!
- What’s the best advice you ever got? And from whom?
“Be intentional about creating margins in life.” — Betsy Blair
“When we listen to the whispers and let go in faith, God sends us who we need.” — Kathy Izard.
- What advice would YOU give?
Unplug from technology as much as possible so that you can be fully present with yourself and with your family.
When we have space to recharge, we have space to think, pray, plan, and give thanks for the small things in our life.
You will never regret slowing down.
Let go of the unnecessary in order to focus on what matters most. This is the tagline and mission for our company.
Remember that stuff is just stuff. It is the relationships and the experiences where you will experience purpose and meaning.
- What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m a hard worker and do not give up easily. However, there was nothing I could do to create a baby that I so longed for. Three IVFs. Three miscarriages. Three years of waiting. It was a beautiful reminder of how much we cannot control in life. This waiting period forced me to slow down, reclaim my faith, and remember God is faithful. And we were blessed with three naturally born, healthy babies all in the following five years.
- How do you start and/or end your workday every day?
I start my workday by reviewing my schedule and to-do list for the day.
I end the day by reviewing my schedule for the next day and re-writing and prioritizing my to-do list.
As a family, we follow Tidy 10. Every night after dinner we spend 10 minutes picking up the house and putting our belongings back away. It is a great feeling to start the day with everything in its place.
- What’s the highlight of your business?
Helping others declutter their homes, which ultimately creates space in their lives to focus on what matters most.
Giving back. Joy is found when we spend our time helping others, especially those going through a hard time in life.
- What’s been the low point of your journey?
Furloughing all my employees during the pandemic and not knowing if and when we would go back into homes. The unknown is never easy.
- What’s the best (in-person or virtual) local networking option?
I highly recommend the free communication class that Christ Church offers — The Space Between Us.
- How can women support one another professionally, either as coworkers or peers in similar positions?
Reaching out to other local business owners and asking specifically for one way you can help support them. I’m constantly looking for ways to connect with others. Empowering others and reminding them that they are loved is what brings me joy.
- What pandemic change in your business will you keep going forward?
Our virtual Wednesday Workshops. We will also continue to give back and serve other nonprofits in need through our Simplicity Serves program.
- What else do you want others to know about yourself, your company or your journey?
There are things we can control, but there are so many things we can’t control.
Because I’m an organizer does not mean everything in my life is perfect or my home is always perfect. We are a family and we embrace the messes of daily life. Organizing is not about perfection. Organizing is about creating systems that work for you. Don’t let social media pictures of perfectly organized spaces fool you. They are a snapshot, not a reality.
- Where’s your favorite place to meet for a working coffee or drinks?
I’ve had so many wonderful conversations and connections at Panera.
- Where’s your favorite place to go to dinner (and what do you order?
Bricktops. Fish tacos with kale and quinoa Salad.
- For workwear: Dress or pants?
- What’s your daytime drink of choice: coffee, Diet Coke, etc.?
Water. I think the last time I had a soft drink was in college.
- (Pre-pandemic or if you had your way!) WFH or head into the office?
I’ve always worked from home since I started running Simplicity so I don’t know any different.
When does this busy lady see herself hanging it up for good and retiring? Possibly never.
“I will always carve out time for vacations and breaks from everyday life, but I look at what I do as a calling, so I do not see myself ever retiring from what I love to do,” Laurie says.
She does, however, make a point to spend 24 hours by herself every month.
“This time alone gives me space to think, pray, reflect, catch up and plan for the future,” Laurie says. “Walk Gently Farm has just started hosting MeRetreats that are fantastic.”
She leaves us with some advice from her father-in-law Joe Martin: “Get up, go to the ball park and do your very best.”
“Each day is a new day,” Laurie says. “We often can’t control our circumstances, but we can control our attitude. We were never promised an easy life, but we have the choice to determine the outcome of each day.”