Creative

Creative People in Business: Kaylee Whitworth

 

I have always been a minimalist who enjoys organizing my surrounded environment to create balanced, functional and sophisticated space. I know that my lifestyle, neatness, and need for everything to be well organized played a strong role in my growing success as a headshot photographer.

When I first moved to the US, I was in a culture shock from how much stuff people had (especially clothes!). I witnessed closets breaking apart, garages that were filled from floor to ceiling without any room for a car,  and hundreds of pillows on couches and beds...

I met Kaylee at a Wealth Entrepreneurs Event and learned that she is a professional organizer and owner of CLOSETED. I was very interested to find out how she transformed her lifestyle into an exciting business. We live in a heavily consumerist era. It is so easy to become a slave of materialism, and to get trapped in the disorganization of everything that you didn’t need in first place.

Here’s what Kaylee says in her bio:

“I was interested in interior design because I loved the idea of curating an inviting environment for a family to come home to.  But after being in dozens of beautiful homes and seeing inside their messy private areas it felt like a sham.  How could an individual feel relaxed when their closet, home office or bathroom cupboards were in complete disarray?"  

Kaylee’s business philosophy resonates with my lifestyle and I can’t wait to share this interview so you can benefit from having less clutter and more room for creativity.  I’m thankful that Kaylee found time to stop by my portrait studio for my Creative People in Business project and share her knowledge of organizing.

©   2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

© 2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

Time you wake up: Between 5-6 A.M. 

Morning routine: Shower, make-up, cook breakfast while I empty the dishwasher, eat, brush teeth, style hair, get dressed. 

Best habit: Meal planning.  I always recipe search, shop and cook ahead of time so when it comes time to make breakfast or pack lunch I always have options to choose from.  I make healthy food choices and never skip a meal which allows me to stay on my A game.

Worst habit: Worrying.  On some level I know my clients appreciate that I worry about things so they don't have to but spending time worrying doesn't change an outcome.  I know I'm capable of handling problems big and small so someday I'd like to evolve out of the worry-about-it step.

Personal philosophy: Be kind, do the right thing.  Being nice to people is free AND easy.  People who choose to have a bad attitude waste a lot of time and energy and that is not a way that I want to spend those precious resources.  I find that I can diffuse difficult situations with a vendor or installer by staying calm, respectful and friendly.

Book you are reading now: I just started The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan.  I like to switch between novels and informative literature rooted in subjects like organizing, nutrition and personal growth.

Most used apps: I am not a big app downloader but I use Uber and Lyft a fair amount as well as Pandora and Whole Foods.

What you do before going to bed: Wash my face, brush my teeth and pack any items I will use the next day at work.
Time you go to sleep: 10 P.M.

How and why did you decide to pursue a career as a professional organizer?

My degree is in interior design and I was working for a designer (turned friend/mentor) who handed me my first organizing job because he noticed I was good at it.  I organized as a side job for several years and then my husband pushed me to make it a full time business.

From your experience, what areas of people’s homes most need help with decluttering?

It's really different for every home but I like to start with smaller areas because usually once a client sees how much we can accomplish together they feel excited about moving on to larger areas. 

Whether it’s donating, gifting, or trashing, how do you help your client let go of their clutter? 

Some clients are extremely mentally ready to purge their homes, they just need a little hand holding and someone to validate that their instincts are correct, for these people my advice is to trust yourself.  Others need to really talk through each item, with these clients I ask them a lot of questions about why they feel the need to hold onto specific items or an excessive amount of stuff in general.  I never make anyone give anything up but I will make strong suggestions.  If we are sorting a lot of sentimental items I ask clients to share their memories with me, sometimes re-living a memory about an object is enough to make you feel ready to set it free.  My clients see that I am passionate about what I do so they learn to trust that I have their best interested at heart.

What is your advice for shopping while avoiding becoming trapped in a heavily consumerist society?

We are already trapped in a heavily consumerist society.  I try to remind people that shopping is fun but it becomes not fun when you have no where to put the things you buy and/or you can't find things you know you purchased.  That's a sure sign you have a problem.  I think being more aware of what you are buying (online and in stores) is part of the process, the other part is to always be thinking of what you don't need anymore.  I have a "donation box" in all of my clients homes, as soon as you realize you don't need something you throw it in the donation box, when the donation box is full you seal it up, put it in your car and take it to be donated, then you start another donation box.  

In a shared environment, how do you compromise and maximize space for roommates or a whole family?

I try to use wall space as much as possible to get things off the floor and I also like using furniture that can double as storage.

Very often, highly organized people marry partners who are okay living in an overwhelming mess. How would you approach the conversation about decluttering and inspire a “messy” person to see the benefits of being organized? 

Sometimes couples use me as a wedge, they want me to help gang up on their spouse and shame them into an organized lifestyle, I don't go in for that type of thing.  Itry to develop a bond with each family member and that means asking everyone about their goals for the space.  Knowing that I have multiple interests at heart makes clients more amenable to hearing my ideas and doing the work to clear their space and make room for a plan that encompasses everyone's goals. 

What storage solution is “a must” to stay organized in the long run?

Files are a non-negotiable.  If you are an adult person you need a way to manage your paperwork (I created my personal filing system at age 11.)  Some of my clients run a business out of their residence, they are probably going to need a tall file cabinet or a chest of drawers dedicated to files. For clients like home makers I can get away with smaller solutions but when you consider the paperwork you need to run a house (insurance, taxes, each family member's medical/school records just to start) it adds up fast and if you want an organized home you need a system for paperwork.

The other thing I do for almost every client is to organize their bathroom products in clear plastic shoe boxes.  I sort like items then I label each box so when you cut yourself all you have to do is grab the first aid box and your band aids will be right there or if you are going on a trip then you pull the box that says travel toiletries and anything you may need is at your fingertips.

What is your best advice for overworked business people trying to stay organized?

Hire me!  Organizing is not a magic bullet, it's work and at some point something's got to give and if you spend so much time working that you have very little time for organization then it might be time to admit to yourself that organizing is not your favorite thing and it's worth it to you to hire someone to help.  For my clients that go through the initial organization process and still have trouble taking time to stay organized I offer "touch-up" sessions which usually happen quarterly.

 I know you love to organize, but I am sure you feel overwhelmed after a work day decluttering for your clients. How do you recharge?

I love to cook.  If I feel too tired to cook an entire meal then I just prep my next meal and when I go to make it the next day my job is much easier.  If I am feeling very overwhelmed I will organize something small like the fridge or my desk.  That small achievement helps me clear my head and prepare myself for the bigger achievements that await me in the near future.

What daily habits allow you to stay organized?

Always unpack as soon as you get home.  If it's your gym bag, purse, groceries, the clothes you bought online and received at work, unpack everything right away.  If you spend a little time picking up after yourself daily you save a lot of time in the long run because you have less picking up to do and you don't spend time trying to find things you failed to put away.

Contact Information:

Website: closeted.net   

E-mail: kaylee@closeted.net    

Phone: 415.235.1253

Creative People in Business: Daniel Perez

I was introduced to Daniel at the Grand Opening of Dr. Chow’s Surgical Clinic in San Francisco. He kindly showed me around and explained the architectural details and the challenges involved in this project. I have always been interested in architecture and interior design, so I found the conversations very exciting. Daniel’s open minded and easygoing personality allowed us to become friends. I have visited a few more grand openings of his projects and feel very proud of his hard work. I would like to introduce Daniel to you and share an interview for the Creative People in Business Project.  

©   2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

© 2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

Time you wake up: 6:00 am

Morning routine: My alarm is set to classical music so that I can wake in a peaceful mood. I shower, eat breakfast, and comb NYT, WAPO, Politico, and the Guardian to see what is happening around the world.

Best habit: Swimming and yoga

Worst habit: Drinking a lot of beer at my weekly softball game.

Personal philosophy: Live each day to the fullest and do to others as would have them do to you.

Book you are reading now: We are Pirates by Daniel Handler

Most used apps: NYT, KCRW, NextBus, & Uber

What you do before going to bed: Brush my teeth, floss, pray, and try to count my blessings.
Time you go to sleep: Usually 11:00 pm but sometimes later.

 

 

 

How and why did you decide to pursue an architecture career?

I was one of those kids that knew I wanted to be an architect since I was seven years old. I used to draw house floor plans and elevations for my sister’s girlfriends that I had crushes on. At the age of 10 my family briefly moved to Illinois. I recall going on a tour of the John Deere headquarters designed by Eero Saarinen and being in awe of the building. I didn’t know anything about Saarinen at the time but I recall thinking about how beautiful the building and the landscaping was. On television shows that I watched as a kid Mike Brady of the Brady Bunch and Elyse Keaton in Family Ties were architects.  The architecture storylines on these shows weren’t particularly inspiring but it made me think this is a profession I could really pursue. I took a drafting class in high school and then applied to the architecture program at Arizona State University.

What are the biggest challenges in the architecture profession and how did you overcome them?

The path to becoming an architect is a very long road. There are the educational requirements; I spent five years at Arizona State University earning an undergraduate degree and another two years at Berkeley earning a Master’s degree. Three years of apprenticing under a licensed architect are required before you can begin to take the licensing exams to become a registered architect. At the time I took the exams there were nine exams plus an oral exam here in California. I passed five of the nine exams in my first sitting but it took me a number of years to complete the remaining exams. I have been a registered architect for sixteen years.  Along the way, there have been personal challenges like physics or structures classes I found difficult or taking exams three times to pass. I overcame these challenges by learning from my mistakes and failures. My undergraduate physics classes at ASU had 500 students.  I decided to look for class sections that were smaller in size and where more individual attention was available. I took calculus classes as a summer class at a community college in Idaho with twenty-five students and got straight “A’s”.  For exams that I was having difficulty with I took seminars or looked for tutors to learn the material.  I learned that if at first, you don’t succeed look for ways in which you can succeed.

In your opinion, what does it takes to become a successful architect?

Architecture is called a noble profession but it takes more than passion to succeed. Education is certainly an important aspect of learning to become an architect but schools do not teach everything that is necessary to become a qualified professional. Many architectural programs are heavily design-oriented. Design is important but there are so many other aspects of the profession that are important for preparation to practice. Some schools are more well versed in providing more well-rounded learning.  Learning about building codes, construction law, marketing, contacts, business, and communication are also important, especially for someone considering being a sole-practitioner. Some of these skills can be acquired in the workplace and this is where it becomes important for an individual to determine the best workplace for themselves.  This is certainly where mentorship becomes important. The profession has a long history of apprenticeship and this is where individuals can become successful by finding good mentors.  When I completed my undergraduate degree I moved to New York City. I decided that I would work for three years before continuing with a Master’s degree. I worked for small firms, medium-sized firms, and for a large corporate firm. I decided that for me I liked working for a small and medium-size firm because it allowed me to wear more hats. Ultimately this is what gave me the confidence to start my own business. The work hours are long in the architectural profession so having a personality that enjoys doing what you do is useful. It is also useful to have a personality that can strike a balance in professional and personal life. As with anything in life, a little bit of good luck never hurts. I consider myself lucky for finding a profession I enjoy.

What motivates you and keeps you to stay active running a business?

I love learning and this is my overarching motivation for running a business.  I didn’t know everything I needed to know to run a business when I first started so a dose of naiveté  was also useful. Every year I have learnedand continue to learn about something new.  Whether it is marketing, bookkeeping, invoicing, or employee management there is always something new to learn. I don’t necessarily enjoy every aspect of running a business but this is where you can hire someone that is equipped and enjoys doing those tasks. Being a member of the American Institute of Architects requires that continuing education units are fulfilled on a yearly basis.  This is an opportunity to continue to learn about emerging technologies, best practices, materials, etc.  The profession of architecture continues to evolve so as a business owner I need to continue learning.

What habits do you need to create to be able to deal with high stress?

Architecture is about solving design problems from a multi-faceted approach. I have adopted this idea of problem-solving to life in general.  I analyze what is causing the problem or stress and then determine what are plausible solutions for resolving the problem or mitigating the stress. I have found physical exercise extremely useful in dealing with stress. I find working out at the gym as therapeutic and while it may not directly resolve stress, it helps me to better cope with a stressful situation.

Risk taking to improve your career: any secrets you would like to share on how to deal with fear and insecurities taking risks?

I survived the biggest recession since the great depression as a sole-practitioner and I give myself a pat on the back for that. My office has been in operation for nearly eleven years. When I started my office I had a thought that if I had to go back and work for someone after running my own ship that I would make a better employee.  Being a sole-practitioner has given me better insight in the risks businesses take to stay in business. I find the problem-solving approach I mentioned earlier in dealing with fear and insecurities in taking a risk. In think the best approach in dealing with fear and insecurities is to take them head on.

Talk about your mentor, current or past, and how they affected your life?

My father is one of my first mentors. He began immigrating to this country when he was eighteen years old without knowing a word of English. He taught me through his words and actions that if you put your mind to something you can and will succeed. Throughout my education and in the work place I have had mentors that have guided me along the way. Architecture has a strong history of mentorship in the profession. I have had many mentors and continue to seek mentors in my life and to also be a mentor. I am a committee member for the AIA SF Mentorship program and was co-chair of the committee for two years. This program groups 5-7 professionals at all stages of their careers to meet over the course of a year for dialogue and professional exchange.

How do you balance your personal life and career?

This is a daily challenge and admittedly I have been better at it sometimes and not so good at it at other times. This is where I have to remind myself to live each day to its fullest. It is a work in progress and I have to say this year I am having better success in striking that balance.

Your way to “recharge” after a busy work week?

I go for a swim on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon. I also enjoy hanging out with friends and getting some form of exercise.

What advice would you give for those who want to pursue a career in architecture?

I was recently asked this question by the parents of a young man while I was on vacation on the Galapagos Islands.  His parents were concerned about his ability to support himself financially as an architect. I told him that architecture is not one of the highest paying professions but if he really loved architecture, had a passion for it, and liked working really had then he should pursue it. I also advised him to make good friends with people studying business, law, and computer science. These folks will be his future clients.

Best advice you ever received?

It is an oldie but a goody. If at first you don’t succeed then try, try again.

Contact Information:

Website: http://www.studioperez.com/

E-mail: dperez@studioperez.com

Phone: 415-503-0329

Creative People in Business: Valentina Sadiul

Welcome to my new series, “Creative People in Business.” This project is inspired by people I have met on my career journey whose talent, dedication and work is often hidden away from spotlight. We all want be successful, but usually we don’t want to see what’s underneath the glamorous facade that we celebrate. This series will concentrate on the hard work, habits, goals, sacrifices and failures that each of these talented people faced to reach the top of their “mountains.”

I am a professional portrait photographer who specializes in headshot photography. My career choice was motivated by the opportunity to meet people, build friendships, and have flexible working hours. My goal was to be present with my family and friends when they needed me. Is it easy to build a career in headshot photography? No, but I love it every aspect of it on a creative, social and business level. My work gives me joy every day and I am feel rewarded each time my photography brings my clients the success and respect they deserve.

©   2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

© 2016 Valentina Sadiul Photography

 

Time I wake up: 7 A.M.
Morning routine: My morning starts with small meditation on gratitude. Then, I shower, make coffee, and prepare my breakfast. I make sure to take both my vitamins and supplements. While I drink coffee, I write some ideas and thoughts in my journal. Once I check my daily agenda, my work begins.
Best habit: I run two to three times a week.
Worst habit: Very often, I catch myself multitasking instead of limiting myself to a single assignment.
Philosophy: Don’t compare yourself and your life to others; be thankful for who you are and what you have.

Book I am reading now: I tend to read two or four books at the same time . Currently, I am completely occupied with Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

Most used apps: Skype, Blinkist and Productive
What I do before going to bed: Read a book.
What time I go to sleep: Around 11 P.M.

 

 

I’ve been attracted to the study of success, confidence and positive habits since I was 16 years old. I did not have positive role models in my home environment, so I started to look outside my comfort zone. I was in search of a “different life” that did not resemble my family’s patterns. I decided that success meant constantly improving the quality of my life regardless of my financial, social, or relationship status. Life really feels empowering when you stop comparing yourself, your skills, and your status to other people.

As a portrait photographer and creative individual, it took me time to develop my own brand, style, and professional values. I now believe every day is an investment in your health, happiness, and friendships. A dedication to your goals and habits brings rewards to your career.

We are humans, and all aspects of our life are interconnected: my headshot photography business is not exception to that rule. I have noticed how my personal challenges affects my state of mind and distracts me. I am aware that overbooking photoshoots will impact my friendships. There will be always sacrifices, but self-compassion and smart prioritization allows you to return to balance and move forward.

I am very excited to introduce my project, “Creative People in Business,”  and share interviews of successful professionals and their journeys. Please enjoy!