“Don’t wait for things to be perfect, just start,” with Zoë Berry and Victoria McHugh
Back in February, I recorded this wonderful conversation with Zoë Berry and Victoria McHugh, who are both professional organisers here in Edinburgh. I think it was before any of us had even heard about the coronavirus – it feels a little bit like a lifetime ago. I hope you’re all able to enjoy this conversation, knowing the context it was recorded in. Stay safe, and if you can, stay home!
We talked a lot about organising and what it was like when Zoë and Victoria came to my home and office. But we also talked about marketing, including the best times to post in Facebook groups, and the Instagram phenomenon of tap to tidy.
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Zoë has been running Life Edit, a decluttering and home organisation business, for just over 2 years. Victoria launched The Secret Tidier in April 2019, she’s a professional organiser and declutterer. They met on a course for people who needed decluttering help. It was full of people looking terribly worried they were going to have to express their issues with clutter and confess their sins. Zoë looked across the room and saw an extremely organised looking young lady with all her pens, notepad and water bottle laid out nicely and thought, “yeah, you’re another professional.” They’ve been working together ever since.
What does a professional organiser do?
Marie Kondo has brought the world of decluttering and professional organising to the forefront of people’s knowledge recently, if you asked somebody about five years ago, what a declutterer did, they would scratch their head and look at you quizzically. Since Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying*, and Netflix show people have started to understand what Zoë and Victoria do – in a nutshell they help people organise their homes.
Of course, having somebody in your house going through your belongings can feel slightly overwhelming and it can make people feel a bit exposed or vulnerable. So every job starts with a free consultation with the client before the actual declutter. It could be a cupboard, a room, the garage or the whole house that the client wants to tackle. They have a very flexible approach, listen to the client and work to whatever they want. They are happy to take the client’s timeframe and budget into account.
Building a good with relationship with their client is important. As Zoë puts it, “The tiding is great, and the finished product is lovely, but actually going through that together can be really quite emotional.” Possessions can trigger a memory or a feeling, and part of the reason they work really well together is one of them can carry on in the background while the other person is just letting the client have a moment or work out where they want to go next.
Since Zoë and Victoria’s visit to my house if I just need a five-minute 10 minute break from the work I’m doing or I’m feeling a bit anxious and stressed then I tidy my desk. It’s very satisfying and it’s made a difference in my ability to work consistently. Before I would have gone and made a cup of tea or been distracted with something like Instagram Stories. Now I tidy and then I go back to work. It’s been helpful and I have a nice space.
“We are friendly and we’re not judgy. I think that people can worry. ‘Oh, gosh, a professional organiser. They’re going to come along with white gloves tut at everything and tell me that I’ve been doing everything wrong. That’s absolutely not how we are.” – Zoë Berry
Instagram and Facebook groups
I know word of mouth has been great for Zoë and Victoria, but I was keen to find out what other kind of marketing works for them.
When Zoë first started out, she paid for an editorial in MADE (Mums and Dads Edinburgh) magazine. They’ve featured in a few other publications just because of knowing the right people, for example ION magazine. They were also in the Herald luxury magazine recently. Apart from paying for that first editorial, neither of them has ever paid for marketing.
They make a conscious effort to ensure their online presence is as approachable as possible, mainly use Instagram and Facebook,
As they have 2 different businesses and personalities, they have different approaches to marketing online. Zoë likes to concentrate on showing who she is and connecting with people by saying “Look, I’m a real person.” Victoria likes to showcase before and after pictures to highlight how passionate she is about decluttering.
I think Tap to Tidy Instagram Stories would be fantastic use of before and after pictures. On Instagram Stories you tap to say you’re done, and it takes you to the next picture. Write text on the first picture saying “Tap to Tidy” then when it takes you to the next picture it looks like you’ve magically tidied it. A great way to engage people on Instagram Stories.
They have also found Facebook groups useful for marketing (although Victoria admits she doesn’t use Facebook much). Edinburgh Gossip Girls (EGG) is a group for women, who are often running their own businesses, and are very keen to do word of mouth recommendations. It gives you a little bit of credibility if a client recommends you in the group. They use other Facebook groups like West Lothian Woman and East Lothian Ladies. Joining the groups has been incredibly helpful for them. You can usually do a specific post about your business every month, as well.
The best time to post in Facebook Groups
They’ve discovered posting on a Sunday evening creates a huge amount of interest compared to doing it on say a Thursday morning. Having pictures also makes a huge difference. I think Sunday is such an opportune time for them to market because people are relaxing at home, maybe they’ve been meaning to declutter all weekend and haven’t got around to it. Zoë and Victoria are then offering a great solution.
When you’re thinking about the best time to post content on social media. Think about your ideal customer and what does a week in the life of your customer look like? Physically where are they in the world but also where are they emotionally? Where are they feeling? What can you do to help them resolve and find solutions to their problems?
Tips for running a business
Lastly, I asked them both the thing they would most like to share about running a business.
Zoë’s top tip – “You never know where you’re going to going to meet your next client. Katie’s a really good example of that. We went to her Business Gateway course because we wanted to learn about Instagram and she ended up becoming one of our clients. From my point of view, you have to live and breathe your business. If you are self employed, you never know where that next client is going to come from, always be ready to talk about it your business”.
Victoria’s top tip – “Don’t wait for things to be perfect, just start. I started small, put a few things on Instagram, practiced on family and friends, went to courses. Then I met someone that I now work with (Zoë) which has opened loads of business opportunities for me. You’ve just got to start somewhere and trust your gut.”
I could have chatted to Zoë and Victoria all day. If you want help with decluttering have a look at the Life Edit website and The Secret Tidier website, or conect with Zoë and Victoria on Instagram.
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