Interview with clutter therapist Julieanne Steel
Find out how her interest in Feng Shui and interiors inspired Julieanne Steel to launch a career as a professional declutterer.
What’s your career background?
I began my working life aged 11 as a child actress after attending a full time theatre school in central London. It gave me the confidence to try a number of career paths, one out of necessity as being resourceful as a young actress is helpful whilst waiting around for castings and also because I’ve used many of the transferable skills gained from a performing arts background.
My Mum insisted I get a secretarial diploma as she wanted me to have an easy fall back option. It was great advice and I took a very old fashioned, traditional shorthand/typing course to work as a PA in the city. This gave me the opportunity to work in the media, I worked for Public Affairs at Lloyds of London and then into the Marketing department. Later taking temp positions working for Sky News and the US Weather Channel.
I diversified after having an accident (broke my back in a horse riding accident) and studied and qualified to be a reflexologist and complimentary therapist, using also Indian head massage and EFT.
My love of alternative therapies has introduced me to different ways of working with people, I am currently in training as an integrative counsellor which helps my work with my clutter clients. I am an accredited member of APDO, the professional association of declutters and organisers in the UK.
What happened after you became a mother?
I have three daughters (now aged 14, 19 and 21). I loved being a stay at home mum and this was my soul’s purpose during many of the years raising them.
I did work part time during some of that time however my focus was on their growing up. I’ve been fortunate to be able to refresh and update my skills to adapt to being a fulltime single mum, following divorce.
When did you get interested in ‘clutter’?
My early introduction to being a clutter therapist came from my interest in Feng Shui over 20 ago when a friend was training to be a Feng Shui consultant and it fascinated me, also my love for interiors.
After moving many times and renovating homes it all became part of making the home feel good. My home has always been very important to me and I believe it is the safe place that supports me and feels free of tension.
Energy and the understanding of how that flow operates in both our homes and our hearts I feel is key to a peaceful life.
Where did the idea to become a clutter therapist come from?
My idea for establishing my own clutter client base came accidently when a friend asked me to help her sort out a room in her home which was overflowing with stuff.
I had recently moved and felt liberated, parting with things that no longer served me and which were a burden. I joined APDO and started to attend workshops and conferences through the organisation and this is how it started.
How did you get started?
I designed and created my own website with a business therapist and gave some talks at Grand Designs and the Ideal home show, eventually client’s started to find me.
What’s your USP?
My USP is that I combine psychology and practical methods to help people remove the chaos from their lives, living more and owning less. Removing the burdens from overbearing commitments, obligations and physical clutter.
It’s in part, a talking therapy and a very personal at home experience to bring order to the very frantic lives that people sometimes create. I am experienced with working with hoarders and understanding the mental health disorder which is associates itself with this illness.
My business is shortly going to be linked with its own unique charity which will enable the clutter donated and the proceeds to directly help people with mental health issues.
Who is your ideal customer?
No one is immune to clutter, so my tribe are people who are drowning in stuff and would like to feel free, enabling them to have more time to focus on what really matters.
My clients are varied; I have worked with children as young as seven and a gentleman in his 90’s.
How do you promote your business?
I network with likeminded ladies, I have in the past attended You Inspire me events, I have an active website and regularly use social media to share posts. I am a member of APDO. I am currently being interviewed for several leading magazines, including Inspire, You Magazine, The Lady.
I believe networking with people who connect with your service is key. Lots of people use Instagram, as do I. It’s a great way to share information and I have found it to be successful, along with Facebook.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in building your business?
I think the biggest obstacle for me in my particular line of work is the early stage around mentoring the client to commit to start, this can be an anxious time particularly when working with people with hoarding issues.
The anxiety for these clients is enormous so being able to let someone into their home can be met with a lot of resistance.
And your proudest moment?
My proudest moment I think are the “small moments” and steps I see my clients take and how beneficial they feel as a result of their own decisions, not a singular proud moment but a collection of significant, personal achievements.
What drives you?
My work is my passion; it’s my personal experience of dealing with clutter that inspires me to share my guidance with others. I feel through my work I am able to act with social conscience and give back something helpful to others.
Everyone has a personal story which shapes their existence and future and undoubtedly a past which through self-enquiry helps to heal and promote healthy changes. Clearing mental space to embrace these changes is why I love my work as I see this take place in everybody I work with.
Who inspires you?
I have some lovely people in my life, in particular my friend and acupuncturist Sarah Matheson, my therapist Judy Hardgreaves.
I am inspired by reading about women who empower themselves and are successful doing what they love but staying true to themselves, Michelle Obama, Sheridan Smith, Emma Thompson.
My clients also inspire me as they overcome adversity, along with my children as they grow and navigate through a world changing at such a fast pace.
How do you make time for work?
I am organised with my time, I have little to maintain in the home, I make lists and I think self-care is non-negotiable in whichever format that takes for you.
Mine is quality sleep, mindfulness daily practice, walking with my dog and eating food that makes me feel good. I think eating breakfast together with the family/children is the best connection time.
What’s your top decluttering advice?
My advice is to begin your process slowly and deliberately at home. Examine your stuff and get an awareness of the daily routine you have and whether or not this is serving you or not.
Next, find a method of clearing clutter that you can apply to any part of your home. I use a unique set of steps to aid the process of letting things go.
This is really about you understanding your own consumptions habits first and what represents meaning and purpose in both your commitments and your obligations to maintain your home. Getting your own life and home in order is the platform to be able to share the benefits.
And if someone wants to become a professional declutterer?
Join APDO, the association of professional Organisers and Declutterers and attend some of their training days and conferences this helps to network with people who are already working at helping people and an insight into the work you might want to undertake.
Photo by Victoria Adamson Photography