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The Story of Us (or how we became declutterers and what we love about it)

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

We are often asked how we met, and how we came to be declutterers. So for this weeks blog I thought I would write “the story of New Leaves”!

Otherwise known as Sue and Claire, we first met around 2007 when our children were at preschool. Both of us had only fairly recently moved to the Cotswolds, Sue from Surrey and myself from Singapore.

Before too long, circumstances led to us both working at the preschool and eventually, to us job sharing the role of leader. For both of us this was a somewhat unplanned career move, and I think we both initially thought it was temporary, but we ended up being there for 8 years!

During that time we became firm friends. As a small village preschool we only ever had a maximum of 12 children in a room probably only around 12 feet wide so in that very close environment we pretty much had to get along but we discovered a shared sense of humour, many things in common, and a joint love of tea!

We really had fun working together, the preschool was a lovely environment in a beautiful rural setting and we really enjoyed getting to know the families and children who came to us. We think they liked all the different activities we offered such as forest school, cooking, lots of messy play, singing and story telling and even yoga. At times it was hard work but we also have some great memories of that time.

We would often chat about what we might do after we finished at the preschool. Both of us had children who were growing up and would be moving on to secondary school and we decided that would be a good opportunity to do something else and we also wanted to work together, but we weren’t sure exactly what.

We both have complementary but different experiences – Sue had spent many years working in business and then running her own successful business as a PA to senior execs. I had previously worked in business as an HR manager and then during my time in Singapore had worked as a doula supporting women through childbirth. We had both done additional training, Sue in coaching and myself as a hypnotherapist. However it was a bit tricky to see what business those skills could all be applied to.

And then something happened which led to that “a ha” moment. Sue’s uncle sadly passed away, and after he died her family took on the job of sorting out his house and belongings. Unbeknown to them, this gentleman had been something of a hoarder and so the job turned out to be somewhat more complex than they had first thought. Sue and I offered to help, and the rest is history – it rapidly dawned on us that this was a really valuable service we could offer, and that we were good at it!

From there we developed our idea of a business helping people with their decluttering, organising and sorting problems. It soon became apparent that people need help with these problems at different stages of their lives – not only after bereavements, but also when moving house, downsizing, when older children leave home, when babies arrive, following divorce or separation, when lifestyles change…or just anytime when life gets in the way and it all gets too much to cope with.

And so now we find ourselves five years on from the launch of New Leaves and still very much enjoying it. We work with a wide range of clients from all sorts of different backgrounds and with a wide variety of circumstances, so no two days are ever alike.

We have sorted and organised kitchen cupboards, garages, sheds, lofts, bedrooms, sitting rooms, family rooms, home offices and more.

We have upcycled, recycled, and helped sell or auction our clients unwanted belongings and taken more carloads than we can count to the charity shop.

We have helped people sell their homes, pack, unpack, and even relocate overseas.

We have helped clients who live in one bedroomed flats and clients who live in enormous Cotswolds mansions.

We have gone through people’s entire wardrobes, shoes, jewellery and accessories. We have helped people sort out their paperwork, filing, internet access, bills, and even their wills.

We have produced mood boards, organised decorators, carpenters, carpet fitters and electricians, found gardeners, cleaners and dog groomers.

We have hung pictures, rearranged furniture, put up Christmas decorations, unpacked shopping, and have even been known to build flat pack furniture!

Our motto is if it needs sorting, we are happy to help.

Probably our favourite part of the job is seeing our clients faces at the end of a hard day’s decluttering. It almost feels like waving a magic wand. Our clients often tell us that they have been feeling overwhelmed by all their clutter and that once it starts to be sorted, they feel so much better in many ways – more clear headed, focussed, and productive.

And even after working together for nearly 13 years (eeek!) we still get along. My husband jokes that Sue and I could be locked together in a dungeon for 20 years and still come out chatting. I don’t think he’s wrong!

Many declutterers and home stagers work alone, but we firmly believe that the fact we work as a pair is our “unique selling point”. Yes two pairs of hands do get more done, but we also find that there is a kind of synergy between us, we are able to share and build on each others ideas, and find that in our case one plus one definitely equals more than two.

We genuinely enjoy what we do and we hope our clients enjoy working with us too. Many of them invite us back time and time again so it seems that they do!

Sadly like many other businesses we have had to put things temporarily on hold due to the Coronavirus crisis. We are monitoring the situation carefully and hope that it won’t be long before we are able to start seeing clients in their homes again and getting on with what we do best.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about the “story of us” - in the meantime we are happy to offer online consultations, or if you would just like to have a chat with us about your future needs do let us know, we would love to hear from you.

Best wishes

Claire (and Sue) x

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