Name: Mary Oneglia // Age: 42 // Location: Connecticut // Current Title: Owner, Ordinato, LLC
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Tell us a little bit about Ordinato. How did it get started and why are you passionate about it?
It was a bit of a long and winding journey for me in creating Ordinato. I started my career as a trial lawyer then after five years left the practice of law to stay home with my children. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I struggled with staying organized. Through that struggle I experimented with different organizational systems to see what worked and didn’t work for me.
At the same time, I got really into yoga and found that it helped me achieve balance and provided stress relief. Because I loved yoga so much, I decided to go to yoga teacher training. In that training, one of the many things I learned was the principle of non-attachment and the importance of decluttering your space to promote peace and order in your surroundings. I started applying this to my life and home and instantly felt much lighter. I also found I had more time to do the things I loved doing because I wasn’t constantly cleaning or decluttering my home. I realized that less stuff equaled more freedom. My friends started noticing my new found organizational skills and a friend who has a business background suggested I turn my organization obsession into a business. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I hired an amazing graphic designer who designed my logo and website, started an Instagram & Facebook account and began by helping my friends organize their homes for free. Then I advertised on a local parenting website, got my first “real” clients and the rest is history! I’ve been officially in business a little over a year now and I truly feel like this is what I was always meant to do. I absolutely love helping busy moms create peace and order out of what can be a very chaotic, exhausting and stressful time of life. I’ve been there during that feeling of overwhelm when you barely have time to shower, let alone organize or plan out your spaces. Helping set up organizational systems and style people’s homes can bring so much peace and completely change the energy in the household. When you organize one space, it usually leads to the next space and has a positive organizational domino effect. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the end result. I truly feel lucky to do this!
With running your own business, what does a typical day (or week) look like for you?
It totally depends! I generally work with one client at a time so will set aside a week (or longer) to work with that particular client. We work in 3 hours chunks of time and work around the client’s schedule. When I’m not at a client’s house organizing, I’m doing office work, planning Instagram posts and blog content, and networking with other organizers. Or I’m space planning and shopping for organizational supplies.
If you could give everyone one organization tip/takeaway, what would it be?
Before you do any organizing you must first edit your belongings. If you don’t love it and if it isn’t useful anymore, let it go. You need way less than you think. I adhere strictly to the “one in, one out” rule so before anything new comes into the house, I donate or sell something else to make room for the new item. I’ve never had a client tell me they missed the stuff they let go of. Inevitably, people feel lighter and less burdened when they simplify and reduce the amount of stuff in their homes. It can be an emotional process for many people and I respect that it’s not easy for everyone. Some people just need a little extra support or simply don’t have the time, which is where I come in!
On your website you mention you are a former trial lawyer and yoga teacher? What were those experiences like and how have they helped you in your current career path?
As a lawyer, I have an analytical mind and I’m inherently organized. However I’ve always had a creative side which I felt was stifled during my time practicing law. Through my training as a yoga teacher I experienced the positive impact decluttering has on your mind and body. I felt I had a unique set of skills that would allow me to help other people become more organized and happier in their own homes. This business gives me the opportunity to combine organizational skills with my creative side that loves beauty and good design.
How do you achieve work–life balance in your own life?
Wow, that is the million dollar question! To be honest it’s not easy — especially when you have small children. That’s a big reason why I created this business. I try to schedule “me” time into my schedule first. It may sound selfish but it’s really important to practice self-care. I don’t know that perfect work/life balance exists but I do know that self-care is extremely important, as a mom and as a businesswoman. We really need to prioritize it as women and we become happier and more productive as a result.
“I adhere strictly to the “one in, one out” rule so before anything new comes into the house, I donate or sell something else to make room for the new item.”
Do you have a specific project or accomplishment that you consider your most significant in your career?
I was recently awarded the Houzz best of service award for client satisfaction. Houzz is the leading home and design platform for homeowners and professionals to connect online and has over 40 million monthly users so it was a big honor! Honestly, every time I have a client say “thank you, this changed my life” or “my home runs so much smoother now”, it feels like the most significant accomplishment. If I can help someone get through an area where they were stuck and organize the space in a way that positively impacts their daily lives and saves time and money then it’s a huge win. There can be a lot of guilt and negative emotions associated with clutter and sometimes it just takes an outside person for that jumpstart they need to change their lives.
What tools do you implement into your day to help you stay productive and on–track?
Coffee! Just kidding but not really. 😃 I use Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner, my iPhone calendar and FreshBooks for all my accounting and invoicing. I love the Pomodoro app for productivity and always tell clients about it. It’s basically a timer app where you work in 20-45 minute increments until it prompts you to take a break. You can get so much done in small increments and it can be less tedoious and overwhelming to break things down to manageable chunks of time. Also, I’m obsessed with podcasts and listen to them constantly when I’m organizing.
What advice would you give to those who are struggling to find their passion in life?
Be patient. Not everyone is lucky enough to find their passion by age 18 (most don’t!) and it can sometimes take years to figure it out. I love how writer Elizabeth Gilbert says to “follow your curiosity” instead of following your passion. If you follow your curiosity and respect the journey, you’ll eventually end up finding your passion(s) and you’ll learn a ton and have fun along the way.
The second piece of advice is to just start. Imperfect action is so much better than waiting until everything is perfect. Perfection is an illusion. Those of us on Instagram can admit that those gorgeous photos are only part of the more messy reality.
What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a business owner?
Favorite part: Flexibility and being able to help bring peace and order to people’s busy lives.
Least favorite: Self promotion. I’m not a natural salesperson so find it difficult to promote or advertise my business. Luckily most of my clients come from word of mouth.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Devotions by Mary Oliver
- Remodelista by The Organized Home
- A Simplified Life by Emily Ley
- Real Life Organizing in Just 15 Minutes a Day by Cassandra Aarssen
“If you follow your curiosity and respect the journey, you’ll eventually end up finding your passion(s) and you’ll learn a ton and have fun along the way.”
Where/what is your happy place?
Maine. It’s where I grew up, where my entire family lives and it’s such a special and beautiful place with really kind and interesting people.
If you could have lunch with one women (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Wow, great question! I went to see Michelle Obama speak recently and was incredibly inspired by her message. She is the epitome of class, she’s intelligent, successful and has an incredibly optimistic and positive outlook on life.
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