Meet today’s FACE of Birmingham, Amanda LeBlanc, professional organizer and owner of The Amandas. Amanda teaches her clients how to organize their busy lives by creating systems that work for every lifestyle and shows them how to make the most of the storage space they have, all in a stylish, yet functional way. Offering services at many levels, she can streamline and give structure to anyone, no matter where they are in the decluttering process. Her company is multi-leveled, includng The Amandas, on-site organizing services, The Clutter Prescription, a retail store in Vestavia’s Cahaba Village and an online store/virtual program and there’s even an app in iTunes. So no matter how you like to feed your need for organization, Amanda’s got you covered!
Where did you grow up? And what brought you to Birmingham?
I grew up in Louisiana, right outside of New Orleans. My family and I came to Birmingham in August of 2005 after losing our home in Katrina.
Tell us how you got started in organizing as a career and what led you to become a professional organizer in the first place.
I have always loved organizing. My talent comes naturally from my dad and my grandmother. When I started organizing professionally, I honestly had no idea anyone else was doing this. I had never heard of anything like a professional organizer. I was in sales, and though I was making great money, I was very unsatisfied. All I knew was that I loved organizing and I wanted to do what I love everyday for the rest of my life.
We all remember The Amandas. Tell us what it was like having your own tv show.
Hmm… Got a couple of hours!? Just kidding! It was the most amazing and the most stressful thing I have ever been involved in. They found me. I never pursued having my own reality show, it just happened. I think the hardest part is the misconception that reality TV is reality. There has to be a story. Reality TV has more moving parts than anyone knows, including over 160 hours of footage per episode that gets paired down to 45 minutes. That being said, I had a great time, I met amazing people, I was able to touch lives ALL over the world and I am forever changed and blessed by the experience. As for the future of Amanda on TV, well there are so many opportunities being presented and I’m just looking at what will be best for me and my family. Stay tuned!!
You are from New Orleans and saw first hand the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. How has that shaped your outlook?
It changed my life completely. We lost our home and everything we owned. I started my life over in Birmingham with a 2 month old, a 2 year old, 2 dogs and 2 suitcases. I guess the number 2 should be significant to me! I learned first hand what it was like to lose everything at one time. I learned how unimportant it is. I know that God asked me to walk through that tragedy so that I may better help others who are prisoners of their “stuff.” Life can change in an instant. What’s important are the people who live in your life and the memories you make with them. No matter what you THINK, it doesn’t matter what you have or how much you have. Once you understand that and let go of trying to impress others, your whole life changes.
Tell us about the charity work you are involved in.
I am a big believer that if you continually give you will continually receive. We donate time, material as well as financially to local church groups, schools, and charitable organizations. Many people come to us because of what we do and ask us to help a specific family or help with Habitat for Humanity, etc. I know I have been blessed and I’m always looking to give back, but I don’t do it for the recognition or to make a list of what I do. I do it when it needs to be done and for things I feel passionate about.
What do you love the most about organizing other people’s lives?
Everything! I love that I can help someone organize a pantry to lose weight, organize a master bedroom to help a husband and wife get along better or create a study space for a child with learning disabilities to help them excel and get excited about school. Organizing is only the means in which I get my foot in the door; the rest is part of God’s plan. Through Him, I help change lives. What an honor!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To make sure, in life, that you are always running towards something, not from something. I have seen many people run from something they don’t like or aren’t happy with and wind up in an even worse situation. It’s better not to run, but to figure out what you DO want and go get it!
What advice would you give to others?
God first, family second, and the rest will all fall into place.
My next piece of advice; you can’t always control what you have but you can always control how you take care of it.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Organize!! I know it sounds crazy but it’s very therapeutic to me. It’ s my Zen!
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
My room was very clean and simple. My parents are very neat and my mother never let us accumulate a lot of clutter.
Favorite local restaurant?
The Veranda. Their turtle soup is amazing and reminds me of home.
What are you listening to these days?
I have worn out the soundtrack from Nashville, but my 2 favorite songs would have to be Norah Jone’s “Come Away With Me” and Escala’s “Palladio,” which keeps me running at the end of a 2-mile jog!
What books are you currently reading?
Nice Companies Finish First by Peter Shankman
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
Hahaha, I could list 2 pages! I am one huge personality quirk!! I’m quite controlling, which is no surprise. I think people would be shocked to know that if you see me smelling my hair, I am seriously stressed and in major strategic mode. I have a serious phobia of cruise ships and ocean water. The thought of being on a ship and not being able to see land, well it has me nauseous and shaking just thinking about it!
If your house was on fire what’s the one non-living thing you would grab?
I’m going to have to break the rules and name 2 things. The first thing I would grab would be my family photos. We lost everything we owned in Katrina and the hardest thing to lose was our photos. The second thing is my grandmother’s watch. I lost my grandmother a year ago and I miss her like mad. I wear her watch almost everyday and I can’t imagine losing it.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God).
Thanks for sharing, Amanda! To learn more about Amanda and how she can help organize your clutter, check out her website at www.theamandas.com.
And a huge thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s fabulous photos!