Lauri Arnold understands that time is precious. As a professional organizer, she finds ways for her clients to maximize their time by making a few simple changes. StyleBlueprint recently featured her great ideas in our post about home stations.
What do you do for a living?
I am a professional organizer and own Optimal Surroundings LLC. I also stage homes for resale, help the elderly move into assisted living facilities and work with people who are downsizing.
When did you discover that you had a talent for this?
When my friends would ask me to help them organize their closets.
What made you take the step from organizing your friends closets to setting up your business?
I had done so many odd jobs from working in a design store to writing a book with our daughter. Nothing felt quite right. My children had moved on and I was anxious to create a business doing something I loved that would connect me intimately with people. I was driving home from Atlanta after working in a gift show with a friend, fully aware I didn’t want to do that again, when I saw a billboard with the word “Surroundings” on it. It was then I knew I would start a business called Optimal Surroundings doing exactly what I loved and felt I was meant to do. Under such a broad umbrella I knew I could organize a home, stage a home, decorate a home, help with decision making required to build a home, downsize a home and work with the elderly moving into assisted living. I could continue my love of writing with my newsletters and freelance work for local publications along with keeping a blog. If I wanted to concentrate solely on organizing, that was possible too. The rest was securing the name, getting the proper licenses, hiring an accountant, and setting up ways to promote myself. I have never been happier and a day doesn’t go by when I am not grateful for doing what I love and the privilege of working with such interesting people.
You say you are not a collector but an organizer. What is some advice for those of us like that?
I never like to talk my clients out of having things they really love around them. Collections can and need to be well organized and creatively displayed. It’s when they take over and spill into all your living spaces that they become a problem.
Did you ever have an “a-ha” moment about your personal time and how to use it wisely?
It is vital to practice the privilege we all have to say NO. We all need to take time for ourselves to feed our souls. I realized early on, the more I take on, the less I have of me to offer. I would much rather do three things well than six things just well enough to get by.
What are a few quick things we can do to find more time in our day?
Keep “like” items together so you don’t waste time searching for what you need to complete a project. For instance, keep ribbons, scissors, gift cards, tape, wrapping paper and packing supplies in one place so wrapping gifts is a pleasure, not such a chore. The same goes for paying bills and writing correspondence (yes, I’m still a real letter writer). Stamps, envelopes, unpaid bills, pens, and stationary need to be stored together.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
My mother taught me early on, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Very often we can have what we want in life if we are more considerate about how that request or statement is delivered.
What is best advice you have received in business?
Doing what you love will bring nothing but joy and a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I would love to design and decorate movie sets.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Despite being so organized, I almost always forget to pack something when we travel.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Right now it’s Relish. The salads and fresh ingredients are heavenly. And I love the atmosphere.
Where do you like to shop?
Locally, Glasscock Boutique, and I’m a Macy’s shopper for core pieces. I love the savings at Macy’s. For the accessories and special things, I shop out of town.
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
Facials at Skyn Lounge and massages.
What is your weakness?
Cookies: No Bake, Black and White, colorful Macarons.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends):
A new project, my iPhone and my Tilley hat to protect my skin
What are you reading right now?
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan on my iPad.
What are three of your “favorite” things right now:
Breaking Bad, Pinterest, and beautiful scarves from everywhere.
Thank you to Lauri for allowing us into our home and showing us tricks of her trade on how to organize and simplify our life. To contact Lauri, please see: www.optimalsurroundings.com.