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Meet Deb Stone and Deb Bernier of ShipShape Organize

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deb Stone and Deb Bernier.

ShipShape Organize Boston started their business after Deb Stone lived what she now preaches – a much simpler life for two years. Deb’s husband and 3 daughters (ages 5, 8 and 10 at the time) packed a few suitcases and essential items (primarily a large med kit) and sailed in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean as far as Turkey and back to Maine. Deb says, “Life was incredibly simple and it was freeing!” They lived aboard a 61’ boat, and as you can imagine there was not a lot of room for clothes, toys or any non-essentials.

Deb and Deb often speak to groups from young Mothers to seniors and they find a common complaint is people are overwhelmed with clutter. It gets into people’s homes like pollen at this time of year and just waits to be cleaned up. It’s invasive. The word “Clutter” is gracing every magazine headline to newspapers.

Well, the media is on to something and so are Deb Stone and Deb Bernier. They have also picked up on clients stress levels associated with having too much stuff. Deb and Deb (sometimes self-referred to as “the Debs”) started a business called ShipShape Organize LLC addressing the residential needs of clients around the greater Boston and metro-North area. ShipShape Organize provides hands-on assistance with residential and home office organizing, reducing clutter, downsizing or organizing and managing a move. They provide advice to help their clients’ sort through belongings and determine what to donate, what to keep, and what to recycle. The Debs are members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).

Their clients are not alone with their feeling of “too much stuff”. Deb Bernier states, “My business partner and I are not minimalists, but we do hate clutter. And, the feelings that clutter causes; the sense of being overwhelmed, late for appointments, extra charges on overdue bills, and the list goes on and on”. Many of their clients come face to face with the challenge of clutter when they are preparing their home for market. An overcrowded home screams no storage space, so ShipShape Organize is often called in to help their clients manage the daunting task of moving.

Deb Stone states, “When working with our clients, we often tell them give yourself permission to let go. If Aunt Jane gave you the set of china that is sitting in your basement, that was not the intention of the gift. She gave it to you for you to enjoy it and use it. And guilt should not get in your way of letting it go.” Americans hold onto items for all sorts of reasons, but their clients typical response as to why they don’t let go is guilt; “I may need it someday”; or “I paid a lot of money for that.”

One of their clients said, “You are the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I walk into the space you organized, I feel a sense of peace and control”. Another sent an email recently saying, “I feel so much lighter.” When asked, “why do you do what you do” it’s comments like these that keep ShipShape Organize doing what they do best – fighting the battle against clutter.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Our biggest challenge has been working “on the business” not “in the business”. We find that when we have a consultation, there is a bond that is formed, and we want to continue to work with that particular client versus sending someone new in to assist. We feel a personal connection to each and every client, yet there is only so much time in a day, and if you are working in a client’s home, then the marketing and sales are not being dealt with. However, we do find referrals are a great lead source for us. It’s just finding that balance of working out of the office, combined with everything it takes to run a business that is waiting for us “in the office”.

ShipShape Organize LLC – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in residential organizing and move management. We are preferred vendors of Brooksby Village in Peabody and the exclusive move managers for all their residents that are coming in from out-of-state, so we have had lots of experience with helping seniors unpack and settle in.

We are known for our compassion and non-judgmental attitude. Our clients know and trust us. After organizing a home office, one of my clients said semi-jokingly, “you know more than my lawyer, doctor, sons and wife”. I don’t even let the cleaning woman clean my office. It’s that type of trust that we earn with our clients.

What sets us apart from many other organizers and move managers, is that one of us likes to be on the job. We don’t send someone else out for a consultation, and then confuse the client by having someone else show up to do the work.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
We have proud moments all the time. Each time a client sings our praises at the end of a job is all the reward we need. Comments like I couldn’t have done it without you, you are angels and on and on……that is what gives us a profound sense of satisfaction.

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