Back in the spring of 2020 as I set out on my creative journey as an interior designer and decorator, I found such an amazing community of female entrepreneurs and other independent creatives through Instagram and my day-to-day life. That spring, I decided to highlight my current friends and new Instagram friends that were running their own businesses in a weekly feature simply called “Feature Friday.”
I’ve always believed wholeheartedly that there is more than enough work (and clients) out there for all of us, so coming together in support of one another was integral to the success of my own business, as well as helping to support other women working to create their own dream.
As my business has grown in the last 2.5 years (officially; Bleu Bee Design’s 2nd birthday is next month) I wouldn’t be where I am without the support, guidance, encouragement and true friendships I’ve found in the creative community.
I’ve felt it long overdue to bring back a “Feature Friday” of sorts but in a more permanent and personalized manner – which brings me to (yet another new series) Creative Features.
This series will highlight the amazing women in my community of creatives, whether we serve the same type of client, offer the same service but in a variety of aesthetics, or simply inspiring to me as a solopreneur for a variety of reasons. I stand behind these ladies’ work, know their hearts, and would recommend them in an instant to anyone I know!
Today I want to feature Caroline Overstreet, owner (& organizer) at Overstreet Organizing. Based out of Jackson, Mississippi and serving clients virtually and in person across the country, Caroline’s passion for clearing away the clutter and stress within her client’s space allows them to live in a peaceful (organized) sanctuary.
Caroline and I connected through an organization called AMSE (Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs) and quickly came to realize we had much in common, from our love of heirlooms and antiques, anything French, our passion for making our homes beautiful and voila’ a Southern-sister friendship was born!
While chatting, Caroline and I realized that we often both work with clients who are working with inherited family pieces or mementos, and they’re struggling with how to make it either work in their home, keep it because it’s valuable or holds dear memories, or simply can’t bear the thought of it not staying in the family – all while realizing not everything we inherit will be something we can keep. Let’s dive in to the professional organizer’s POV on heirlooms and how best to store or utilize them.
Bee: “Where do we even start? How do you help a client get started with cleaning out precious pieces of their family story, items tied with so many memories to them?”
Caroline: “I begin with asking them to go through the items with a few lenses.
1. What’s the value to YOU? – is it meaningful to the owner, what value does it bring you?
2. Is this piece in good condition? If not, do you have the labor and resources to put into finishing it so that it’s in display / usable condition?
3. Do you have a place for it?
Bee: “Wow, so you’re giving these clients a thought process to deciding what to keep, and not forcing them to get rid of heirlooms. That’s great! So what can we do with all the things we just can’t keep but want to have a record of?”
Caroline: “I like to suggest a few ways of categorizing heirlooms, whether it’s recipes, photos, journals or jewelry. For albums, I suggest you either get an acid-free album to store photographs in or digitize them and file the actual photos away, discarding doubles or photos that you have no idea of (like 10 landscape photos of the same view), categorize by dates, locations or the people in them.
With jewelry, it’s best to purchase plastic bins or velvet lined boxes with dividers to keep items from getting tangled. If you have a story that accompanies a piece, whether your own or from a family member, write it on a piece of paper and tag it with the jewelry. And always, have an appraisal completed before you decide to toss or donate items. Appraisals should be done on art, jewelry, furniture or anything that looks well made and old!”
Bee: “So, here in the South – we tend to be a tad more upfront about death and heirlooms than other regions in the US. It’s just a fact of life for us! I know I’ve had conversations with my mother and grandmothers about what belongings of theirs I’d like to have one day. What do you suggest clients can do as they de-clutter and organize with you, to lessen the burden of death cleaning for their loved ones, eventually?”
Caroline: “A great thing to do is to go through those pieces you want someone to have and simply ask them if they want it. Then put it on a list (and in your will) – or give it to them for a special occasion so that you can see them enjoy it as you age. Give them the stories that accompany said pieces and write it down so they have a piece of you to pass along with it to their own (child, niece, etc.) one day.”
Bee: “These are all fabulous ideas Caroline! Tell us where people can find you, how to work with you and what types of services you offer.”
Caroline: “There are three ways to work with me: virtually, in-person locally, or travel organizing. Visit our website for a list of services I offer, and surprisingly a lot of people love the “DIY” of virtual organizing. It’s a 45 day consultation based service where I deliver a plan of action, suggested organizing products, and am on-call for any questions during those 45 days. I work a lot with busy families, small businesses that need their stockrooms organized as well as non-profits.”