In this episode, we talk with Angela about how she provides organizing solutions to both homeowners as well as business owners. My favorite part of her business is that she will help homeowners move! We all know how much we love moving. ; ) Angela will help you pack up your home so that when you go to unpack everything can be easily organized in your new home from day 1! We also discuss Angela’s desire to be a business owner, where that came from, and what it was like running a business during the pandemic. Leave a comment with the one room you have been wanting to get organized.
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Angela Fuhler | Suncoast Organizing Solutions
I started this show because I’m extremely passionate about connecting you with the people in the local businesses that make Palm Harbor so special. Palm Harbor, Florida, is a great place to call home. It has everything you could dream of, from the food, the outdoors, the lifestyle to the people in the community. Through this show and Instagram, I’ve been able to make some incredible connections. I want to invite you to follow me on Instagram, @Donny.Hathaway, where I share all the best places to live, work, and play in beautiful Palm Harbor.
In this episode, we have another great guest with us, Angela Fuhler, who is the Owner and Founder of Suncoast Organizing Solutions. They specialize in working with either businesses or homeowners in the Tampa Bay area by providing solutions to organizing your home, different systems, workflows, living spaces, and office. They also manage the coordination of moving. If you’re selling your home, you can reach out to Angela and she will help you pack up boxes. That way, it’s organized for when you move into your home, and when you first move in, everything is organized and has a home from day one. I’m super excited to learn more about her process, her business, and her process. Let’s jump right into it.
Welcome, Angela. I want to say thank you for taking the time to join us here on the show.
Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to speak with you, too.
You own an organizing business, Suncoast Organizing Solutions. I want to start there and tell everyone about what you do and what Suncoast Organizing Solutions is all about.
I focus on residential organizing, business organizing, and also move management. With residential organizing, I’ll come in and I’ll organize your kitchen, pantry, bathroom. As far as businesses, I’ve done a couple of businesses in the area. I did a boutique in Dunedin where I organized her inventory to help her with her online sales. Move management is where I’ll go in and I will organize somebody’s home after they have done a move. I’ll unpack all the boxes and get everything set up for them within a couple of days to make their move and their transition easier.
Let’s go back to before you started this business. Where did this idea come from? Why did you get into running this business?
It evolved over time. When I was little, I was that kid that was always organizing all my toys and all my crayons, color coding, all of that. Over the years, as I started taking on jobs, my managers in my reviews would tell me and always comment about how organized I was. I would be organizing the back offices at my jobs for fun on the side. Slowly, I started realizing that it was something I was passionate about, something I loved, and something that was a skill that a lot of other people may or may not have that I could help them with.
This is something you grew up with. Was there something that happened when you were younger that made you want everything organized?
I got it a lot from my dad. It’s a mindset. I always felt like I could be more productive and have a positive impact when I was organized. I could get my schoolwork done easier and I could focus easier. When everything had a place, I could find it a lot quicker. For all of those reasons, organizing became a habit.
It expanded over the years. I would agree that if you are organized, you’re able to be more productive or more efficient with your time. It’s mostly my wife who’s organized in different areas of our home. We’ve got it to a good spot where our thing is. Everything has to have a place. It makes a huge difference and it helps you keep things neat and organized. When it is organized, it helps you maintain it that much easier.
Everything has a home. Everything has a function. It’s easy to find your keys when you’re late for work.
What is it that you enjoy so much about helping other people with being organized and stuff? Share your thoughts on that.
As I was building my business, one of the main focuses I had was helping other people. It’s always been a priority for me to increase their quality of life and help their time management because it ranges. There are busy business professionals, moms on the go, and everybody has to have a system and a flow. People will call me for different reasons. That’s why my purpose in my business is to help those people that don’t have time to do it themselves.
Walk me through the process of working on a project. How does it go from that initial meeting until you’re done and it’s organized?
The first step in the process is consultation. I’ll do a phone consultation at first, and then I always like to go and see the space with my own eyes, walk through everything with the client, and then talk about their pain points, what’s working, what’s not working. Also, have a chance to work through what their vision is to be able to move forward.
When I come back for the actual project, the first step is to take everything out of the room. Let’s say we’re doing a pantry. We’ll take everything out of the pantry, put it on to the kitchen counters or the island, and I will separate it by category. We’ll do snacks, pasta, cans, so on and so forth. We go through everything. First off, we’ll look at all the expiration dates. We’ll get rid of anything that’s expired. Maybe that’s been in the back of the pantry for a little while. The next step is to have the client come in to make sure that they’re using all of the food and that it’s still something that they use daily. They’ll go through and purge anything or declutter anything they don’t feel like they need anymore.
The next step that I like to do is to bin everything up. Everything has a home. We’ll put everything in bins, put it back nicely, and then label everything so when they do that next shopping trip. It’s easy. The pasta goes into the pasta bin and the snacks go into the snack bin. Especially if you have kids, sometimes things get chaotic. The kids know exactly where the snacks are, the healthy snacks versus the candy, and then it makes it a lot easier to organize for the parents or in general.
Labeling is a big part of it, too, right?
Absolutely. I have different types of labels depending on the project. That is a huge part because that’s what maintains the system.
Does the customer decide what’s labeled or do you have a system depending on what space it is and what’s being organized?
I usually take point on that depending on what they have. I like to talk with the client if there’s anything that’s not there that they will be having in the future so that we can create those extra spaces for them.
Let’s jump into running a business. Is it something that you’ve always wanted to do at some point?
Yes, absolutely. I have always had that business mindset. It’s always something that I’ve wanted to do and I’ve been able to jump into it mainly due to my husband. He’s been an awesome support for me to let me take that leap of faith. I’m so happy I’ve had that opportunity.
If you’re going to go into business, especially when it’s commission-based or if you’re not producing, you’re not making any money, not bringing anything. You almost need to have someone there to help you and support you during those times. Where did that come from? Is that something you grew up with? I know I remember always wanting to be a business owner for myself. I never knew what the business was going to be but growing up. It was something that I wanted to do.
Funny you say that. That is exactly how I felt, too. I remember being in my different jobs over the years and always feeling like I was trying to take the lead on certain projects or provide feedback. I didn’t always feel like it was recognized or valued, so over time, I’ve wanted to be able to take my ideas and implement them and be able to help people in the ways that I felt were important.
I’ve always had that initial instinct to want to be a business owner and I’ve been able to jump into it with that. When I was trying to start my business and decide on what was most important to me, organizing shaped my business. As we talked about before of my past and what I felt like I was good at and what I could bring to the table.
You opened your business in 2020. What was that like? Why did you decide to open in the middle of the pandemic?
I started it in January, right before the pandemic. That was a little bit of bad timing, but it did give me an opportunity. There are a lot of backend items that come into it, marketing and taxes on the website, and all those backend items that have to get set up ahead of time. I utilized those couple of months that everything was shut down to focus on those things, getting backend items, so then that way, I could get rocking and rolling right when everything opened up again.
There are always some challenges running a business. It’s always like, “What’s the next challenge?” You overcome that challenge, and then there’s something else as you’re growing and stuff. What are some challenges that you’ve experienced with running your business?
One of the main items for me has been time management. When I get that client, I want to put everything I can towards it, all my time, energy, and attention. I’m making sure that I’m on top of my communication, email, texting, phone calls. I’m making sure that we have the right bins and containers. There’s so much that goes on before and after a project that time management is something that I’m learning to work on more, and also maintaining my referral base and my clientele, too. That’s something I’ve been working on.
That’s a challenge that a lot of people have. We talked about that before. I asked that question to a couple of other guests in the show and that’s one thing that’s come up quite a bit, time management, time blocking, however it is that you handle that. Has there been anything that you’ve implemented to help you with time management?
Everything has a home and a function.
Lots of organizing. I have a Google Calendar. I keep that organized and up to date. I have my paper files. I have my to-do file. Everything is based on organization and trying to keep that time management up. It’s the unknowns that can throw you for a loop.
Managing those and that part of the process. Your business is organizing and having your business being organized allows you to handle those when a new client calls and says, “Can you do this?”
I have a list of questions that I have. I have a whole process from start to finish that I do for the actual project, and then outside of the project, I have Trello, Google Calendar, and all these different organizational tools so I can maintain my time management.
For the person who is a little bit organized but not quite organized the way that it should be to maximize the benefits of being organized, what are some of those benefits of having your kitchen organized or your closets organized?
Stress management and time management are the main things. If you wake up in the morning for work and you don’t have clothes done or your clothes washed and your closet is a mess, it’s not going to be easy for you to get up and get going in the morning. The same thing with your kitchen. You won’t find those tools and find the equipment you need when you need it.
I do have my client range. There are some clients that call me and they think that they’re super unorganized, but they just need systems in place. I have other clients that want me to take a comprehensive look at their whole house and functionally change the flow of their house so that everything is together in one place.
I had a client who needed some additional help. He has a small condo, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, but his water heater broke and everything got had to be taken out of the house and everything was brought back in. When the movers brought it in, everything got dumped everywhere. He didn’t even know where to start and needed me to take a look at everything.
I worked through the whole house from start to finish. I gathered like-items and put them in specific spots in his living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Now that everything’s in one place and labeled, everything is super easy for him to find and everything makes a lot more sense. My clients range from semi-organized all the way to, “I don’t even know where to start.”
“Help me with everything.” I looked at some of your before and after photos, and then some other photos on the internet and it seemed there is a good amount of people that have tried to do some organization. They have some bins or something like that in place, but then there are other parts of it that are still a mess or not quite organized to be completely organized.
That’s most of the clients that I see. They are interested in organizing. They don’t know where to start. They have those bins and the fundamentals. They just don’t know how to implement it. That’s where the process that we talked about before can help give us a guideline of where to start and where we’re going, and then it’s easy for the client to get on board.
I want to talk about the moving services that you offer because, in my business, moving is a big thing. Probably the least favorite part of anyone who’s buying or selling a home is packing things up and moving. What do you do there for the buyers and sellers?
I like to be involved in both steps, the packing and the unpacking. The reason is that ahead of time, if I’m packing everything, I can pack it according to like-items and label the boxes appropriately. That way, by the time we’re unpacking, everything is streamlined, everything’s in the right spot for me, and it’s easy to get the client to move into their home as quickly as possible.
Also, it’s easy for me to have a bigger visual of what they have and what they’re going to. I can see their home currently and then once we see where they’re moving to, I can already start visually mapping out where everything’s going to go. Typically, what I do is I’ll go to U-Haul or any other places that provide boxes and I’ll pack everything up and get the boxes labeled.
I have a team that can help me get everything unpacked when I unpack. Usually, it takes between 2 to 3 days for an average size house to unpack. We’ll do everything, kitchen, pantry, bathroom. We’ll put everything away back in the closet. I know you probably deal with a lot of people that will move into their house and they’ll have boxes a year later. They don’t have time to get to it because life gets busy. How do you feel about that with the packing and unpacking side? What have you seen with your clients?
It’s a range of it. Some people are super organized and they’re packing everything up early. I would agree, the unpacking depends on the person and whether they have the help and the time. Unpacking is time-consuming. It takes time and it’s not necessarily fun. Maybe unpacking is a little more fun than packing everything up. I know for myself, it’s not a fun process. I don’t think a lot of people enjoy moving. If somebody is getting ready to move, how far in advance do they need to contact you? How much time do you need to pack things up?
Honestly, the earlier, the better. One other item that I’m starting to dabble in is the staging part of it. I like to help the client pack up as many of their belongings as possible that they’re not actively using. That way, it helps the realtor stage the house a little better, so it doesn’t look so cluttered, the rooms look bigger. They can put it in the storage unit or wherever they decide to put their items that they’re not using. That way, it makes the process a lot easier for everybody.
You have an idea where everything is boxed up. It’s organized before it gets to the new home. Exactly. That’s a good point to bring out because I had a similar scenario where we did some staging, rearranging some things around and they boxed some stuff up to get it out of the way for the home data market. That’s awesome that you do that. I want to talk about the residential stuff. What are some common things that keep coming up? Maybe tips you could provide to somebody who’s looking to have a home that’s more organized? What is some advice that you can give there?
I’ve seen a commonality between all of my clients is that it’s declutter. People have too much stuff and not enough space or storage. We don’t have basements like up north. Our Florida homes are designed a little bit differently. Closet space can be limited in some of them. My biggest tip would be the one in, one out rule. If you buy a shirt, get rid of a shirt or donate a shirt. Don’t bring in more than you already have.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by your clutter, it probably is time for you to get rid of some items or donate them. That’s something that I’m big on, donating it to the right places. I did a kid’s room and the mom had some extra diapers from when the child was younger that didn’t fit anymore. I want to make sure that those diapers get to the right home.
There’s another program that we have locally called Gadgets for Good. What they do is they take in electronics, DVD players, computers, any electronics except for TVs, and they will break down the hard drive for you. They’ll repurpose those electronics for kids so that they can use the electronics for their schools, for kids that don’t have electronics that need them. That’s been a big focus in my business, taking my clients’ donations and repurposing them to the right locations rather than just bringing them to Goodwill or Salvation Army. There are some items that that’s where it needs to go.
They can throw them away.
If it can be brought to the right place, then that’s one of my main focuses, repurposing it in the right way.
I remember watching a documentary or something about how much stuff we have in America. We have so much stuff. We fill up our garage with all this stuff. Our attics are filled with stuff, and then we have storage facilities where we put all the stuff that doesn’t fit in the home. It’s crazy.
Storage units are popping up all over the place.
We have two more that were being built in our area in Dunedin and Palm Harbor.
Storage units have their purpose at certain times. When I saw those other ones popping up, I was like, “Homeboy.”
That’s the last thing we need. I like to wrap up each episode with this. What is your favorite local business or a business that you want to highlight?
One that I’d like to highlight is in Dunedin. It’s The Ivory Palm. The owners there are Melissa and Christie. They have built a beautiful gift boutique and it is special. I know that they could use some love and support. They’re right across from the Dunedin Brewery downtown.
I think that’s Broadway?
With new little shopping apartments or condos right above. Dunedin is a great little area. Those little gift shops and stuff like that have some cool stuff there.
It’s so nice that everything’s so close. We have Tarpon right by us, Dunedin, so it’s a nice community that we have in the area.
If you wake up in the morning for work and your closet is a mess, it will not be easy for you to get up and get going.
Angela, thank you for being on the show. I appreciate your time. How can people get ahold of you if they want to learn more about your services or contact you?
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Angela. She’s got a great business and a great concept to help people, families, and business professionals be more organized and have a system to keep things in order. Check her out. If I can connect you with any of our previous guests, then follow me on Instagram, @Donny.Hathaway, and send me a message there. We’ll see you next episode.