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melissa keyser

Episode 86: Melissa Keyser: Organizing as a career for HSP (Highly Sensitive People)

Jul 19

Melissa Keyser’s journey to professional organizing stretched from the Bay Area to the woods of Maine–including selling almost everything she owned to move cross country. Today she joins us to talk about her business, including why it’s the ideal career for people who identify as being HSP–highly sensitive people–and who might struggle in a traditional workplace. 

We talk about virtual organizing and how we have integrated that into our organizing businesses, and she tells us about what she would tell herself if she were just starting out–lessons learned!

Melissa can be found on Instagram at @melissakeyser and her website,

Melissa Keyser, professional organizer, at home in Maine.

Links for listeners:

Information about our Inspired Organizer® program (Melissa is one of our students!)

Melissa’s website:

Melissa’s Instagram: @melissakeyser

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Hey pro organizers. It’s Melissa, the co-host of the podcast. Today the only thing you  have to have the name, Melissa K, and be a professional organizer. That’s it! My guest is Melissa Keyser, who is one of our Inspired Organizer students. And she’s bringing us some really great stories about her journey to organizing, which included a cross-country move in which she sold almost every single thing that she owned, as well as realizing that a life of stuff wasn’t really for her.   

She also was able to realize that professional organizing was the perfect career for her personality type, which she will explain to us. It’s fascinating. We also talk a lot about virtual organizing, how we have both integrated that into our businesses and lots of other things. No matter where you are in your organizing journey, we have some great things to share with you today.

I also wanted to make sure that if you’re listening to this, that you have been able to go see Jen Obermeier’s totally free workshop called “Your Four-Part Plan to Landing your Dream Clients in 2021.” This workshop is on demand, so whether it is six in the morning, three in the morning, noon, whatever time works for you, we are ready to give you this workshop. You can go anytime at www,  I really just love everything that Jen has to say in this workshop. She has so much wisdom for us as we go through the second half of 2021.

And I really wanted to make sure that everybody was able to catch it. 

All right. We are ready to get started today with our guests, Melissa.

You’re listening to the pro organizer studio podcast with Melissa Klug and Jen Obermeier. Thank you so much for joining in our mission is to broaden the horizons of savvy business women in the organizing industry by instilling confidence and inspiring authenticity. You’ll gain new insight into strategies designed specifically for professional organizers.

So now let’s get started.

Melissa Klug: [00:01:59] We are back back on the Pro Organizer Studio podcast, and I am with a guest of mine today. She is one of our inspired organizers and I am absolutely excited to welcome my friend, Melissa Keyser to the podcast.

How are you? 

Melissa Keyser: [00:02:13] Good. Thanks for having me. 

Melissa Klug: [00:02:15] I am thrilled to have you. You and I are both in this industry, because we have had major career changes and major life changes and, and that’s kind of a common story for a lot of people, but your story is a little bit more unique.

So I would love for you to tell us a little bit about your history and how you came to professional organizing. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:02:34] Yeah, so it’s definitely not very linear. But I think the best way to explain where I am now is to start at the very beginning as when I was a kid I am born and raised in California. I grew up in the bay area, but in the mountains without electricity and we were very poor.

I felt like I didn’t fit in with, you know, the kids at school. I didn’t know the Nickelodeon shows that they were talking about because we didn’t have TV. And I had hand-me-down clothes, so I didn’t have the right styles. And so I spent the most of my childhood feeling like I didn’t fit in and that I wasn’t good enough.

And so that was kind of a big foundation for a lot of insecurities throughout my whole life. And when I was old enough to get a job and start making money and buying things for myself, I tried to fill those holes with. As many women I think do. And so buying, any clothes that fit me and buying music that everyone else listened to, even if I didn’t like it because I wanted so desperately to fit in.

And so this just progressively got worse and worse and worse. And I was really unhappy because I was constantly chasing something, looking for this perfect thing to finally make me cool enough to make me feel like I was good enough. You know, I did it with clothes. I did it with stuff. I did it with jobs, anything.

And so by the time I was in my early thirties, I kind of had this like wake up call. I am chasing something that doesn’t exist and I’m never going to be able to buy something that’s good enough. And I had like, most people, read the KonMari book. And a lot of it didn’t resonate with me.

And I actually thought a lot of it was crap. And I got to the part where she was talking about folding socks. And I was like, yeah, not going to happen. 

Melissa Klug: [00:04:17] Not for me. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:04:18] But it started to make me think about like there’s actual weight with our possessions. And I started to realize how much my possessions were kind of really holding me back.

And so I started to explore the concepts of minimalism and decluttering and the idea of slow living. And that really started to resonate with me. And to me, whether you want to call it intentional living or minimalism or some publicity or whatever you want to call it, to me, it’s all pretty much the same thing.

And I realized I was living my life for someone else and trying to prove myself to someone else. And there’s this quote in a book that I read once and by a meal  I think it’s how you say the name is. I was part of that strange race of people, aptly described as spending their lives, doing things they detest to make money.

They don’t want to buy things. They don’t need to impress people. They don’t like,

Melissa Klug: [00:05:12] I love that. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:05:14] And I needed the money at that time. I was barely making it, but it was really kind of what wrapped up what I was feeling. And so I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to be happy. I wanted it. Feel fulfilled .

So I started to really declutter my stuff. I started to shift my habits and I started to really think about like, why am I doing these things? Like, why am I buying this? And so that progressively led to me simplifying my life in many other ways.

At some point I realized that a big part of it was living in California. You know, this was an area I had grown up in. I was always around people that at least knew someone who knew someone else. I was around a lot of people who had a lot of money, and I just felt very insecure. And in general, I just wanted a simpler life. Like I wanted to be able to go walk in the woods with my dog.

I wanted to be able to sit and look out a window and drink tea. I didn’t want to hear my neighbors all the time. And so my husband and I decided to move to Maine because. That’s about as far away from the bay area of California that you can get. 

Melissa Klug: [00:06:17] And pretty far 

Melissa Keyser: [00:06:19] I really wanted to live rural and I obviously could have found that in California, but by that time you have to get so far out of the cities that then it’s hard to get work.

I still wanted to work. I still needed to be able to work. And I kind of fell in love with that very romanticized, pastoral dream of, the epitome of simplifying your life. So about two years ago, we sold our house. We cashed out all of our savings. We sold almost everything we owned and we packed up our dog and two cats and the remaining things that we owned in an RV and drove across the country and moved to Maine and didn’t know anybody.

And so we bought property and we decided we were going to build our own house. And yeah. Was what I thought my dream was. We were going to have this farm, all of the very stiff, stereotypical things that you think about when someone leaves the bay area of California to move to Maine.

I thought I wanted to build this house and we were going to live this certain way.

But things didn’t work out quite the way it happened. And you know, when I say building house, like we were actually building it, we were swinging the hammers climbing on scaffolding. I learned how to use a nail gun, all those things. And we got about three quarters of the way done and we just needed physical help because I couldn’t lift the rafter boards.

All of the people who had promised  that they would come and help magically disappeared. This is the middle of a pandemic. And I started to realize, like, I didn’t actually want to build a house.

 I kind of had convinced myself of that was what I needed to do. And I kind of slipped back into old patterns of trying to convince myself that I was good enough to move from conference.

And I wanted to prove to someone. That I was, strong enough, good enough. Whatever to build this house. 

Melissa Klug: [00:07:58] Or was it also like a little bit of it’s it’s sort of like you said, the old patterns, but you were trying to say this is the box I have to check in. People think this is cool. So I’m going to do that thing that they think is cool.

Melissa Keyser: [00:08:11] Yeah, absolutely. And so I realized that like, I didn’t really care about living in a house that I built myself and there was some financial reasons why we were doing this, but a lot of it was to be like, I live in a house that I built myself about myself, because that sounds really amazing.

And that’s something that people do here in Maine. And so I felt like, well, if I could do that too, then maybe I would be accepted here. But we realized  that wasn’t working out.  And so we were like, okay, we’re going to abandon the stream.

And we’re going to our favorite word pivot. And we are going to shift to something else. And so we purchased the house, which is where I’m in right now. But that’s kind of my life tangent, but when we realized that we wanted to leave California, I realized that I was going to need a different career because at the time I was doing landscape design.

And while I liked that, I didn’t like it enough to start over again because the plants here are totally different. The ecosystems are totally different. And so I realized I needed a different career and I really wanted to be a life coach, but that was very vague. And I wanted something tangible that I could use my hands for because I like creating. And I, but I really wanted to help people. So I actually worked with a career coach and she had suggested professional organizing.

And I didn’t really know that was a thing  despite, reading Marie Kondo’s book, I didn’t realize that that was really like a thing that people did for a job.  I started doing research. I talked to other women in my, in the region who were organizers, who suggested the pro organizer studio.

And so I signed up for that and I realized that , I was really excited about it. And so when we moved, I was going to start my business and then I also decided To get certified in the KonMari method, because that was kind of what had sparked my interest in the more lifestyle shift that comes with decluttering and, and things like that.

So I did that and then moved across the country and started a business. And that’s where we are today. 

Melissa Klug: [00:10:00] That is an amazing story. I mean, that’s and listen, there are so many people in the organizing industry that have very dramatic stories about , I really wanted to change my entire life and my entire career.

I don’t know many people who did it quite as dramatically as you, and  really did the, I mean, you did a full on life change career home , geography, everything. So a lot of the times in this podcast, we talk to people about, Hey, that all sounds really scary. There might be people sitting there going like, oh my gosh, I would never do that.

But did you ever envision yourself doing that? I mean like, did you just have to do it scared and say, it’s going to be fine. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:10:40] Yeah. I mean, if you would’ve asked me like five years ago, what I, my daily routine involves shoveling snow to get out of my driveway or I would’ve been like, no. And so my husband is from New Hampshire, we met in California, but we came out here a couple times and all of his friends were always going to be like, oh, someone are gonna move out here. And I was like, hell no, never going to happen. Born and raised on the beach in California. 

But It just got to a point when we were in California, it was just so overwhelming. We were in so much debt. You need a lot of money to live in the bay area of California. And we were managing, we were comfortable, but it was like this, isn’t what I wanted my life to be like I didn’t want us to have to be working 70 hours a week.

I didn’t want to be spending hours in traffic. And so that rural vision and Maine started to really become more appealing and on a practical side. And it was like, we can have a quality of life and need a lot less than we can here.  And there’s definitely days when, like, you know, I curl up on the couch crying cause I miss my friends and family. And then I look at the thermometer and it’s six degrees and I’m like, why exactly did I move?

And then I remember like I never sit in traffic. I can walk out my door and go walk , in the woods and not see a single person. And it’s quiet. And I walked down a dirt road to check the mail. And then I talked to my neighbors and I bring them eggs. And the things that are important to me I can live that here.

And really I think like the whole slow living thing is it’s about caring, less about a lot of things, but then caring more about the things that are value. And so by moving, it allowed me to really do the, the things that mattered most. I was able to embrace and obviously like my friends and family mattered to me, but on a daily basis, I had to look at what it was that I knew.

Melissa Klug: [00:12:22] Yeah. Did you have to, the only word I can use, which is not going to sound like a great word is like, did you have to deprogram yourself a little bit from your old life? Like, did it take you a while after you moved to go , oh wait, I don’t have to drive two hours to go five miles or like, was there an adjustment period?

Melissa Keyser: [00:12:39] There was both like tangible things, but then also mental things. And so someone once said to me if I can get the wording, right. But she had said the key to when you really change your life, like that is not just being in a new place with the same thought patterns. But you have this opportunity to recreate your life.

And that’s what I had wanted. That’s why I’d want it to leave. In California I was always bitter. I was always angry. I was always annoyed. I was always stressed out and anxious and always very negative. And so I really had wanted to take this opportunity. To really, you know, completely shift your life.

Like I can change my thought pattern as well, and that was kind of why I wanted to move.  Or , especially with my own living situations, like it took us a while to get to this house almost two years. So we were,  random rentals, sleeping on family couches, very stressful experiences.

And there was a lot of opportunities where , my old self would have just been like, I hate this, everything sucks, blah, blah, blah, but really trying to see positive and really trying to think about positives. So there’s that aspect, but then just in terms of daily life, like I’m used to at eight o’clock on a Sunday, if I want to go somewhere to grab dinner that’s a feasible thing here.

Stuff is either not open on Sunday or it’s shuts down at three o’clock. And like the hardware store I’m used to being able to, just stuff being open stuff, being lots of options, which is not the case here, but I actually like that because it helps me live in the way that I want to live.

Like I have to be intentional about going to the store. I can’t do impulse purchases. I’m not like, Hey, I’m going to just go to target for something to do. And therefore buying stuff like I’m going to go drive to target. It’s going to take me an hour. But I’m going to be intentional about it. And so those things which were limits originally, I think actually did help me.

And it’s obviously not a lifestyle for everyone, but for me, I think it was really important. 

Melissa Klug: [00:14:33] That’s the concept of being intentional is one that I definitely try to teach my clients. And I think it’s one that is important for organizers, depending on the type of organizing that you do , you might be working with a client where you’re trying to teach them, like, how do you stop those consumption habits?

Or how do you stop that process from like your house getting disorganized again? And that intentionality, I think is a big part. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:14:56] Yeah. And that’s really why I wanted to be an organizer was less of the traditional organizing where it’s, we’re making our spaces beautiful and functional, but I really love the work where I’m coaching people to have less stuff and to change their relationship with things and to only have things in their homes that they really value and a lot of it is to not put our worth in to our items.

You know, like what we own doesn’t mean that who is who we are as a person. And so really helping people. Process those things with their stuff, because that’s what I experienced. And so I can really help with that. 

Melissa Klug: [00:15:32] I talked to a lot of different types of organizers, right. And one of the things that I love about organizing is that you can do anything.

So you can be you Melissa and say, I really want to help people intentionally slow down, work on your consumption habits. I really want to help people declutter and live more simply, you can also be an organizer that says, I just want to make beautiful pantries.  There is room for everyone in this industry and you can do exactly what right.

Melissa Keyser: [00:16:01] Yeah. And there’s people who need all that. Like, there’s a lot of people who have no problem with their stuff and they just need to find it or they just want it to look nice. But then there’s people who are like me, who the stuff is consuming their lives. And not so much in a mess line because I’ve always been a very organized person.

 In my craft room, I had all the bins with the pretty labels and stuff like that, but I had so much craft supply of stuff that I didn’t actually even like doing, but I felt like I was supposed to be doing because that’s , because if you’re a crafty person, you knit, you crochet you. So you scrapbook, you do all these things.

 I don’t even like to do half of those things, but yet I still have all these things. So helping people really work through that type of stuff. 

Melissa Klug: [00:16:41] Well, and I think it brings up another point about just being an organizer in general is you have to figure out  what kind of people you want to work with.

And you may not be the right organizer for everyone. I’ve talked to a lot of organizers recently about this, like that process of saying, I might not be the right person to work with you. That doesn’t make me a bad organizer. It just means that , I think there might be a better person out there for you, and that helps you. And it helps the client. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:17:07] Yeah, absolutely. 

Melissa Klug: [00:17:09] So tell me a little bit about, you know, a lot of organizers obviously you want to find clients and a lot of organizers end up in bigger metropolitan areas. And so they have more people to draw from you’re in a pretty rural area. You are about an hour from a pretty decent sized city.

And tell us a little bit about being an organizer in a smaller geography. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:17:29] Yeah. So I would say it’s definitely a little bit of a challenge, but it is possible. And that was one thing that it was a little bit fearful of when I decided to do this, knowing that I was rural, knowing that I just don’t have a population to draw from.

So, like you said, I’m about an hour from the largest city in Maine , but I can get to a lot of these smaller towns as well, fairly easily, but I just accepted that, to do this work, I’m going to drive at least an hour one way.

And that’s just part of what it is. I also. Don’t do any in-home pre consultations. Like I do everything. I talk with them on the phone. Maybe we’ll do a FaceTime video or maybe I’ll have them send me photos or a video if I’m want to see the space before I show up. I require that people pay ahead of time because I don’t want to drive and then have them be like, oh, I forgot or whatever.

Yeah. So I require payment prior to sessions just to protect my time. And I also don’t do a lot of shopping for people. And so I would love if I was in a city to be able to like , work through a space and be like, Hey, I’m going to run to the container store. Like the nearest container store to me is in south Boston, which is like a four hour hall and it’s not going to happen.

And so I do a lot of like, we already have these things in the house. We’re gonna use these baskets. We’re gonna use these shoe boxes. We’ll then sometimes send them links of like, here are things that you can order online, but if you want this, like you’re going to need to go get it. I will occasionally get things from target if I’m like there.

And I notice it and know that that client needs something and then I’ll take, get with me, but I don’t do a lot of shopping for people just because I don’t have the stores here. Yeah. And then I also have minimum hours of sessions and I work because I need to factor in driving time. I work in three hour or in six hour sessions.

So then that way I can really , plan my schedule. I don’t have a lot of open-ended like, Hey, we’ll just work until we’re done. And so those are some of the things that I have used.  Almost all of my clients come from Google because I’m in a rural state. There’s not a lot of other organizers.

So it was fairly easy for me to get on the first page of Google. But I did a lot of work on my website for SEO stuff. So people are primarily finding me that way and they’re searching professional organizer, Maine. So I didn’t have to be very specific in the cities. And I’m really trying to do a push for virtual sessions and I’m hoping this year to pivot to at least half virtual.

And I’m hoping to create like a virtual coaching organizing program, just because it is sometimes tedious to drive so working on the virtual skills is kind of my, my business goal for that. 

Melissa Klug: [00:20:01] How have you found virtual Oregon? Like tell us a little bit about, you know, when you made that switch, what was that like? 

Melissa Keyser: [00:20:08] So I really liked doing it and I think it works really well when you’re doing the more declutter coaching.

I think the actual, tangible organizing is a little bit hard because it’s like , you just really want to reach through the screen and like do one item, just do these things. Let’s move out of the way. Let me do it. Yeah. And it’s like, no, no, not that thing. The other thing, no. The other thing like, and so that aspect gets a little bit frustrating, but when we’re just sitting and we’re talking through , we can pull out the clothes from the closet and then we’re sitting there talking about it.

And we’re talking about things like processing guilt about buying things that they couldn’t afford, but they haven’t worn or buying things , that used to fit them. And they feel really bad because they’re still in the closet ? So those types of things where we’re talking, I think works excellent lately.

But then it’s a lot of like, okay, let’s shuffle the computer around. Let’s prop it up so I can see the closet and give you some tips.  But the conversations about decluttering, think can be done just as effectively over screen as it can be in person.

Melissa Klug: [00:21:10] And with just the right person, all of the things work, right? Like it’s definitely harder, but with the right client, it can be super effective. I know I had a client this weekend that I was just telling her, okay, here’s what I want you to go get. And here’s what I want you to do with it. 

We did a FaceTime and I just said, Hey, tweak this and tweak that. And like, I’ve been shocked at how well it works for people. And I think like you said, that coaching piece when you’re just talking about the emotions or , the things it’s super effective that way.

Melissa Keyser: [00:21:38] Yeah. And I think it works better in some areas than others. Like a closet I think is pretty easy because you can set. Yeah. The computer or the phone or the FaceTime, or however you’re doing it, you know, on a shelf and point the image. And then you can be like, Hey, so let’s move the pants all to the left or let’s take the things on the back, the top baskets.

Cause they’re very, you know, kind of tangible things versus a kitchen, I think is a little bit harder because you have to really understand the flow of the kitchen.  And so even with those types of things, I tell them like, Hey, this is an experiment. We’re going to try this. This is a temporary spot.

It might not work, but like, let’s try this. And then , as we get off the phone observed during the week, how this works. So, but I think it’s, it’s, it’s definitely feasible. And I think it’s something that, I mean, who knows with pandemic stuff, but like as people get more spread out. It’s just something that we need to learn, how to adapt to do.

Melissa Klug: [00:22:35] I think that also opens organizers up to be able to work with people all over the country. So , you have a huge network back in California, and now that opens you up to be able to work with, with people from your old life and in a much more effective way. We’ve all learned how to use video to our advantage .

So you can keep it, keep growing your business that way you can’t. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:22:54] And I think it opens up the, it makes organizing more accessible for more people, because in general, you do need to have some disposable income to hire an organizer with any kind of coach or professional. Like you have to have money to be able to come in.

And it’s usually more expensive to have someone spend their time. My virtual sessions are less expensive than my in-home sessions cause I don’t have to drive and , I can fit them in schedule more. So that makes it maybe a little bit more affordable for people who. Might not have the income to do a whole organizing,  , with someone right there by them side.

So I think that’s really great because as an industry, I think, you know, a lot of us really want to help people. And so we don’t only want to work with people who have the millions of dollars. We want to work with everyday people, because those are often the people that really need our help. So I’m excited about that as well, to be accessible to more people.

Melissa Klug: [00:23:51] I think it’s great all around.

So one of the things that drew you to professional organizing was you talked about how you had this career coach, but you also realized some things about yourself and how you interacted with your environment and how professional organizing was really a good career for your personality.

So can you tell us a little bit about that journey for you too? 

Melissa Keyser: [00:24:14] Yeah. So as I was feeling really overwhelmed with my house and I was starting to explore. Like the minimalism stuff and the decluttering, I also came across the concept of highly sensitive people or HSPs. And I realized that I am one of those people.

And if you’ve never heard of this it was a term that was coined in the nineties. And it’s thought that about 20% of the population are HSPs. And so it’s not enough to be considered like a disorder or a personality trait per se, but it’s a term to describe people who are more sensitive to their environments.

They’re more aware of their surroundings and , their nervous system is built a little bit differently. And so they’re more perceptive. They can really sense things that other people might not observe. And so , for me, I’m hyper aware of noise and which is one of the issues that we had with the house that we were building is like a neighbor was super loud.

And that just didn’t work for me. And back in California, too, constantly being annoyed by noise that other people didn’t even hear, like the neighbor’s air conditioning. But so for me, so like noise is very triggering or lights is very triggering.

But also just being able to read other people’s emotions. And so we’re very empathic. We can really sense the energy around us, which in organizing, I think is a really great trait because often my clients are like, I feel like you ask questions and you know exactly what I’m thinking and I’m, I’m not psychic.

I don’t know what they’re thinking, but I can read their energy. And so I remember there was this one time this woman was holding a canning pot and. I could immediately tell when she grabbed this canning pot, that this did not bring her joy. It did not fulfill her life, but she was convincing herself that she needed to keep this canning pot.

And so she was telling me about , she’d use this, they had gone apple picking and with her kids, and that was  a really fun experience. And then she was canning and then she was saying how she likes canning, but I could just tell that she actually didn’t like it. And so she was convincing herself.

So I was able to think of the right questions to ask her to really be like, is this something you actually want to continue to hold onto? And there’s other times too, like when people have , their clothing items or any of their items, I can really hone in on, on what it is that they’re feeling about these things.

Because I think as an HSP, I can sense the energy of the person, but also the items sometimes too. And so that’s really helpful because I think it. Gives me like a special power, almost like I have magic and I can sense what you’re feeling. Yeah. And so while that’s really great though, it’s can be really hard for HSPs to find good, successful rewarding work, because we’re really often misunderstood.

Like I had one job where I was working in an office and every day I had to climb on the desk and unscrew the fluorescent light because I would immediately feel sick. And so of course I’m like weirdo who undoes the lights. I’m sure that janitors hated me, but also like where does really misunderstood?

 And so HSPs are the people when their kids are always told to stop crying or over you’re overreacting or, oh, don’t be so dramatic. And so that can be, and your experience with that in a workplace workplaces are designed for sensitive people.  And we don’t often fit in with that. And so I had really wanted, when I was exploring new careers, I really had wanted to work for myself because I could control my physical environment. But then I realized like how I can use , these traits of myself, like to a beneficial way.

And so that’s why I really liked organizing because I can help the people, but also  observing space use, I think is really key. And so being able to walk into a room and know what’s not working and know, like you’ll talk with the people obviously, and I’m never telling people what to do.

I’m helping them figure it out on what works best for them, but seeing what the problems are on a deeper level, because I can sense that. 

Melissa Klug: [00:28:13] Do you think that there are probably a lot of organizers that are HSPs and they just don’t know it. Like sometimes I’ll see something online and I’ll be like, they’ll  give a list of symptoms of something I’m like, oh my gosh, I think I’m mad.

Like, do you think that there are probably a lot of organizers that, that are HSPs, but they just have never heard of it or they don’t have a name for it? 

Melissa Keyser: [00:28:33] Well, I think the organizers and especially coaches who are doing more of like the declutter coaching aspect of it,  I think people are very empathetic and so you can be an impact and not be an HSP.

And I think you can also be an HSP and not be an empath. I think that many people  have traits that are sensitive, you know, HSPs it’s pretty clear. And if you do any of those. Assessments online, like you hit every box and you’re like, oh my God, this person is talking directly about me.

And you finding out that, that was a thing was so immensely helpful for my self-esteem, because like I talked before, like I always felt like I didn’t fit in, but also I felt like there was something wrong with me because it’s like, I was always crying. I’m very moved. Like I’m the person that cries, the hallmark videos, you know, those types of things.

And just always overwhelmed. 

Melissa Klug: [00:29:25] So is organizing the career that you think is the most fitting for you? Like, do you envision yourself staying with this?

Because  it checks all those boxes and it really satisfies those good qualities that you have. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:29:39] I really love it. And so I’m definitely honing in on exactly who my ideal clients are. Like we had talked about, like, I really like helping the people who’s want to have a lifestyle shift.

They don’t want just a tidy pantry or a tiny closet. So I’m honing in on that and wanting to do a little bit more on the coaching aspect, then the physical organizing. But I, I love it. I love it. Helping people work through their stuff. I’m also kind of nosy. So I love seeing what people have in their homes.

It is fun. Right. 

You know, and like hearing people’s stories and , I get to meet such fascinating people and it is, it’s very rewarding to me. And so even though I’m an introvert and I’m very easily drained, I almost always leave my sessions feeling really energized because I know I made a difference.

Yeah. And so I hope that I can continue to do this. I mean, at some point maybe I’ll have organized all of the people in Maine who are here, so more people need to move here. Actually I’m sure anyone from Maine is like, no, move here, please. Don’t move here, please stop moving here, leave us alone.

Pretty amazing thing. But I’ve definitely had to learn like while being an HSP has all these great calls. It can be very overwhelming at times, and not even just organizing, I think, moving through life. And so if anyone listening is an HSP, they probably already have experienced this, but like, we have to do a lot of work to manage our energy and to not be overwhelmed by this, because since we’re absorbing  so much more stimulus from the world, like we can easily shut down.

And so some of the things that I make sure I do when I’m working with clients is I do a lot of visualizations and , as will, as they sound like before I go into any home, I imagine that I am in cased in like a shiny soap bubble. And so that their energy is somewhat. Safe, you know, I’m in a safe, a safe little bubble and their energy can’t penetrate me after sessions, particularly if they’re really intense, like when I’ve helped people with processing items from  deceased parents, or if they’ve experienced grief, like if I slip on this and I don’t protect my energy, sometimes I’ll leave sessions and I’ll be like shaking because it’s just so much.

So I do a lot of ground rounding imagining you know, that my. That I’m tied into the earth and discharging all the energy and the energy is kind of just flowing off of me. During my session, I washed my hands a lot, which not only just for cleanliness, but if I’m touching a lot of items, there’s energy from the items and that I’m, it’s possible that I’m gathering that.

And so by washing my hands a lot, I can brush that energy off. And then in terms of logistics, I just am very aware of my own energy cycles. I don’t schedule more than one session in a day or a different people.

At least sometimes I’ll do two sessions if I have to drive a long distance. But I don’t schedule multiple people in one day cause I can’t mix all of that. And just when I know that I’m getting really tired, I don’t know.

Push myself. So, yeah, which I think are all good things, even if you’re not an HSP, I think those are good things to manage because we have to, we’re putting so much of ourselves to help our clients. And so, like, we really have to be aware of our own stuff and our own energy. W that phrase, you know, we have to fill our cup first before we can help other people.

Melissa Klug: [00:33:02] I was just about to say, I think even if you are, even if you don’t identify super strongly with some of the things that you’re saying, like, even if you are not a person that, you know, feels the energy or, but anybody who organizes no matter who you are, if you are not an HSP it can be a very emotionally and physically draining job.

And so some of those things that you were talking about, even if you don’t feel them as deeply as you might feel them, it is important to have , those boundaries and those set periods of , we’re stopping here and now I’m going back into my regular life , it’s I think for all organizers, you go through that, no matter what situation you’re in.

Yeah, absolutely. So if you had to go back. Back to where you started and say , Hey I wish I would’ve known this. Like, what’s the best advice you would have given yourself if you knew then what you know now 

Melissa Keyser: [00:33:52] I think I would tell anybody and, or I would have told myself is like, don’t wait until.

You feel like you have it all together before helping people. And so the very beginning, I felt like such a fraud like that. I didn’t know what I was doing. And, and I partially didn’t know what I was doing, but that really kind of affected, like, I, I hesitated on putting myself out there. I didn’t talk about it on social media.

 Because I wanted to wait until I was   professional enough to talk about it, which is so ironic because it’s like, at some point you have to start in order to get there. And I know that this is advice that everyone tries, but it’s like, don’t wait until your website is perfect before you start telling people about it,  , just start with something and you can  evolve it and change it later.

So you don’t have to have it all figured out at the beginning. Like for me, a lot of the tech stuff was really overwhelming at the beginning because it was like, I have to have a website.  I have to have CRM. I have to have a newsletter.

I have to have all of these things. And it was like, oh my gosh, there’s so much I have to do. I have to have an Instagram after Facebook, blah, blah, blah. I have to do ads. And it’s like, no, I don’t have to do any of those things. Like, yeah, I need a website ? And so I got a website up and then, you know, like I still don’t really use Instagram to talk about business so much.

I mostly talk about my life and I have had clients found clients through Instagram, but it’s like, I’m not, I don’t have a perfectly curated organizing related Instagram feed. You know, like you don’t have to do all of the things. And so I think just knowing that from the beginning, like the permission of pick and choose with what you want to do, you can still be successful.

 Your business doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s as well. And so I think that’s a really important thing. It’s like when I first started. I looked at. So like for a website, for example, I looked at all the other organizers websites and they were all very beautiful.

I looked at their color schemes and like there’s some similar similarities, like a lot of people for organizing use very bright and airy photos and their houses are very more modern or contemporary. And so I thought that I had to be like that. So those are the types of imageries I was trying to use.

I’d tried to make my website like that, but then I realized too , that’s not what life is like in Maine. Like the people I am helping are an old rambling 300 year old farm houses that have cracked plaster and people here don’t have closets full of  shoes. And so realizing that like, I don’t have to be like everybody else.

And like my website doesn’t have to look like everybody else. And so. I guess I, at the very beginning, I wish I would’ve just gone with what my gut was to begin with instead of trying to, once again, pretend to be like everybody else, because you can totally make your business be what it is that you want it to be.

Melissa Klug: [00:36:27] Yeah. And I think that’s the key to happiness is making it exactly what works for you, so what works for you might not work for me. What works for me might not work for you. It doesn’t make either of us wrong or right. It’s just, that’s the beauty of this job as you can make it into whatever you want.

But sometimes that pressure, I always say comparison is the thief of joy. We talk about it a lot and be, and I think, especially because we’re entrepreneurs and so you look to other people just for inspiration or encouragement or guidance or whatever. And every once in a while, it’s easy to fall in this trap of like, oh, well she’s got 3000 Instagram followers.

I need 3000 Instagram followers. And it’s like, you know, and if you want that, that’s great. But you don’t, you also don’t. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:37:08] Yeah, you don’t have to, and you don’t have to look like, like them or. Or have your business look like that. And so that was something, you know, like I did so much work for in my own life that I wish I would’ve started with that with my business as well, and like thought of those ideas, but I’m really happy with how it is now.

I’m happy with how I’m growing. I mean, it’s slow, steady progress. It’s really hard to start a business after moving across the country and not knowing when, and then being in the middle of a pandemic. But I’m, I’m really proud of myself with where I’ve gotten and being part of the pro organizer studio has really helped because it’s made me feel very confident in having a business and given me good foundation.

And while some of the things I got distracted on, like, you know, how my website looks and those kinds of things, the foundations have been very strong. And I’ve appreciated that well, 

Melissa Klug: [00:37:59] and having a community of other people who know exactly what you’re going through and are very open to saying like, Hey, I’m having a really bad day.

And here’s what happened with my client. And I need some help navigating the situation. And I think that the thing about the community that always gets me is no matter how experienced someone is you think like, oh, that person has everything figured out. And then they put a question up and say, here’s something I’m dealing with that I’m struggling with.

You’re like, oh my gosh, all of us have struggles. Like, even if you’ve been doing this for five years, you still have struggles. Or whether it’s one year or five years, it’s just nice to know you’re not alone. Yeah, it is. So you tell us a little bit about what comes next for you. You said you’re thinking about maybe developing an online course.

You’re looking to do more virtual. What, what does the rest of 2021 look like for you in your business? 

 Melissa Keyser: [00:38:45] I would really like to do more networking with like local people. That was one of my goals for 2020, but that quickly shut down , working with local interior designers or realtors because while I hope to do a lot of stuff virtually, which could be anybody , in the world, I do still really want to help local people because I like being in homes.

I like having local community. And so meeting people, getting my name out there, there I would like to do more more podcasts, things like that. 

Melissa Klug: [00:39:16] Where can we find you on the internet? I will tell you, and I’m not just saying this because you’re my guest. I love your Instagram. So, so much. It’s so calming and soothing. Like if you want an Instagram that is going to like lower your blood pressure immediately, it’s yours, in my opinion. So tell us where we can find you on the internet.

Melissa Keyser: [00:39:35] Oh, well, thank you. So I, my website and my Instagram is just my name, which was and I spell Keyser, K E Y S E R. And so, yeah. Instagram, Melissa Keyser. Yeah. I post a lot of pictures of my cat sitting in front of the woodstove and like me walking  is pretty much like what what’s going on right now on my Instagram.

Melissa Klug: [00:39:55] You know, that like way back in the Jon Stewart daily show days where they had the moment of Zen, it’s like, that’s what it is. This is very lovely. So when we can pretend like we live in the woods in Maine with you, yes, please. And we would love to keep up with what you’re doing this year. So we will definitely see you out there on the interwebs.

And thank you so much for joining us today and telling us so many interesting things about you. 

Melissa Keyser: [00:40:19] Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you so much for listening in to the pro organizer studio podcast. If you’d like to get our roadmap for success as a pro organizer, head straight to

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Photos of jen by ANGELA ZION