Jen Heard is a Professional Organizer, Coach, Speaker, App Creator and all-around mompreneur. Her complete work history and professional information can be found on her LinkedIn profile.
Her mission is to help people have more time and increased energy by simplifying and more effectively managing their time, space, and possessions. Jen started Clean Sweep Consulting, Inc. in 2006.
Clean Sweep is a professional organizing, move management and coaching company located in Rochester Hills, Michigan serving all of Oakland County, in the suburbs of NW Detroit. Jen Heard, MBA and her team of organizing professionals are dedicated to helping busy women and families who are preparing to sell their home easily list and sell for top dollar, while packing and moving at the lowest cost, and entering the new space without chaos or clutter.
Clean Sweep’s mission is to take a holistic, concierge-style approach to the challenges of the busy lives we lead, clearing out the excess stuff we all possess, making each of us as efficient and free as we can be while helping local community charities make a difference for those they serve.
Jen has recently been the President of NAPO Michigan for 2 years (NAPO is the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, and can be found at www.napo.net or www.napomichigan.com.)
Jen’s BIG NEWS is that she has created a website (www.lovebigger.com) with a corresponding APP called LOVEBIGGER ™. Both are currently in development and slated to launch in January, 2023 to help people efficiently downsize while equitably and sustainably distributing their little-used items to the local charities of their choice.
Jen lives in Rochester Hills, MI with her fiancé, Rick, her daughter, two step-kids, her step-cat and near to her dear family.
Jennifer M. Heard, MBA Mobil/Text: 248-931-3325
Private E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram: @jennnheard @cleansweepconsulting @lovebiggerofficial
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: [00:00:15] Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Clean Sweep Consulting and Love Bigger, Ms. Jen Heard. How are you?
Jen Heard: [00:00:33] Hi there, Stone. Doing great. Thanks for having me.
Stone Payton: [00:00:35] Oh, it is my pleasure. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation. I got a ton of questions. We probably won’t get to them all, but I think a good place to start would be if you could articulate for me and our listeners mission purpose, what are you really out there trying to do for folks?
Jen Heard: [00:00:56] Well, as a professional organizer on the first part of my life, I started out helping people organize their homes, just get things straight. And then it evolved over the years. And now what I really do and what I’ve really honed in on is helping people charitably downsize. So what my market ended up becoming and what I really love is working with people who are getting rid of stuff to sort of get really clear on their own mission. And that’s become my mission. And then I help them find charities that they can get on a mission with as well. So in their local area, there might be a charity that supports maybe something in their life that they’ve been through themselves. And that’s always a great way to get back. And it really motivates people to let go of things and get tuned in with what they really want in their home. So that’s the main crux of my being right now. And we’ll talk about some other things, I’m sure, down the course, the interview.
Stone Payton: [00:01:49] But what a marvelous idea and a terrific service. Take me back to the beginning. What’s the backstory? How did you get involved in this line of work in the first place?
Jen Heard: [00:02:01] Oh, I was born to an OCD mom and became one of myself. That’s really how it started. I always said to people, Just put my OCD to work for you while I’m here because I don’t sit still. Well, I never have. So when I was in high school, I nanny for about 15 families. Well, it started out as one or two. And then, of course, they told you friends and they told two friends because they’d come home and all the cans and the pantry be lined up and all the kids toys and the whole house would be wiped down clean. So they were like, This babysitter actually works. So yeah, so that that was how it turned out. I ended up with a lot of families that I worked for and I got really good at it. And then when my daughter was little, I wanted the flexibility of time. That was the biggest thing. I moved back to Michigan when she was five and I said, You know, I’m going to make a list. What do I love doing? What do I have so much fun doing? And the biggest part of that was being involved with families, helping them out with their kids, their busy lives, and just making things nice for them. I just that’s my wiring. So I absolutely love what I do. I’ve loved it for over 15 years now and counting.
Stone Payton: [00:03:10] So as a couple, a husband and wife, family, as they’re thinking about maybe engaging a professional organizer or there are certain, I don’t know, milestone events, times in their life times of the year that are man, you really this is a really good time to reach out and consider doing that.
Jen Heard: [00:03:30] Yeah, it’s interesting. When you do this for so many years, you see the cycles throughout the year, the seasonality of it. There’s really two big seasons for us. Obviously holiday up and down. We we set up everyone’s holiday displays and help them store all the stuff away when it’s over and also integrate gifts and things that may have entered the home and get rid of some things that maybe now can move out of the home. So those type of seasonal events are great change in closets, in and out in the spring and fall women love. But the big season for us is always moving season, especially being a downsize for the realtors. Start calling us about this time of year mid February when we get a 50 degree day and they’re like, When can you start on these five houses we want to list in the spring. So we get really busy with helping people clear and depersonalized, get ready for pictures and all of that. So we have a really busy spring and summer all the way through that moving season too, because we pack them and unpack them and all that. So yeah, Summers are busy.
Stone Payton: [00:04:30] So working with realtors, was that a strategic decision or did that just sort of evolve somehow You got an opportunity and said, Oh wow, this is a great way to.
Jen Heard: [00:04:41] I learned how to do it when I lived in Arizona, when my daughter was little. I worked at two real estate offices and I helped all of the realtors prep homes for sale in Phenix when things were running up like crazy. We were prepping seven and ten houses a week to list that week, and it was crazy. So I got really quick and really good at learning what they needed to show and not show and how to make rooms look bigger, how to make spaces look clearer. Just in a real quick sweep. So that’s why I named it Clean Sweep. Ultimately, when I decided what I love to do, I thought, well, I do kind of cut a swath through space, so let’s let’s go with the operating theme. So. So that was the name, but. It’s it really came from that.
Stone Payton: [00:05:21] So how does the balance of the sales and marketing process work for you? Is it all referral based or do you do you get out there and shake the trees a little bit with some marketing and promotion and that kind of thing?
Jen Heard: [00:05:33] I do. I use my social media well, more and more so lately. I used to be a total chicken with that, but I have been using reels on Instagram and all kinds of fun things which I’ve learned in recent months. Prior to that, it was it was going out and meeting people, walking into an assisted living and saying when people are ready to move here and their families are having those tribulations of what to bring and how to get them to let go of all the other stuff, that’s not going to fit here, call us. And so we got a lot of referrals that way. Realtors, because I had worked at those real estate offices, so I was used to that environment. So I just moved back here and started talking to realtors just because that was my current skill set and most recent thing I had been doing. So I let them know about it. And then I had all 15 of those families that I used to work for. When I came back, probably 75% of them engaged me again in some capacity, and still I work for their kids or grandkids, their cousins. So yeah, families share me. I just get passed around. But that’s fun, you know? I know them all. I know the grandparents.
Stone Payton: [00:06:39] I find, and I get it. I have the luxury of getting a chance to talk to a lot of very accomplished people, and they’re always so passionate about the work that they’re doing, from consultants to practitioners in a specific domain. And almost in every case, there are myths or misconceptions or preconceived notions that the lay person in the market is holding, and it often requires some education or some recentering. Or are there some myths in your world as well?
Jen Heard: [00:07:08] Yes. Well, there are strong opinions in the organizing field one way or the other, but I am very holistic and very into sustainability, so I am not a big fan that buying more plastic containers will fix your problem, because I think a lot of people think an organizer is going to come in and take my pantry and make all these nifty plastic containers in here and all that.
Stone Payton: [00:07:30] Well, there goes my container store sponsorship.
Jen Heard: [00:07:32] Yeah, well, no, I love them because they carry people like Marie Kondo who have a sustainable line that’s made all of them. Bu they’re, they’re getting very smart about it. So don’t I shop at Container Store? But I use the materials that I want to use because things that go into landfills that are plastic, you know, they never degrade, they don’t go away. And so there’s a lot of waste there. But a lot of times people don’t realize that you can use what you have. A lot of times you have so much there to already work with that you don’t even realize. So that’s one of the things I do is I try to use what we have at hand. So I’m very cost effective that way. I think people expect organizers to be very expensive because of that, and we’re not necessarily they also expect some degree of judgment or, you know, coming in and telling them you’re going to do it this way. And they’re very trepidatious about shame and blame and that kind of thing. And one of the biggest things you learn in doing this for a number of years is that you really have to set all all judgment aside and figure out where the person is and where they want to go and enter their world.
Jen Heard: [00:08:38] It’s not even about at all what I would want to do in the situation. I might make recommendations, but you’ve got to empower your client, your customer, to really make the choices with what they want to live with and how they want to do it, because they have to on an ongoing basis, unless you plan on being back there every week. So that’s that’s a few of the misconceptions that people have about that. And some people really, you know, the stories people tell themselves are very interesting. They’ll say, well, I didn’t grow up that way. I just have no concept and I just I don’t get it. And they really shut themselves. They count themselves out of the equation and they don’t think they can sometimes just because of the nurture part of that, you know, and you can teach yourself to do anything. It’s the story you tell so and the story you want to tell with your space. If you have people in it, Right, what do you what do you want it to show them about you? And so you have to really work on shifting people’s mindset. That’s a huge part of what we do is, is mindset, mindfulness and really talking about those stories and things people repeat.
Stone Payton: [00:09:43] I’ll bet you learn a ton about people just because you’re so it’s such an intimate proposition, right? Working with people in their personal spaces. I bet you’ve become a real student of human emotion, human behavior, that kind of thing, haven’t you?
Jen Heard: [00:10:01] Mm hmm. Yeah. A lot of people say things that re injure themselves over and over, and that’s something you run into a lot. And I really try to work with the positive mindset with people and talk to them about why they’re holding on to something. And is it more injurious? Is it doing more harm than good? I mean, I can’t tell you the number of things I found in people’s personal spaces that they show themselves every day over and over. And it’s almost like a self harming behavior. So there’s there’s a lot of things to work on with people on how to safely and kindly remove those damaging things and really reset their thought process when they get up in the morning, give themselves really clear, nice. Sometimes people move their whole business into their bedroom, you know? Let’s talk about that. Why is that? Why? What’s the intimacy issue? Yeah. We get into so much stuff.
Stone Payton: [00:10:54] Oh, bet. So. Have you had the benefit of one or more mentors as you’ve grown your business because you’re out there? I mean, a lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs. You know, I’m a business owner. It’s and I know that we’ve had the luxury of some really great mentors. If you had some folks that kind of have helped you navigate that terrain.
Jen Heard: [00:11:16] I would say the most wonderful thing I could have done for my business, especially starting out and in recent years again, was to join NAPO, which is the National Association of Productivity Organizing Professionals. But I learned a lot. They have a lot of very basic training modules and it kind of filled in any gaps that I had. And then in recent years I’ve helped write the curriculum that they actually train organizers with across the country on how to style a home for sale on productivity. I did their productivity curriculum with two other women, wonderful women. But having those relationships and that rapport, plus it gives us an opportunity if we have a question, if anyone’s ever encountered this before, etc. We have boards where we can post confidentially and and get feedback from all the different people around the country. We have a global chapter online too, that meets, and that’s really fun at the virtual chapter. And so you can go there and ask questions from all over the world. But different cultural distinctions, anything you might run across.
Stone Payton: [00:12:16] What a marvelous resource. That is fantastic.
Jen Heard: [00:12:20] Yeah, it’s wonderful.
Stone Payton: [00:12:22] And I did not realize that you had written different pieces of curricula for some of this stuff. I did know, or I thought I remembered in my show notes that you have written a book. Tell us a.
Jen Heard: [00:12:35] Little bit more.
Stone Payton: [00:12:35] About that.
Jen Heard: [00:12:36] Oh, it’s at the editor. It’s almost done. Oh, I will. I will have it back in about a week. So, yeah, very excited about it. It’s a sort of story from the front kind of book. There’s 12 chapters that encompass different themes of things that I’ve encountered over the years in the course of doing this. And there are certain things that just really, as I was thinking about it during COVID that really sprung to mind as this is something people need to talk about or get to talk about when they maybe have a small group of women that meet or book clubs or that kind of thing. So I wrote it with that in mind and I wrote it with discussion in mind, but I told stories of things that I’d encountered. Obviously, names and dates were changed to protect the disorganized. You know, you get the gist of what occurred, and then it has a sort of a workbook treatment to it. So you finish that theme, that chapter, and you have things to discuss with your group or even just do on your own and work through. So I put it together. So it was like a learning tool, but also something you could use to talk about certain subjects with your family or friends or whoever is having that issue, you know?
Stone Payton: [00:13:47] So did it.
Jen Heard: [00:13:48] Draw on this?
Stone Payton: [00:13:49] Did the book come together pretty easily, or were there some parts that were super easy and other parts that you stayed up late at night and you were scratching your head and trying to figure out what to put on the page? What was the process of writing the book like for you?
Jen Heard: [00:14:01] I got a great coach. I did. I got a book coach and she worked on it. But we did a lot of Zoom calls where we talked through a lot of it before I put it all to paper, or I would write a section and we would meet and go through. So I had support with that because I wanted to be careful. There’s a couple of subjects in there that could be touchy with people, just about some of the personal things you want to cross. And so I wanted to make sure I treated that carefully and that it wasn’t I didn’t want to come off sounding opinionated like I was putting my opinion on it. I wanted to make it an open ended discussion. So it was great to have another person to bounce that off of. And her husband read it, too, and he loved it, which I thought, Oh, this is cool. I got I got the men on my side, too, you know?
Stone Payton: [00:14:45] Yeah, well, that’s great to know. I will share with. I think I was my shared with you off air. In fact, it was the way I got into this business was I self-published a book a long, long time ago, Jen, when I had black hair. And one of my experiences wasn’t it had some success in the marketplace. But if every copy that I printed in that first printing, if it had remained in Mom’s garage and we were the only two that ever read it, I still would have counted it a positive experience because I felt like it helped me get a better handle on the work and help me crystallize and solidify and articulate my work. Has that been your experience as well?
Jen Heard: [00:15:24] Yeah, because in this business, every day is so different. You’re kind of just in the moment, day to day. But when you do something that crystallizes some of these things, like you look at these overarching themes and you’re like, Well, how do I really feel about that? How, how, what do I want to impress upon people was important about encountering that. You know, I had I had patients or patients, clients, they sort of were like patients. Two of them were hoarders. Over the course of years, I’ve had a number of them. I did the show for A&E a number of years ago, 2011. Wow. And after that, I intermittently would hear from people that knew me and refer me fire marshals, different people like that, the church. And so I’d go into situations and two of the hoarders actually died in their homes in the course of us trying to help them. So it was very there was a lot of things I had to work out with that because you know how guilty you feel that you couldn’t help them soon enough, you know, all those sorts of things. Yeah. So it was a lot of a lot of time just looking back and then thinking in the future, what what do people really need to learn from this? I learned so much from doing this in the course of years. So what do people really need? What can I help give people a leg up on so they don’t have to go through all this other stuff that people have gone through in the past? So that’s how it’s been developed and I’m pretty proud of it. I think it’s going to be really good. It’s going to go along with the app very well.
Stone Payton: [00:16:48] So what an exciting time and I want to talk about that app in a few minutes. But you mentioned a moment ago COVID did the lockdown. Surely it had to have an impact on your business. Is that accurate? And if so, how did you respond to that?
Jen Heard: [00:17:04] Well, we all many of us worked during COVID. Some of the organizers, the ones that have cleaning services, they were in cleaning offices, 24 seven. I mean, the offices had the men all the time sanitizing and oh.
Stone Payton: [00:17:16] Yeah, yeah.
Jen Heard: [00:17:17] They had more work than they could handle. Others of us that weren’t cleaning services, I got called from a lot of clients who had parents maybe in assisted living and facilities here in the area because they wouldn’t let family members in, but they would let organizers in. So we were working in a lot of the facilities and the assisted living scenarios. I was dropping off food. I mean, you name it, If someone called me from out of state and said, Remember me, Mom’s in such and such, you helped us move, or could you go and do X or we’re moving her out of this facility into another one? So we did a lot of moves. It wasn’t as much. We weren’t as busy as we normally work, but we didn’t completely stop.
Stone Payton: [00:17:58] And did that also present the opportunity? Is that is that about when in the timeline you started developing this app that you briefly mentioned a moment ago?
Jen Heard: [00:18:07] I don’t sit still. Well so when I had downtime, how am I going to take my 1 to 1, my helping this little person here and this little person here and make it a one to many model, like there’s a way to do this. And I started to write down what the biggest problems were, what the biggest impediments were to people letting go of stuff. Hmm. And and also I started to really think about because we would hear during COVID about everybody having a glass of wine and just shopping online. I thought with all of that coming in, by the time this thing ends, they’re going to be mired down in their houses and where is it going to go? So so there were two parts to that. It was like problematic, you know, And people as they age, they don’t want to get rid of all their wonderful stuff that accumulated. But if you if you love your stuff so much, you can love people with your stuff even better and even bigger. And that was what ended up coming out and becoming the app. So the app is a matching service, not unlike, for example, like an open table does for restaurants. It’s a matching service for people looking for a certain type of charity or to place specific objects with charities. And then the charities can also say, Hey, you’ve got a bed, I’ve got someone who needs a bed. I would love to get that from you. So we’re creating community. We’re creating a network that works so people actually know what charities are looking for and what they need, and a way for charity. Sometimes when they get glutted with things they don’t need, they can go look and say, Hey, I see you guys need this care. So it’s it’s going to help so many people. It’s going to help organizers, it’s going to help movers, it’s going to help the junk lovers who want to be more sustainable. All those people find places to put things that still have life in them rather than in a landfill, which just gets my goat.
Stone Payton: [00:19:50] Personally, I love this idea. So are we prelaunch? Is it out there?
Jen Heard: [00:19:54] Once it’s in beta, we have passed our security test. We have applied to the the App Store and the Google Play store and we are in our beta starts Monday with our first cohort of 25 on the donor side, and we’ll do a test on the charity side subsequent to that. So in a couple of weeks. So yeah, we’re, we’re there. We’re just, just growing.
Stone Payton: [00:20:19] Yeah, Well congratulations and we want to continue to follow the story. So maybe we swing back around and we talk about it. Maybe we even have you and someone you’re collaborating with on the show to talk about that, that collaboration.
Jen Heard: [00:20:33] So yeah, outside.
Stone Payton: [00:20:35] I know you got a lot of irons in the fire and maybe you occasionally have some, some other time to, to invest outside the scope of the work that we’re talking about. Is there anything you have a tendency to to nerd out about, like a whole nother hobby That’s just like for me, I like to hunt and fish. Most of my listeners know that, but not everybody does. And that’s my thing. My wife is real artsy. She Is there something that you have a tendency to nerd out about that really doesn’t have anything to do with organizing or well.
Jen Heard: [00:21:04] Besides self-help books, which I, I love to read. I’m a big reader, but I constantly like my Naperville friends. My organizer friends will tell you I was president for two years and I was like, Have you read this? Have you seen that? I’m just a big book person, but I I’m on the board for our local nature center here, and I’m a big bird fanatic, so. Oh, yeah, we have a bird banding. We do maple tapping, which is coming up. We have a forest to table dinner every year now with local chefs that do farm to table cuisine kind of things. So it’s really fun. It’s very holistic as sort of my thing, sort of my shtick. But but it’s a fun group of people and it’s where I, I used to take my daughter growing up. I used to take her hiking all through there. And we’re very outdoorsy. We camp, we own campgrounds. So we have a couple of those two in the family. Oh, my, we’re outdoorsy.
Stone Payton: [00:21:59] I can see that. And I often ask my guest to share a couple, two or three pro tips and whatever their expertise is. And I’m interested in any pro tips you might share with those of us who want to get more organized. I mean, the the primary pro tip gang is reach out to Jen, have a conversation with her or somebody on her team and so interested in a Pro Tips. But above and beyond that, you’ve actually crafted kind of a job aid, a tool to help guide people through that. So so speak to that as well.
Jen Heard: [00:22:32] I do have a fun little freebie PDF on my website. My website is clean sweep consulting, dot net and on there on our home page, there’s a you can click the link and get a link to the 101 things you can get. You can downsize today. You can easily purge from your home, from your space. And so it’s just a starter list. It’s just one of those brain dumps that I did. One day I thought, Oh yeah, I can get going on this. And I got on a roll, so I give that out. It a lot of my presentations and I think the other pro tip is get creative. You know, we had a gentleman whose wife had passed on and he had the stories in the book, but I’ll make it in a nutshell. And he wanted to he hired me to help rehome items before he passed away because he was starting to decline. So we went his. My daughter and I. And we went through his items and we found that he had these beautiful 1950s hats, ball gowns, gloves, all these things. We found local theaters. They wanted them and the theaters had costume collections. And they were doing a show like literally 30 days after that where they needed the hats and the gloves and whatnot. And they gave him free tickets. So he got to donate the items to the costume collection so they could be used on an ongoing basis. And he got to go to the show. So there’s ways to be super creative, make a phone call, ask a question. You know, there’s lots of places like that in your area that you can you can offload some things to, but have a really good feeling about what it’s used for.
Stone Payton: [00:24:04] What a terrific and inspiring story. And you’ve added to my vocabulary re home. I like that we’re going to rehome this this item. And I mentioned briefly that my wife was really into the theater and the arts and all that stuff. I mean, she would be that’s a marvelous idea.
Jen Heard: [00:24:21] Oh, yeah. Especially because some of the shows that are older, they need period clothing. Yeah.
Stone Payton: [00:24:27] Yeah.
Jen Heard: [00:24:28] So it’s amazing with the aging population how you can get your hands on some amazing things. And there’s costume rentals that take military uniforms and all kinds of things like that, which I’ve run across many times. So I have my little spots that I go to and things like that. But you can be super creative with where the things go. Just think outside the box a little bit.
Stone Payton: [00:24:50] Yeah. So what’s next? It sounds like you got a lot going on with the app and the book coming out. Are there any designs on, I don’t know, replicating this and having the, you know, the Jen Herd methodology licensed out there to other organizers? I don’t know what’s what’s next down the road, do you think?
Jen Heard: [00:25:06] I have coached a number of startup organizers and that’s a blast and it’s really and the nice thing is if I get a really big project, I know I can call them because I train them.
Stone Payton: [00:25:15] Say, Yeah.
Jen Heard: [00:25:17] Let’s do this. So so that’s been a really great part of that. But yeah, at some point do that. I think what I’ll probably do first is take the book and the 12 week program and, and turn that into more of a coaching program where I actually interact. I love facilitating groups. It’s a blast. So I’ve done a lot of it in my past, in my work history. So I think I will do something where I’m having some fun meetings and groups and discussions about what we talk about in there.
Stone Payton: [00:25:45] Well, I’m quite sincere. We want to continue to follow this story, so I hope you’ll come back and visit with us at various spots as this as this unfolds. All right. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you, access the book app. But, you know, maybe at this point, just have a conversation with you or begin that relationship, whatever you think is appropriate, email, LinkedIn, website, whatever works for you. Sure.
Jen Heard: [00:26:08] Well, I am on LinkedIn, I am on Facebook, I am on Instagram, I am and I’m on Twitter. But you can find clean sweep consulting. Dot net is the web page. That’s really where you can sign up for my email list and receive ongoing information about organizing, coaching, the book, etc. on that side. And then the app is just at love big or dot com. And so you can go there to get on the mailing list so you’ll know when we’re coming to your city. We’re going to roll out sort of big city by big city and then state. So we’ll be announcing the cities coming up in Detroit is the number one because that’s where we are. And so that’ll be very soon this spring.
Stone Payton: [00:26:45] Well, Jen, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show. Thanks for sharing your insight and your perspective. This this has been informative, inspiring And like I said, I’ve added to my vocabulary. I’m going to think about rehoming some some items. I’m going to feel so smart when I go talk to Holly about this, but know the work you’re doing is so important and it’s impacting so many different lives in so many ways. Please keep up the good work and let’s let’s do stay connected. Thank you for joining us.
Jen Heard: [00:27:16] Thank you, Stell. Thanks for having me.
Stone Payton: [00:27:18] My pleasure. All right. Until next time, this is Stone Payton for our guest today, Jen Hurd with Clean Sweep Consulting and Love Biggar and everyone here at the Business Radio X family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.