A new year often brings resolutions, and for many the main one is to try and sort out some of the clutter that has amassed at home. Whether it is bedroom wardrobes and drawers jam-packed with clothes, or a kitchen cupboard where you just can’t find anything, Karen Sloam believes that she can help you ‘declutter your schmutters’, and sort it out.

As a self-confessed ‘neat freak’ she really enjoys helping people in this way, and says that she actually finds cleaning very therapeutic. She believes that it is her mother who has influenced her to be so tidy. “I was brought up in a very tidy house, and my mother was very house proud, so I think that it has just rubbed off on me. Even now at 81, my mother still does all her own cleaning, which is very impressive, and I also do all my own cleaning because it is something that I enjoy doing.”

Karen’s love of cleaning and tidying is well known amongst her friends and family, and it is through helping a friend that she first got the idea for starting her own business, ‘Declutter Your Schmutters’. Karen explains, “My friend Stacey needed some help to clear out her garage. She runs her own business, and uses the garage for storage both for her business and personal stuff. Because she is always so busy, she never gets the time to properly sort it out, and she wasn’t really sure where to start, so I said I would help her out.” Karen was happy to assist, and cleared out everything from the garage before going through each item with Stacey to help her to work out whether she wanted to keep it or not, and also showed her ways to organise and label things to keep them tidy. The whole process took a few days working around Karen’s full time job, and Stacey was really pleased with the results. “Karen was really, really thorough, and very passionate, and made the whole experience so easy. When you have a busy working life, there is never enough time, but Karen was able to work through all my stuff really quickly and efficiently, and she really got stuck in. The results were amazing, and I would definitely recommend her to anyone who needs some help with decluttering.” After doing this, Karen realised how much she enjoyed it, and when other friends began asking for her decluttering services, her business began to take off.

Karen currently works full time as a teaching assistant at a Primary School, where she also likes to keep things as clean and tidy as possible. “I think I probably drive the children mad by constantly reminding them to tidy up and keep things clean, but it is a good thing to learn from a young age.” She originally started her career working as a PA for T-Mobile, but gave up work when she and her husband adopted their son, Max, 12 years ago when he was 17 months old. Once Max was older, Karen went back into work in a school so that she could work around her son’s school, and has been there for the past 8 years. Now that her son is in secondary school, she has more time to be able to devote to something for herself and is keen to take the next steps with ‘Declutter Your Schmutters’. “I love working with children, but feel that this is the right time to do something for myself and I really want to push the business.”

For Karen, no job is too small and she is happy to help people out with any kind of decluttering job from a few cupboards to a whole kitchen. She can even go into work environments, and help sort out office space. Her fees are calculated on an hourly rate, and booking is a minimum of 4 hours. Before giving a quote, she often recommends that she comes round to the house or office to fully assess the scale of the job, and what is required, but does not want people to be embarrassed about their mess. “When I go to visit people’s houses, I don’t judge at all. For me, the messier the better as it is a bigger challenge for me, and even more satisfying once I’ve finished.”

Although based in Shenley, she is happy to travel to properties around North London and Hertfordshire. When she comes to declutter, Karen brings all her own cleaning products, as well as black bin bags, pens, stickers (for marking up boxes), and even storage boxes if required. Not only does she help declutter and tidy up, but as part of her service she also takes away any rubbish, and is even happy to take any discarded items to nearby charity shops.

Karen believes that the secret to keeping things tidy is to make sure everything has a place, and to put it back as soon as you have finished using it, rather than leaving things out to put away later, or piling things up. “I am an extremely organised person and always do things as I go along. If I am cooking, I will wash up as I go, rather than leave it all until the end. Even after holidays, I get straight back into it, and don’t like to leave things. We once arrived home at around 12:30 at night from a holiday, and by 3am, I had unpacked all the suitcases, loaded the washing machine and put the cases away. It’s just how I am, and I can’t help it!”

Although Karen is very neat and tidy, she understands that for many people the hardest thing is often deciding what to get rid of, and what to keep when trying to declutter. “People usually say how difficult it is to throw things away, but I am able to offer a less sentimental viewpoint, which sometimes helps. Once they have done it, my clients are so thankful for my help, and really appreciate the extra space they have and the sense of order that having a tidy room gives. I have been described by some of my clients as a ‘real life Mary Poppins’ because I turn up and work my magic, and help them to take the stress out of their mess!”

If you would like Karen to come and work her magic at your home or office, she is currently offering a discount of an hour’s free cleaning (min of 4 hrs per booking) until the end of February. Please quote The Jewish Weekly when making the booking. Contact Karen on ksloam@aol.com, by phone on 07956422334, or check out her Facebook ‘Declutter your Schmutters’.

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