Tuesday Ten: Get to Know Professional Organizer Tara Bussema

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This week we’re back with our second installment of Tuesday Ten, this time with Portland-based Tara Bussema. I came across Tara via Pinterest and fell in love with her talent and eye immediately (just visit her website if you need further proof!). I immediately knew I wanted to include her in this series. Through emailing back and forth, I found out that she grew up just minutes away from where my brother-in-law and his family live. Talk about a small world! Without further adieu, I’m so excited for you to meet Tara!

Honey Hive Home: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Tara: My name is Tara Bussema and I founded Neat Organization and Design about two and a half years ago. I grew up in Long Beach, California but have resided in Portland, Oregon for the last year with my husband, Kevin.

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Top three words to describe yourself.
Intentional, relational, genuine.

What do you love most about being an organizer?
My favorite thing about organizing is the people. It is an honor to be in someone’s space working with them and their belongings. It is an intensely personal process. I love getting to know people, hearing their stories, and giving them a fresh start. I truly believe that the state of our space reflects the state of our heart and vice versa. Organizing is not just physical work. It is also emotional and even spiritual. I love taking this journey with people and ultimately, helping them lighten their load and start fresh.

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What do you find to be the most challenging?
Hmmm… good question. I would say the business end of things is the most challenging for me. Being a relational person, I am not great at marketing or self-promotion. 90% of my business has come by word of mouth, and I almost prefer it that way. As far as the actual process of organizing, the only part that can be a little challenging is entering a space for the first time and having to figure out where to begin. After that, the rest just flows.

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What advice do you have for a new professional organizer?
I would say to start by offering help to family and friends, especially those who are willing to spread the word. One of my best friends owns a mommy-n-me workout franchise. I organized and redesigned much of her house and she was absolutely crucial to the initial growth of my business. Also, take lots of before and after pictures and start using social media!

What about for someone thinking about hiring an organizer?
Organizing your own home can be absolutely overwhelming. It’s so easy to put it off or be paralyzed about knowing where and how to start! While it may not be your first choice to pay for help, the truth is that it will totally be worth it. Organization is not like re-decorating. It is not just an issue of whether your home is attractive or not. This is about your day-to-day ability to function efficiently in your home. It’s about feeling a sense of peace and calm in your space. It’s about saving time, reducing stress, and increasing enjoyment of your domain! Good organizers provide guidance, accountability, systems that are easy to maintain, and a fresh start! It’s like sending your house to therapy! 🙂

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What are your must-have products when organizing?
Good question! My personal basics are definitely a camera, measuring tape, and my trusty labeler. As far as must-have products I use in almost every home I organize… here’s the trifecta:

  1. These Handled Baskets from The Container Store – $3.99 to $4.99 – They are perfect for everything from organizing snacks in the pantry to making it easy to retrieve items stored up high. The handles make them easy to grab and return to their place.
  2.  Small to Large Lid Organizers like these from The Container Store – $3.99 to $4.99 – These are excellent for everything from pot lids, baking sheets and cutting boards to sorting and storing reusable bags, tupperware lids, purses, craft paper, etc!
  3. Turntables! Like this one from The Container Store – $5.99 – These are especially helpful in deep cabinets, high places and small spaces, where it is hard to reach in and find what you need. They are great for spices, jars and cans, water bottles, perfume, nail polish, vitamins, etc! You can use them in the refrigerator, pantry, and even under your bathroom sink!

What’s a favorite space you’ve organized?
I would say one of my favorite spaces I’ve done was also the most unique. I converted an overly packed coat closet into a crafting nook with a desk. Once other closets in the house were organized, we were able to clear out this particular closet and give a young mom her own space to keep crafting supplies and spend some much needed creativity time.

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What do you love most about where you live?
Portland is a great city. It’s the best of all worlds. Culture, nature, and great food and drink! We’ve lived here only slightly longer than a year, so we spend tons of time exploring. You can go to the amazing farmer’s market downtown, hike to a waterfall nearby, visit distilleries and breweries, pick from an unending number of amazing restaurants, and then finish off the day with some amazing Salt n Straw ice cream! And… it is just beyond beautiful here. We live up the street from Mt. Tabor, which is a forested, extinct volcano. I go for walks there frequently and I forget I’m in the city!

Please share your #1 tip for someone looking to get organized.
If you feel you can take on your home by yourself, my advice would be to start small. Focus on one area at a time. Set aside a few hours each weekend to organize a different space. Strangely, I recommend starting with the garage or basement. That’s where things tend to build up, and chances are, most of the stuff has been out there forever and you haven’t thought about it in years! Once that’s cleaned out, it will be much easier to organize and re-situate other items in your home. If you’re still overwhelmed, call a professional! We’re eager to help! 🙂

All photos provided by Tara Bussema.

Thanks so much for sharing, Tara! I particularly love her tip about starting to organize in the garage or basement. This will also give folks more space to spread out when organizing other areas! I also strongly agree that organizing is more than physical; as a person of faith, I definitely think that it can be a highly spiritual process.

What do y’all think? Aren’t Tara’s spaces just fantastic?!

Tuesday Ten is a series here on the Honey Hive Home blog. Each time, we’ll meet a professional organizer who will share interesting information + helpful tips, all via their responses to 10 questions.

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