Holiday Gift Guide: Girl Gang Crafts
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Daily Inspiration: Meet Danica Carson
Local Stories with VoyageDallas
Today we’d like to introduce you to Danica Carson.
Hi Danica, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I graduated from UC Berkeley. In 2020, right before lock down my husband got a job here in DFW. I was pregnant with our son, Rowan. The country went into lockdown, and being pregnant, we didn’t want to risk traveling, so we bought a house remotely in May and moved in July 3rd.
Hack Decks came about from another business my mom and I run. We have a professional organizing company called The Uncluttered Life. We have extensive experience in organization – complete with a Master Level distinction in the KonMari Method (Marie Kondo’s method). I came up with our first deck, Declutter Deck®, as a way to help our clients stay organized and for other people trying to get organized. Not everyone has the budget to hire professional organizers, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to having an organized and functional home. We distilled all of our knowledge into Declutter Deck® to come up with mini-organizing prompts to help people who don’t know where to start or what to do to get their homes in order.
After launching Declutter Deck®, I decided to create our second deck, Date Deck. My husband and used to do something fun and new every weekend, and with lockdown and being new parents, we weren’t getting to do that much. Not to mention, we were in a new state, and we had no idea what there was to do or where to go. So, I put 52 of my favorite types of dates that we used to go on down on paper and turned them into date idea prompts, and we slowly got to know the area and fell in love with DFW. The best thing about Date Deck, in my opinion, is that it removes the work associated with having fun. No endless scrolling or trying to figure out what to do. Just a simple prompt to guide you on your date adventure. It removes the pressure and mental fatigue that comes with having an endless list of things to get done and wanting to maximize your personal time.
We also recently launched Dorm Deck, a deck designed to help college freshmen thrive during their first year of college.
Next month, we will be launching our New Mama Deck. This deck is so close to my heart, and I can’t wait for it to come out. It’s all about taking care of yourself after you have a baby so that you can enjoy this stage of life instead of getting through it. Mama matters, too!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, definitely not smooth. Though, I can’t imagine it ever is for anyone starting a business. We had to fight for trademarks and copyrights, change the name of some decks, and even company! But here we are, and we got everything we needed.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I have always been very design-oriented. I studied design and was even an art major for a while before switching to an interdisciplinary major. I always found being creative to be very fulfilling. I’ve worked in social media and built websites, and I truly enjoy it. When covid started, everyone started organizing their homes, and I ended up getting into something I call “decor-organizing.” All that means is that I like to make functional organization pretty. I use decor to hide organization or enhance it. That’s how I ended up a professional organizer. We have recently been awarded the Decorganize trademark, and I'm very proud of that.
Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out.
You’re never going to know everything you need to know. Just start and figure it out as you go. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn.
Conversations with Cathy Orr
Local Stories with VoyageDallas
Today we’d like to introduce you to Cathy Orr.
Hi Cathy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have always been interested in home organizing in one form or another my entire life. I was on the organizing bandwagon long before “spark joy” or any of the current trends in organizing were a “thing." In fact, my background in anthropology was probably my lead-up to organizing. Cultural anthropology focuses a lot on classifying things/people/behaviors into categories. My mind just thinks like this.
I became a Marie Kondo consultant in September 2019, and since that time have risen from the “green” level to Certified Master. A certified Master is the culmination of client hours equal to 1500+ hours of organizing. In fact, I have many more than the 1500 required for this certification. I have been organizing, in one form or another, for the past twenty years.
I look at home organizing and what Marie Kondo calls “tidying” as a way to make sense of your life. Life is chaotic, and keeping things straight makes all the difference in the world. That means instead of your things looking like hodgepodge, your life flows. You know why you own what you have and why you have it. The rest is just clutter and a distraction. Of course, there are always those few things that you just need to keep, but they are secondary to surrounding yourself with only the things that make you happy. I believe that a person’s environment should reflect who they are now rather than who they used to be or hope to be someday. This actually brings our clients a lot of happiness and peace.
There are 22 Marie Kondo home organizing consultants in the state of Texas. Of those, there are seven who are in the local DFW area. Of those, I am one of two Certified Masters who works locally in the DFW area. I work with my daughter, who has been the recipient of years of organization training by me. To say that efficiency and productivity run through our family is an understatement.
In addition, I hold two master’s degrees, one in Medical Anthropology and another in Health Policy and Law, from UC San Francisco. I have worked in the healthcare field, directly with Medicare and State agencies, and as a Patient Advocate. I am, for that reason, considered a medical paperwork expert.
I can help seniors who are downsizing or with medical bill organization. In other words, I know what medical information/bills to keep, discard, pay and what is not their responsibility. I have also volunteered both for the State of California and Texas for HICAP, which is the free Health Information, Counseling, and Advocacy Program of Medicare. I’m trained in Medicare policy from the legal/medical perspective at UCSF and am able to guide seniors in figuring out medical paperwork messes. This is especially helpful for adult children of seniors who may need direction when closing out an estate or assisting an aging or ill parent. I understand the medical nuances of healthcare billing.
A businesswoman at heart, in 2019, I launched The Uncluttered Life, Inc., an organization company with my daughter. We taught people the Marie Kondo organization technique, organized homes, and built our business in California. In 2021 we moved the business to Texas when we decided, after the pandemic, to be closer to family.
After seeing a shift during the pandemic, with my daughter, we recently launched a line of prompt cards, including one called Declutter Deck®. Declutter Deck® prompt cards are sold individually on The Uncluttered Life, Inc. website (www.theunclutteredlife.com). These easy-to-perform card prompts (52 in each deck) help people get and stay organized after we organize and leave their space. Or individuals can tackle the job themselves without our help in short, 30-minute blocks of time. After working through the 52-card deck, their home is completely organized.
We also have a sister site, Hack Decks™ (www.lifehackdecks.com). On our Hack Decks™ site, we offer a number of similar prompt card decks that help with life hacks to simplify life’s transitional times. Whether it’s having a baby or going off to college, these prompt decks provide inspiration for keeping life as simple as possible during challenging times.
There is a theme that runs through everything we do. Simplify life. Lessen what makes you feel overwhelmed and fatigued. These decks, and our home organization service, provide more time to do the things you love. Too much “stuff” holds you down. We try to ease the pain points you may be feeling by maximizing your time without doing any extra work. It’s just that simple. And, as a bonus, all of it helps improve mental health.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
For sure, the pandemic was a struggle. We had gone from working in people’s homes to being unable to do that. For this reason, we developed an online organization product or virtual organization. With our online product, we can work virtually with clients to help them get their lives in order. We typically work with a client once a week, provide incentives to keep them moving, organization assignments, and help them pick out organization products. Then, virtually, we help them organize their homes and put everything away.
Because of the pandemic, we also thought that it would be important for people to be able to do things on their own. For this reason, we developed prompt decks. In particular, Declutter Deck® was good for people during the pandemic. That’s because people realized that their homes were simultaneously their living and workspace. The lines became blurred, and a lot of people had trouble relaxing at home. They always felt “on” and overwhelmed. Since the pandemic social distancing has eased, we find that a lot of people are still working from home. This virtual organizing option is great for those who have limited time and/or a limited budget. We try to make everything we do affordable, and this is particularly so.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am going to speak about my daughter in this section since I believe that she helps us distinguish our services from others. My daughter is an art major from UC Berkeley who comes with tremendous design experience. For that reason, we are not only able to organize a space; we are also able to make it beautiful. In other words, when we leave, the client has the “look” that so many people want. We can style an area (for example, a closet) to make it look like it’s right out of a showroom. This is a particular talent that she has. In tandem, we work particularly well together. I come with more of the organization background, and she comes with that design eye. The two meld beautifully.
For me, I was in the healthcare field for years, and I love paperwork. When we go into a person’s home, paperwork is a tough go for many. The saying goes that a single piece of paper takes up very little room. But, because people are so afraid to throw things away, they keep everything. And then, paperwork becomes monumental. Piles upon piles.
I am able to sort through that type of thing – the mounds of dreaded paperwork. I’ve done that for many people, and they are just so relieved once I leave. In fact, I’ve gone through boxes and boxes of paperwork, some of which requires a very keen eye. I am able to make sense of it all. And I also enjoy the process.
Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Marie Kondo and the KonMari organization deserve credit. They brought those of us who have always loved organizing into the mainstream. And they have given us a platform to help others.
In addition, Marie Kondo recently partnered with a company that helps make the most of a client’s wardrobe using AI. We will be participating in this unique concept that has the look and feel of shopping at Nordstrom, for example, using your own clothing. The concept will appear in Vogue and launch during New York Fashion Week. We are thrilled to help bring this to people in the DFW area.
I also love Karen Kingston, who was one of the pioneers in the field of organization and energy. Her book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is a huge inspiration to me.
I credit my yoga teacher for showing me Kingston’s book years ago and helping me understand energy flow. Energy gets stuck when you don’t discard and move things. I understand this on a very deep level.
I also thank my clients who have allowed us into their homes. It’s scary for people to go through their things. We absolutely understand that. And we appreciate that they are willing to take the risk to let us help.
And we also thank Denee from Inspired Closets DFW, who has allowed us to partner with her and her designers to organize closets after their installations on qualifying purchases
Especially, I credit my daughter for her hard work, insight, and vision. She is a true talent.