I recently received an e-mail from Amy Gray. She told me my closets were dusty. How did she know, I wondered? She really wasn’t being rude. The e-mail was actually for clients and friends of Empty Your Nest Professional Organizing
Amy has been in an organizer for about two years, but last month she bought into Empty Your Nest, joining Daisha Kissel and taking the place of Sandra Andrews-Strasko, who left Seattle for Israel and Germany with her husband, Paul, who is studying for the rabbinate (profiled on Dec. 16, 2006.)
Amy had already formed a collegial relationship with Empty Your Nest. “Being an organizer, you’re working with clients and don’t have colleagues to bounce ideas off. I was invited to sit in on meetings of Empty Your Nest, then started meeting them every Monday about 10 months ago, so I was familiar with the company.
“I’ve been an organizer of people, places and things in all my 25-year career,” Amy adds, in television production, patient education, freelance writing and as a Web site administrator.
In addition to helping clean out houses and offices, Empty Your Nest works with those who have medical problems, including brain injuries, anxiety disorders, hoarding issues and Attention Deficit Disorder.
“Sometimes clients are panicky and anxious about throwing stuff away,” explains Amy. “Objects…are loaded with meaning, good, bad or otherwise. That’s why it is so hard to get rid of stuff.” But, she says, “the act of clearing clutter releases space emotionally and physically.”
Kissel is the person who works with those with chronic disorganization.
“Daisha is so passionate about it that we will lower our hourly rate because we know it will be a several years’ project,” Amy says.
Amy got a different perspective on Americans’ relationship to their stuff when she went on a service mission Muchaucuxacah, Mexico with a group from Seattle’s Temple Beth Am. To begin with, “you can imagine how bewildered [the villagers] were when I explained my job.” Most of the residents of this remote Yucatan village have only “a hut and a fire pit.”
“They want more stuff,” Amy observes, “but they live at poverty level…they use everything until it’s completely gone, whereas we just toss things in the garbage right and left.”
A former Beth Am board member, Amy now sings in their choir. She co-founded Camp Kesher, a yearly Jewish family camp, with Esther Schorr of Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue. She and her husband Jim have two teenage children, who are just beginning to pay attention to mom’s organizing advice.
“Both kids asked me to set up filing systems for schoolwork,” she marvels.
For more information about Empty Your Nest you can contact Amy at 206-719-7525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Lovely,” is the word that comes to my mind when I drop by Fresh, the Wedgwood neighborhood gift shop Wendy Schwartz opened a few months ago with her business partner, Julia Marconi.
“We are a lifestyle boutique,” explains Wendy. “We carry apparel, home and gifts. We want to be the nice place in the neighborhood that can cater to most of your gift-giving needs.”
With her extensive retail background (including merchandising work for Calvin Klein, Guess Jeans and Quiksilver), Wendy saw an opportunity when a new retail building went up in the 7300 block of 35th Avenue NE in Seattle. “It was the magical combination of the right concept and the right location at the right time,” she told me.
Wendy and Julia met five years ago when their daughters were in kindergarten at View Ridge Elementary School. They are careful to only sell things they themselves would want.
“I have to like it,” says Wendy, “it has to have a certain je ne sais quoi, the right look, the right style.” They seem to have a little of everything, from the simple — such as long matches in decorative boxes (my favorite) and candles — to cast aluminum serving dishes and utensils by Mariposa, to jewelry, handbags and baby items.
Fresh carries a small selection of Jewish items. Their Rosh Hashanah window display featured a Star-of-David-shaped platter piled with apples, a jar of honey, candlesticks and a kids’ holiday puzzle. Hanukkah items are already in the storeroom.
Wendy showed me a Mariposa dreidel paperweight and napkin set as an example of what will appear in the store shortly. (Yellow alert: Hanukkah is “early” this year!) And a few women from the neighborhood’s growing Orthodox community have stopped by to check out Fresh’s selection of longer skirts, says Wendy.
Wendy, her husband David and two kids belong to Temple Beth Am. David has served on the Wedgwood community council and is on the board of Camp Solomon Schechter.
“It was important for me to do something in the neighborhood I live in and be part of the community,” states Wendy. “We’re thrilled to be here.”
You can call the store at 206-522-3774, or visit their blog at www.freshseattle.com. Fresh is open every day.