The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Jenna Ducato: Jenna Ducato, 44, Chief Organizing Officer, Neatscapes LLC
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
JD: I’m a big fan of home improvement shows, and while they always make things look way too easy, the outcomes inspire me a lot. There is nothing better than seeing pure joy come over a homeowner’s face when they see a room that has been transformed…that’s what I want to deliver—those moments where a client goes from feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and/or unhappy to “Oh my gosh! I LOVE this!” or “I didn’t think I could get through all of this mess, but now it looks so nice!”
I also enjoy shopping in home and organizing stores, finding pieces of furniture, accessories or products that lend themselves well to making a room look better aesthetically, but also function better.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
JD: I see my work as an extension of myself and the Neatscapes brand, so I always aim to meet then exceed what the client’s goals are. While a huge part of organizing involves tidying anything from objects to data, there is often a very personal and often emotional side to it that I have a ton of respect for. Generating work I’m proud of means the client is happy, and I’ve earned their trust, which is a really special and not something I take lightly.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
JD: I have long aspired (and still do) to be more of a morning person, but biologically, I think my creativity usually starts to shine after a good cup of coffee, about 9am. Creativity also comes when I’m searching for sources of inspiration across digital mediums, like Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest, and a handful of blogs. My productivity hits its stride whenever I get going in a project, and there is enough movement happening in the organizing process to start seeing the outcome. That’s when I get a twinge of excitement, knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel-- I’m on the cusp of bringing calm, order and delight to the client.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
JD: I look forward to expanding my portfolio of before and after photos, growing my Instagram followers, and expanding my organizing “tool box” of techniques, philosophies and approaches—to make sure I’m growing professionally.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
JD: At the moment, I’m taking a breather on personal organizing projects, but recently I moved in with my boyfriend and there were a handful of organizing challenges to figure out, as it was a 1940’s house with very little storage. While my wardrobe is far from massive, I am a girl and I do like shoes…which was problem #1. We were fortunate to be able to add a closet to the downstairs basement that gave us both more room for our dressier clothes, so that we could have our day to day clothes upstairs and closest to us.
Problem #2 was how to transform what was an old workshop—complete with sawhorses, paint cans, a leaf blower, gardening supplies and every tool known to man, into a multi-purpose storage and workout area. Truthfully, my creative process began from sheer panic of not wanting to have a cluttered house with a hodgepodge of “stuff” everywhere. That was my main ground rule for the new “shop”—it had to have cabinets and closet doors so we didn’t have to see all of what was going to be stored. We bought relatively inexpensive cabinets from Home Depot and now have plenty of room for all the kitchen entertaining pieces (platters, big bowls, etc.) and a large closet with a hanging rod to hold all of our “off-season” clothing like bulky winter coats.
Problem #3 was the kitchen, which really lacked adequate counter and cabinet space. We changed out the cabinets, countertop and added a really fun glass tile backsplash in some neutral tones. I was in heaven once the cabinets were in and I could start organizing--putting all the plates, glasses etc. away. Kitchens are one of my favorite rooms to organize because they are such a vital room to the house, and really need to have good flow. The transformation from all the changes we made has been really incredible, and fortunately we’re still a couple even after all the hard work.
TCU: What scares you?
JD: Fear of failure is a biggie for me. It’s really an insidious mindset—it can paralyze me if I let it, so I have to take active steps to squelch it from overcoming me. Leaving a steady, well-paying corporate job to pursue this passion of mine was (and still is) terrifying. There are no guarantees to be had. But, I try to remind myself that there are no guarantees in whatever it is that you do, it’s just much more pronounced when you become an entrepreneur. The funny thing is, even if I don’t “make it” as a professional organizer, I know deep down it won’t mean really mean failure. It will just mean “keep going”. Back when I competed in triathlons, my peers and I used to remind ourselves that half the battle is just getting to the starting line; that alone takes courage. I think I’m at the starting line now, so I need to remember to give myself some credit for that. I also forget that while it doesn’t necessarily feel great, fear can also be a huge motivator for me. I never thought I could finish an Ironman, and had many times along that journey when I was unbelievably fearful of what the outcome could be. But somehow, I managed to keep going, keep pushing, and remembering the key message and title of a book ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, which was all about pushing past your comfort zone.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
JD: Showing up authentically in all areas of your life, and giving whatever it is that really moves you, your best shot—go all in. Saying ‘no more’ to the repeated patterns that no longer serve you. Reminding yourself that you only live once, and while it’s hard and scary to be courageous sometimes, I feel like that’s a big step toward opening your true self. The saying that ‘you never know until you try’ was nagging at me for a long time, so I decided to stop wondering, and stop letting the “what if’s” hold me back. I got tired of feeling like fear was winning.
I know I’m a very empathetic person- sometimes to a fault. I knew I wasn’t fully leveraging that character trait in my corporate career, and I noticed how different I felt when I was able to leverage it working with clients who were really having a hard time getting rid of clutter, or unsure of how to organize their home. If I can help my client feel that sense of relief, excitement, calm and joy that I know surfaces when a room is de-cluttered and organized, then I’ve been successful. Sometimes success comes in the form of a great testimonial from a client, a nice thank you, or simply a big smile.
If you want to learn more about Jenna and Neatscapes, head on over to www.neatscapes.net.