I don’t know about you, but I cannot function well in a cluttered space. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to work from home, the importance of having a space to think clearly increased exponentially. I will never again underestimate the joy and freedom a well-organized space can bring!
Cue Andrea Crouse, a professional chaos wrangler, aka professional organizer, founder/owner of Event Excellence. Andrea’s work background taught her valuable skills in project management, legal affairs, business planning, and more. But her true value is within herself: she has the power to take a messy room or a mess of ideas and corral them into coherence.
As a new entrepreneur, she faced the challenge of the pandemic, as well as some personal family health issues. She is a testament that a positive mindset and perseverance can help you overcome and thrive. She is living her life in gratitude, and shares her experience and extraordinary organizational skills with others. Her guiding principles are straight-forward: lead with love, help others, stay positive.
A master at organization, Andrea Crouse has always enjoyed putting order to chaos. Her desire to use her organizational skills for the better good led her to open her own business. In 2019, Andrea opened Event Excellence to deliver premium experiences through custom events and professional organization (of homes, offices, and more) to the Knoxville area.
Andrea packs 20 years of professional experience in a variety of fields such as Business & Legal Affairs, Affiliate Accounting, and Project Management.
She loves to help others and has years of experience with organizing and planning various events benefiting the community for non-profit organizations such as Toastmasters International, Women in Cable Telecommunications, and United Way. She is also the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association (an organization seeking to foster a greater understanding of the role of federal law enforcement in the community through frank discussion and education).
Oana Harrison: Tell me about your background and how it brought you to entrepreneurship.
Andrea Crouse: After I left my corporate position at a media company, I worked for a local non-profit, which services the community in four different areas: education, workforce, housing, and entrepreneurship. While I was there, I was able to take an entrepreneurship program, which is intensive; we met every Saturday for about five hours and then worked on assignments outside the class time. At the end, we had a business pitch contest where individuals are eligible to win anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 as a grant to start their business. Even if I was not eligible for the grant as an employee, I was still incredibly grateful to have received the training. It gave me the confidence to know that I wanted to be on my own as far as having a business.
I worked there for about three years and then, at the beginning of 2020, I took the leap to start my own business. And then COVID happened. I had to restructure my business to adapt to the restrictions, while taking care of my mom who was fighting cancer. Thankfully, we got through that successfully and I relaunched my business in November of last year. I structured it to where I am a professional organizer; previously, I did a wide variety of administrative services, such as creating flyers, scheduling meetings, taking meeting minutes, doing presentations, conducting research, but then there was an increased need for people to organize their homes, given the work from home trend. When I relaunched, I did my own website and I was pretty much a one woman show as far as taking care of all the marketing and everything else except for the accounting, for which I got help. It’s been a slow start and I am still doing it part-time only, but I have room to grow my clientele.
OH: What inspired you to start this kind of business, especially covering such a wide array of organizing projects?
AC: I love organization: whether it’s a project, or paperwork, or a closet. I love anything that has to do with organizing and I’ve always excelled at it. When I look at my past experiences that’s basically what I have come in and done: I’ve taken an issue or an idea, then I thought about it, researched it, and then I made it happen. I’ve done everything from writing business plans to organizing ideas by looking at things from a wider perspective. I really just wanted to find my purpose and lead with love. With all the negative interactions in society and politics, I just wanted to step away and step into my own. I know that life is the way it is, but I wanted to lead my life with love and bring this as my contribution, as my service to the community: doing what I know in a loving way for the benefit of others.
For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.Benjamin Franklin
OH: Along the same lines, how can you tell that you and your business are impacting someone’s life for the better?
AC: I can tell by someone’s body language and by their energy and the energy of the space. When I first come in, I usually see them all stressed out by the disarray or clutter, not being able to find things, wasting time looking for something, instead of freeing up their time and mind to do their work or spend time with their loved ones, undistracted. Some clients feel embarrassed about not being able to organize their space better, or not having the time to do so. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about—life happens and we all have our things that we’d like to improve. We are often our own worst critics but that’s not constructive. I come in and put a better system in place, which gives them more time to do the things that they really love instead of feeling bad about what they are not able to do. Once I work with them and we go through everything together or if I do it without them when they come back they’re like a whole different person: they are smiling, they are excited, their energy is a little bit more upbeat—it’s just like from night to day. I always consider them and communicate with them to make sure I get that type of reaction, because that’s my whole purpose. It makes them happy, and it makes me happy.
OH: What is your everyday inspiration, what keeps you going?
AC: I’m a motivated person. Each day I get out of bed, and I guess I maybe a little old school but I make my bed every single day. I start out with a workout and then I always listen to something inspirational to get my mindset in the right direction because there are so many things that come at you in the day and so many things that are going wrong in the world that it’s easy to get distracted or to get off course. I just tell myself I’m in control and know that I want to be the person that provides positive energy to others. So, it starts with me, and that starts with taking care of my health and my surroundings.
Getting organized is a sign of self-respect.Gabrielle Bernstein
OH: You faced several challenges during your first year of being in business: the pandemic and your mom’s health. How would you say things changed for you because of those challenges?
AC: I think it made me more focused. I realized what we all have to lose and that our time here is not promised, so it’s best to make the most of it. This is my opportunity to be the best version of me, so paying attention to my energy, my health, my family, and my relationships is very important. It was a reboot for me, going away from negativity and focusing on what’s truly important.
OH: As an entrepreneur, what are some of the lessons that you learned from your experience?
AC: I learned how to read the room and then bring my positive energy in a calming yet motivating way to help my clients get to the next step.
I learned to also not undervalue myself and what I have to offer. I know what I’ve invested so far, my experience and my time are what I have to offer. I know what I know but I also know not to force anything on anyone if they are not ready. The client needs to be on board in order to get the best results.
OH: What can your clients look forward to in the future?
AC: As I work with more clients, I gain experience. I also keep learning and get more skills to increase the value of my services. Regardless of how much experience you have or how long you’ve been in business, I think we as people need to always be open to learning and growing. I always try to keep that mindset, so every opportunity is to grow and I always listen to my clients and learn more about their needs.
Good order is the foundation of all things.Edmund Burke
OH: Knowing what you know now, would you still choose the same path?
AC: Yes! I absolutely love it! I love every part of it. I love going into someone’s home and helping them resolve an issue, then seeing them empowered to focus on their craft or what’s important to them. I was able to really help some great people, so for that I’m incredibly grateful and thankful. I believe in my clients, I listen to them, and I want the best for them. That’s the only reason I’m in this business. If I can help improve someone’s life, that makes me happy.
Most of us can use help organizing our living space, or even our lives. If you’re in the Knoxville area, you’re in luck: reach out to Andrea for loving guidance and positive energy, so you focus on the more important things in your life.
Website: Event Excellence by Andrea
Phone: (865) 221-7470
Listen to this interview as a podcast.