Welcome to the weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Shelina Jokhiya, founder of DeCluttr Me and author of “Can you Find it in Five Seconds?” As the first podcast show in the Middle East focusing on decluttering and organizing your life, Jokhiya brings practical advice on how to achieve a clutter-free space and set up systems tailored to each individual’s needs.
sat down with the brand’s founder to learn about her career path and how she’s converted her passion into a full-time business.
What was your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject was English literature and Chemistry.
What was your first job?
In my late teens, I worked at Mcdonald’s making the burgers and putting the dressings on them – I was an expert. When I realised that I wanted to study law, I also worked as an intern at the county court chambers, and various law firms to learn more about the profession.
What brought you to Dubai?
I had been working as a solicitor in London and then I got a job as a lawyer at Emirates in 2005. I had visited Dubai 3 years before with my family so I knew a little bit about it.
What inspired you to enter the organizational space?
I have always been organised since I was a child. I used to organise my Madonna collection, music, DVDs, anything and everything. I dreamt about being an organiser when working in London in the early 2000s but I didn’t think anyone would pay for this service. After so many years of being a lawyer, I was fed up with my life and started to research online about being an organizer. That’s when I realised that it was a thriving industry and no one else was doing it in the Middle East so I thought I would start.
How did you come to launch your own company?
I created the website and social media accounts for DeCluttr Me in March 2013 whilst still working and then blogged for a few months to build content. I saved money at the same time and finally quit in September 2013 from my job to start this full-time. DeCluttr Me became the region’s first licensed, professional organising service.
What are the key elements of your role?
Mostly decluttering and organizing clients’ homes, especially closets and kitchens. But I also help clients when they are moving into new homes with unpacking and organizing. I help a lot of clients who are dealing with mental health issues, grief, divorce or abuse which has manifested into physical clutter so it is not just about organizing and labelling items into nice boxes.
Talk us through your daily routine
I try not to look at my phone in the morning except to play Wordle, breakfast is cereal and a coffee and then if I’m working with a client it is getting my work bag ready and heading to their place. Usually I work an 8-hour session with clients so I am exhausted by the time I finish and get home. I try to cook in advance so that I can warm up the food, eat, catch up on admin and watch some tv and then sleep. If I have a day off I love hiding in the cinema watching movies. I love switching off my phone and my mind, and just concentrating on whatever I am watching. I am also currently trying to see as much of the UAE as possible so will book to go to a tourist attraction in one of the emirates on my day off.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Think about how you can help your clients. It is not just about organising into nice boxes like you see on TV and social media, there are other elements to consider when being a professional organizer including the temperaments of the clients and the clutter they have. If you get overwhelmed seeing clutter then this is not the job for you.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you are a solopreneur like me, have a board of friends and advisers to talk to about your business and to give you non-biased advice. I have five people I can contact at any time to discuss my business issues and achievements and to get their sage advice.
And what is the worst? –
I get so much unsolicited advice from people that I tend to block them out now.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Getting people to understand what decluttering is and how it can be beneficial for you mentally and physically. Now it has become a cool thing to do but it took many years to get to this point.
What are the future plans for your brand?
I recently published my first book “Can you find it in five seconds?” which is available in hard copy and e-book on Amazon. I have also expanded DeCluttr Me to offer a wardrobe shopping service. It involves a visit from our stylist, who will assess the current contents of your wardrobe, evaluate what works for you, determine what should be kept, and how items can be mixed, matched and accessorised to create new looks. The idea is to help you to achieve a more sustainable, compact, capsule wardrobe that suits your style, from items you already have, without spending on new clothes. Next, I plan on creating another book, publishing worldwide and also getting a tv show about how decluttering and organizing has benefited my clients in the region.