My Herts Life: Tracy Smith
PUBLISHED: 17:43 13 October 2014
People call Tracy Smith a lot of names. Tracy-will-sort-it, Tracy-gets-it-done, Tracy-the-catalyst. Patsy Hudson chats to the Hatfield down-sizing, de-cluttering and decorating guru about helping people deal with life’s stuff
What do you actually do? I help. Some clients want help down-sizing or de-cluttering their homes and don’t know where or how to start. Others want help organising a home-office. Many recent retirees have no idea which papers to file or which to chuck, having had secretaries to do that for them all their working life.
Why do you do it? I enjoy doing things others don’t want to, or don’t know how to, do. And I like it when people say ‘ask Tracy’– whatever it is they want done. It goes back to secretarial college training in South Africa.
With hindsight, I realise I was trained in project management and being organised. Everyone did say secretarial training ‘will stand you in good stead’.
How did your lifestyle-laundering business begin? With the archetypal ‘nutty professor’ needing me to organise his home office and later a home move. Then another de-clutter and yet another reorganisation. He is now a semi-retired consultant with rock-star parking at a London hospital and gives lectures around the globe. He nearly missed his annual registration deadlines because he didn’t diarise those do-by dates!
Where does the decorating come in? That was a retiree who wanted his flat done up for letting while he was travelling abroad. I had to break it to him gently that among what he thought was ‘detritus’ he’d inherited and hoarded, was an Royal Academy artist’s oil-painting. He parted with his dad’s payslips (dating back to 1947) quite easily after that! Well, I kept one payslip – for sentiment’s sake. Sentimentality and that war mentality about keeping stuff because ‘it may come in useful one day’ is why most down-sizers need help today. Not everyone wants to inherit others’ worldly goods – but charity shops do.
When are you busiest? When people are having guests, like family staying over Christmas, and they have to make space for them. I don’t class myself as a decorating expert. I’ve been in advertising, wildlife management, stock exchange trading, conference event management and hotel house keeping, but I have a marvellous team of contractors I call on. So sometimes Tracy-gets-it-done by delegation. Whenever I’ve wanted to do something myself, like decorate my sister’s 40th birthday cake, I take a course in the subject. Or work out how to do it. I mean, how difficult can it be?
Why Tracy-the-catalyst? Occasionally, the outcome of the exercise is not what the original aim was. At the other end of the scale from world travellers’ big budgets, was a client who was feeling claustrophobic in her flat and said she needed help with the nitty-gritties of a move to gain space. After we chatted about her lifestyle, she realised she just needed to take up a too-busy floral carpet, throw rugs over lovely wooden floors, move some furniture around - and some out. That sorted her ‘unable-to-breathe-in-here’ problem. So I became Tracy-the-humidifier!