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My Herts Life: Tracy Smith

PUBLISHED: 17:43 13 October 2014

Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Archant

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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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