“It literally took a world pandemic to get me out of my comfort zone and take my business online."

Ahead of the Network Ireland Business woman of the Year Awards, on October 2, EMMA CONNOLLY talks to the Cork finalists, for WoW!
“It literally took a world pandemic to get me out of my comfort zone and take my business online."

Anne-Marie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering, winner of The Business Innovation Award at the Network Ireland West Cork 2020 Businesswoman of the Year Awards. Picture: Dermot Sullivan.

Anne Marie Kingston, White Sage Decluttering Network West Cork, Business Innovation Award

WEST Cork’s answer to Marie Kondo was forced out of her comfort zone when the pandemic hit, and it’s been onwards and upwards for her business since.

Professional declutterer, Anne Marie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering had 95% of the ground work done for her new membership site, White Sage Academy, by last March.

“It was about taking my expertise online using Facebook, with monthly themes for all the areas of your home and weekly pieces of video, training, support, accountability, guest interviews etc with a group of like-minded women,” she said.

The outbreak of Covid-19 left her, and countless others, with an empty diary and existing clients on hold, so she was forced to take the plunge and launched the academy on March 27th.

“It literally took a world pandemic to get me out of my comfort zone and take my business online. People were in full lockdown and it was an ideal time to declutter. I’ve now got a membership of over 60 ladies from all over Ireland and it’s growing each month,” she said.

Anne-Marie had long and successful career in banking before training as a declutterer.

“I spent over 11 years of service with Bank of Ireland… and in 2012, when I was told I was being relocated to the Wilton branch I applied for voluntary redundancy.” 

Married to Clonakilty dairy farmer John, she discovered shortly after she was expecting their first baby (Ryan, now nine) for June 2013, followed 18 months later by Caoimhe (now five).

By 2015, she was between two minds whether she’d reapply to the financial sector.

“I remember Caoimhe was about six months old and had gone down for a nap, and I needed to tackle our walk-in hotpress – my favourite room in the house! As a busy, time poor mom of two small kids, I was exhausted and had been putting it off. But off I went and I cleared the whole space, sorting out kids' clothes, bed linen, and so on. Then suddenly I had a light bulb moment I will never forget - I realised there and then I wasn't returning to the financial world and I was going to become a professional declutterer.

“I headed down to our office and starting googling the profession as well as business names.

The following night when I was trying to settle Caoimhe who had woken up, a 12-month decluttering course popped up on my Facebook feed and part of this course was to set up your own business.

“I firmly believe in signs from the universe, God, whoever you believe in, and that we are to follow our passions. Fast forward 12 months to February 2017, and I had graduated as a professional declutterer. Family and friends thought I was crazy, but I knew deep down there was a market for my service.” And Anne Marie was right, and since launching in March 2017 she’s expanded nationwide, and also to businesses.

“I only work with clients who are ready to let go of their clutter and want the transformation and to claim back their home. Decluttering isn't just the physical clutter that surrounds you each day, it is an emotional journey for many to let go of their past, memories, and more. I see first hand with my work that especially women who I work with are stuck, frustrated and their clutter has taken over their lives and they can not move forward or see a way out.” Anne Marie admits that winning Network Ireland West Cork’s innovation award is still sinking in and was totally unexpected.

“It is truly amazing to get the recognition of these awards because it's not easy being a businesswoman but I wouldn't change it for the world.” And she has so many plans going forward.

“There is so much to do and experience, I am only starting. For 2021 I am hoping to publish my first book and can't wait to get started, as I have all the ideas and content in my head ready to go. Maybe my own decluttering TV series. Why not?! I am now offering virtual VIP decluttering sessions using zoom which again I would have never done previously only for Covid. What this space!” See www.whitesagedecluttering.com

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