Leading an ‘incredible’ group of West Cork women into 2023

Clonakilty’s Anne Marie Kingston, of White Sage Decluttering, is the new President of Network West Cork. Here, we catch up with the businesswoman
Leading an ‘incredible’ group of West Cork women into 2023

New Network Ireland West Cork President Anne Marie Kingston. Picture: Anna Groniecka

A FORMER banker turned professional declutterer is taking the helm of Network West Cork this year.

That’s Clonakilty’s Anne Marie Kingston, who said that as soon as she joined the professional group in 2017, she knew she had found her ‘tribe’.

Prior to that, she had been part of a smaller, more intimate networking group that had come to its natural end, but when her mentor suggested transferring to Network West Cork, her initial reaction was one of uncertainty.

“I was used to being in a smaller group and I thought this would be too intimidating for me – even the name of it!” she said.

But the mum-of-three said she couldn’t have been more wrong.

“It was an eye opener, to meet so many beautiful, like-minded women. I came back buzzing from that first meeting, and it’s the same after every event. It has been like finding my tribe since day one,” Anne Marie said.

She’s been vice president for the past year and is now more than ready to step up to lead the group of around 50 – with ambitions to grow that number during her term.

Her tagline or theme for the year ahead is to ‘get people back in the room’.

“Zoom has been fantastic for the obvious reasons, but you cannot beat being in-person, in a room with other like-minded women, that’s where you get the buzz and connections,” she said.

Anne Marie is urging women in the area to come along and see what Network is all about.

“Personally, I have no physical front door with customers coming in. I’m in my home office and when you’re working on your own it can be lonely. So having the support of the group is vital.

“If you’re having a bad day, or are just simply looking for a referral for someone in marketing or an accountant, there’s always someone there to ask. All you have to do is to pick up that phone. It’s invaluable.”

Network’s annual business awards also give local businesswomen great opportunities, she points out, and there’s the added bonus of making friends.

Marie Wiseman of Wiser Marketing handing over the President’s chain to Anne Marie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering. Picture: Anna Groniecka
Marie Wiseman of Wiser Marketing handing over the President’s chain to Anne Marie Kingston of White Sage Decluttering. Picture: Anna Groniecka

“It’s such a welcoming space. You can have a rant … even a cry if that’s what you need! When you’re working for yourself, with the best will in the world, family and friends may not always get what you’re going through.

“You must find like-minded people, who are going through the same thing as you, possibly feeling suffering emotions like imposter syndrome, and that’s what we have here.”

Anne Marie took redundancy from the banking sector before herself and her dairy farmer husband John started their family, and after having her second child she launched her business, White Sage Decluttering. Family and friends thought she was mad, she remembers, and she wasn’t even sure herself it would work out, but she knew she wanted to give it a go.

Next March, she’ll celebrate six years in business, so clearly she’s found a niche, and tapped into a real need.

She works two days a week doing physical decluttering around Munster and also offers online services.

She also has VIP clients further afield, people she works with over a few days to totally transform their house.

We have to ask… is her own home pristine and perfect?

“Not always, but I’d usually just need half an hour to get it in shape!” she laughs.

Anne Marie finds getting up just that bit earlier than the rest of her household a hugely helpful strategy.

“I also say to clients that if something comes in to the house, something else must go out to avoid overwhelm. Think of it like a see-saw that has to be balanced,” she said.

She advises the same approach to toys and clothes.

But she stresses her approach is very different to global sensation Marie Kondo who encourages people to empty entire presses, wardrobes, etc, and work from there.

“Marie Kondo drives me simple! I take things shelf by shelf; rather than bringing everything out. It’s easier to break sessions into 10/15 minute chunks, when your energy is at its highest, usually in the morning and go from there. And unlike Marie, I definitely don’t have time to be folding underwear and socks!”

But, joking aside, Anne Marie does feel that too much clutter can negatively impact concentration, relationships in the home and productivity. “It stresses people out, and it has been linked to anxiety and depression,” she says.

Herself and John are parents to Ryan (9), Caoimhe (7) and Cara (18 months) ,making it a busy household, but Anne Marie says it’s about making the time for what’s important, and that includes Network West Cork.

“I am moving out of my comfort zone, the same as when I set up my business, but I’m ready to embrace the challenge.

“I want to fly the flag as high as I can for Network West Cork as it’s an incredible group of women.”

Joining Anne Marie on the Network West Cork committee this year are:

  • Vice President - Michelle Kingston of AMS (global total workforce solutions)
  • Secretary - Sandra Maybury of Maybury Marketing
  • Treasurer - Mary Cadogan of O’Donnell Furniture Makers
  • Ezine - Anna Groniecka of - Anna Groniecka Photography
  • Events - Adrienne Harrington of CSO & Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs
  • Membership - Katherine O’Sullivan of O’Donnell Furniture
  • Website Officer - Susan Collins Duggan of Theatre Tricks Drama & Communications
  • ·Social Media - Valda Bindng of TakenPlace Weddings

The official handover of the presidency took place recently at the NIWC Christmas event at the Celtic Ross hotel.

Outgoing President for 2022, Marie Wiseman from Wiser Marketing, reflecting on her year, felt members’ comfort levels with face-to-face versus online events was increasing all the time.

“For our first face-to-face event back in April, we had to offer people the opportunity to bring a friend, as we had all become so out of practice at networking, whilst our last face-to-face event in October felt like it could have been pre-Covid,” Wiseman said.

“Anne Marie’s theme of ‘back in the room’ is exactly right for this time. I’m delighted to be handing the Presidency to Anne Marie and wish her the very best of luck for the year ahead.”

For more details on how to join Network Ireland, visit https://networkireland.ie to find the appropriate branch. To join Network Ireland West Cork, visit https://networkireland.ie/west-cork/ or follow on social media @NetIrlWestCork.

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