Former event planner reorganizes homes with Jo Jobs

By Denis Armstrong

Even as a young girl, Jo Nuttall knew she had a knack for cleaning and organizing and putting everything in it's place.

“I remember folding towels with mum when I was 10,” Nuttall recalls. “I didn't like the way she was folding them. Her folds were messy. So I took over the folding. I like things folded and organized neatly, like in a store.”

So, in 2012, when her employer announced layoffs, Nuttall understood it was time for her to reorganize her career.

“I never thought about working for myself until life showed me something else,” she says. “I loved my job at The Sun but I didn't control my career. I was disposable. I knew I didn't want to be disposable in my next career. I wanted more control.”

In order to supplement her post-layoff wages, the gregarious go-getter asked friends if they needed help with projects around their house.

“I like painting, gardening and cleaning, but I have a real passion for organizing and decorating. I don't want to simply clean up a mess. I want to make things look as good as they can.”

Whether it's reorganizing clutter, painting the kitchen, fetching groceries or digging up the garden, it appears that no job is too small for Nuttall. Neither is the public appetite for her services.

Based in Orleans and marketing through Facebook, Jo Jobs is a one-woman operation that cleans, organizes and decorates messy rooms, packs stuff, rakes yards and digs gardens throughout the capital region.

“A lot of people, everyone really, needs help with something,” Nuttall explains. “People have too much stuff. I love the idea of making my bed every morning because it's good for your mental health.

“Cleaning and organizing a house can be a traumatic thing for many people,” she adds. “I go through it very carefully with them because we're often going through cherished memories. Purging is an intimate, bonding experience.”

Nuttall's a member of the Ladies Who Lunch committee with Catherine Landry, which has helped Nuttall spread the word for her services, that are popular with single, working mothers.

Recently, Nuttall was nominated for a Faces Magazine Award for Ottawa's best Home Organizer, mostly because she does a good job at a reasonable price. However, I also suspect she was nominated because of her gentle, non-judgmental manner.

“Life is chaos for so many people,” she explains. “I help make it better. Many husbands have a hard time accepting me in the beginning of the day because I do the work they won't or can't do, but by the end of the day, they love me because they see the value I bring, how clean and organized their house is.”

Not surprisingly, Nuttall's home service business is, despite a volatile environment, doing surprisingly well. Put it this way, she could work seven days a week, but can't, won't. Her parents are in their 90s and in fragile health. Nuttall needs as much free time to look after them as she can find.

By now, it's become apparent that for all her talk about how much she enjoys cleaning and organizing households, it's Nuttall's desire to do good, and help the vulnerable that seems to motivate her business the most.

“I don't want to clean for clean people because they're fussy, and will wipe the top shelf with white gloves,” she says, joking. “I want messy customers. I'll go the extra mile for them.”

There are also times when a job goes beyond merely cleaning and organizing, such as those times when her clients have hoarding issues. Those jobs, of which there are many, are particularly challenging and require something more than just patience and listening. They beg understanding and a little sympathy.

“They're clients who require a little extra tender loving care,” Nuttall says. “After the years we've gone through, everyone needs a good clean and organize their home again because it makes us feel better, less out of control.”




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