Organise. Curate. Design.

Caroline Guillemain-Brunne • Melbourne

A natural organiser with experience in event management, Caroline saw the potential for a business that would help busy professionals get on top of their lives, and Organise.Curate.Design was born.

In early 2017, Caroline Guillemain-Brunne was working as a senior manager in a first aid services business when she attended a Small Business Festival event that changed her career trajectory.

“The speaker talked about women, their financial literacy and the fact that many had not made enough provision for their future, for example with things like superannuation,” she says.

“It dawned on me that my own will and superannuation weren’t organised. These important but not urgent things had slipped by the wayside. I realised then and there that having a Life Assistant would solve this issue and be amazing.”

By July that year, still working full-time, Caroline started Organise.Curate.Design (or OCD).

To get the foundations right, Caroline started polling her network, asking people questions to get to the heart of why people felt out of control and ended up letting those important but not urgent things, among others, slip away. This is what she discovered…

At times of crisis, overwhelm and stress, it is often not the surface issue that causes crisis, but the underlying structure and habits that contribute.”

“For example, it might be a deadline at work that has been moved forward that sets you off, but often it is not this job stress that causes the issue. It’s all the background responsibilities collectively piling up. We identify these factors and assist with organisation, setting goals, mental de-cluttering, outsourcing and time-management to help our clients win back their time.”

Caroline decided that OCD should be an all-around personal assistant service. Want someone to pay your car rego? Done. Research your holiday? Booked. This frees clients up to concentrate on their work presentation or spend time with their kids.

Caroline knew from the outset that OCD’s target market were time-poor professional parents of school age kids. To reach these potential customers she employed some smart marketing tactics; vouchers and word-of-mouth. Vouchers were given away as auction items at local schools and charities. From there, testimonials and references came pouring in. Now OCD has paying clients right across Australia.

Caroline has found one of their biggest business challenges is educating clients about what OCD does.

“Our service is still so new and niche, and when you bring something new to the market, it is very difficult to help people understand it.”

“It can take a consultation before someone understands what we do. Extending that understanding to reach a broader audience is a challenge. But networking, attending business events, and engaging in other opportunities assist with awareness of our services.”

OCD offers Life Assistant services in three ways.

“Customers can book a one-off session – ideal for a trial, or someone in a transition phase i.e. moving house or new baby on the way. We also offer packages. Finally, we offer retainer services where we work with a client on a weekly basis. We also sell some super quirky merchandise, like earbud winders and hair-tie bracelets.”

Little touches like selling products position OCD as the organisation specialists, while making life easier for their clients.

In March, Caroline hired her first staff member.

“As the role is so unique, we used a HR agency that assisted me in understanding how to best place the ad and legal requirements for the role.”

Caroline’s hiring process was rigorous. The job ad asked for some very specific information in the cover letter to make sure the candidates had the right attention to detail needed in the role. Next, profile tests helped identify other skills a Life Assistant needs. Finally, there were a series of phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and reference checks to ensure they hired ‘the one’.

OCD Life Assistants are unique because they empower their clients and offer a completely confidential service.

“We approach every situation from a place of kindness, with no judgement. Coming from this place has really allowed us to create a trustful, open and comfortable relationship. No matter what tasks need to be done, we will make it work and give it 100%.”

“After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a Life Assistant?”

We asked Caroline for three business tips, and here’s what she said:

  1. Surround yourself with people who ‘get it’ and who challenge you. That might not be your family or friends, it could be other small business networks, clients who will stick with you and suppliers who will always deliver.
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of your clients being your biggest advocates. Look after them, check in with them and take the time to understand why they use you, what they want you to continue doing and what areas you can improve in.
  3. Investigate free or low cost ways you can develop your business skills. You might get swept up in a management course that costs thousands of dollars, when you can do something just as helpful for a whole lot less.

Check out Small Business Victoria Workshops to get your business venture up and running.