Decluttering With Ayessa Bautista

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Here’s why streamlining our lives could spark so much joy

Apart from being a mom to five-year-old Alejandro, Ayessa Bautista wears many hats. She’s the blogger and digital content creator behind undiplomaticwife.com and a decorator, professional organizer and moving coach behind the minimalist yet luxurious brand of minimalism called Minimaluxe — phew! Not only that, she’s also the founder and admin of Declutter MNL, a Facebook group for finding new homes for one’s preloved stuff. We speak to Ayessa about what it’s like to be a professional declutter-er and why decluttering could change your life…

What made you decide to start decluttering?

Ayessa and her family. Photography: The Stork Studio

As a diplomat’s wife we move every 2-4 years and each time I need to speed declutter and sell stuff that does not fit our shipping allowance. I learned to sell fast in different platforms and languages. 

When we arrived in Manila after living in Jakarta and Berlin, I had to figure out how to make money while staying at home. I started selling the stuff I decluttered online. Some friends and relatives asked for my help to sell items they no longer needed as well.

This made me realize that my skill in speed decluttering and selling was something that could help other people and started offering my services to expats who were moving overseas and did not have time to sell their stuff on their own.

Estate sales were also something I did for my moving clients. They are always so grateful because it really reduces the moving stress when someone handles all the selling, pickups and delivery for them, while they try to focus on other important things.

At the same time I put up a Facebook Group called DeclutterMNL to teach people the best practices of selling online. The faster they sell, the faster they can also declutter and help with their expenses. 

How’s Declutter MNL going so far? 

The Facebook group has grown to 12,000+ members and continues to grow every day. As admins, we approve each post and membership application to ensure the quality of the items being sold and that transactions are fast and smooth.

As for physical decluttering services, workshops and estate sales, they are currently on hold because of the pandemic. My husband is at high risk because he has had 2 unrelated cancers twice in the past few years, so I’ve been offering virtual consultations and talks instead.

What is your biggest project to date? How did it go? 

My biggest project for decluttering has to be Amanda Griffin Jacob’s post-renovation move-in. We decluttered the whole home + contents of years of storage from top to bottom.

My goal for her was to stop having to pay for storage, store everything properly so that she can enjoy them for years to come without fearing damage from heat and humidity. And most importantly, remove everything that didn’t spark joy while allowing her easy access to enjoy what was left behind. We are so proud of what our team accomplished!

For estate sales my biggest project was someone who had stayed 10 years in a huge house here in Manila and needed to move out in a month! We sold all the furniture and contents of a her two-story home in record time. Our client was so happy because not only was she was able to get a decent amount of money for the stuff that she couldn’t bring but she was also able to go on vacation before leaving because we took care of everything including pick-ups and deliveries.

Photography: Alain Camiling of BPI Sustainability

As for workshops, I’ve done everything from small intimate groups in my home to almost a 100 people for BPI. But I hope that my biggest audience would be the upcoming Mommy Mundo talk that I am giving on An Intentional Life: Tips on Decluttering and Organizing Your Home. Crossing my fingers!

What is the toughest thing about decluttering? 

The toughest thing about decluttering is really our emotional connection to our stuff. So even if I am a professional organizer myself, I would ask my PA to help me apply the Kon Mari Method to my own clutter. This is why I highly recommend hiring a decluttering consultant to anyone struggling with clutter. It helps to have an unbiased guide  through the overwhelming tasks of decluttering one’s own life.

Photography: Kaho of Chuzai Living

Once we realize that decluttering is not about perfection, but about surrounding ourselves with only what brings us joy, it gets easier.

Why do you think it’s important for people to declutter?

In the past people spent more on fashion than their home, but nowadays with instagram and being stuck at home, people are really appreciating the importance of having homes that relax us and having a stress free background for creating memories with our loved ones.

During this lockdown it’s become so clear how important it is to have spaces that nurture us, promote rest and relaxation and make us happy. In the past people settled for spaces that they would avoid by going out or mindlessly shopping and stuffing their homes with things that no longer brought joy.

Photography: Kaho of Chuzai Living

It’s also super important to declutter because of the environment. The more we reduce our clutter and become more conscious of only acquiring things that we truly love and need, the better it is for the environment.

When we store stuff, they end up deteriorating and instead of anyone enjoying their use, they go straight to the landfill. That’s why I always encourage people to mindfully pass on things that they don’t use, because at least it will benefit someone instead of turning into moldy and dusty treats for moths and cockroaches.

Why do you think more people could benefit from decluttering?

During this pandemic, having an uncluttered home can help us not kill each other at home. When you properly declutter, there is a home for each item in our space, and each family member will also feel like they have their own space for work, school, rest and play. 

How has the pandemic hit your business? How are you planning to pivot?

Most definitely! My decluttering practice was picking up and then the pandemic hit! I just could not risk my husband and son. I lost my decluttering income but I’ve taken this time instead to learn how to do digital content creation, workshops and virtual declutter coaching consultations instead.

Photography: Kaho of Chuzai Living

Though times are hard and it’s really hit us financially, I’m taking it as a time to learn and improve my skills. I’m also planning to become an accredited Kon Mari Consultant via her virtual workshop if the schedule permits. I’m also looking for interior design courses that I can do online. I interior design our homes each time we move to provide a haven for my family wherever we are in the world. And though I’ve designed my own furniture and also help my clients decorate as well as declutter, I think getting formal training would be wonderful for my career.

Thanks Ayessa!

Want to create a more intentional and decluttered space for your family? Check out Ayessa’s talk on Mommy Mundo on 29 November, “An Intentional Life: Tips on Decluttering and Organizing Your Home.” She’ll be sharing actionable steps you can take to immediately simplify your family’s life.

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