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Inspiring Conversations with Aileen Mitchener

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aileen Mitchener.

Hi Aileen, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I have been working in odd jobs since I was 15 years old. I come from a large family and I knew the only way I could go to college and support myself was to work hard. I’ve always had big dreams and ambitions, but I never thought owning my own business was even a tangible possibility. I followed my dreams and studied Musical Theatre in college. I was always told to have a “backup plan” or a steady job (or three) to support myself through artist rough patches. I was living in New York City and I was burning out, working upwards of four jobs at a time with absolutely no work-life balance.

My partner was given an amazing career opportunity which would relocate us to the DMV area, giving us both a fresh start. Using my experience from the countless survival jobs I have been fortunate enough to have, I launched Aligned by Aileen, my professional organizing company, officially during the pandemic. The pandemic really put into focus what my priorities were and are such as having a flexible schedule, being financially independent, and be able to shift my focus to my art and my family as needed (and wanted!) I also realized that I truly have a gift with organizing and it is worth sharing. The emotions I feel at the end of every project, seeing how I’ve touched my clients’ lives really “fills my cup” and ignites a joy I cannot fully describe. Now I feel so fulfilled getting to run my own company, I get to employ others in my community, and I now have the energy, time, and financial means to participate in theatre performances both locally and across the country and be a part of that vibrant community as well.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While I had done small side projects before launching my business fully, nothing quite prepares you for running your own business full-time. It is emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Worth it, but still one of the hardest things I have ever done. There is just so many hats you have to wear especially in the beginning before you have the ability to hire others. It can be a very lonely process as well being a one-woman company. I also did all of the heavy lifting during the height of the pandemic. Money was tight and making connections was very difficult. Trying to self-fund while not turning a profit was very challenging.

I also am relatively new to the area; my partner and I moved here fall of 2019, so we only get a few months in before the pandemic really hit. This has made networking and marketing difficult, but I am so grateful for every opportunity I have to connect with other businesses in my community and the clients who trusted me in my early stages. I’m still learning everyday as my company is in it’s adolescence, but it’s growing at such a rapid rate that I am very hopeful towards the future.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am the owner and lead organizer at ALIGNED by Aileen! I find that many people are not quite certain about what a professional organizer does. A professional organizer is a professional who helps you organize any of the physical and digital spaces in your life — a closet, a kitchen, home office, your cloud files, or even full businesses and storefronts. We will offer support for decision-making, facilitate actions around removal of unwanted belongings, and set up systems, from shelving to labels, that help our clients establish order and clarity. Personally, I like filling my calendar up with a variety of different organizing projects, whereas other organizers may specialize in specific spaces or types of projects.

I think what sets me apart from other professionals is my ability to connect and empathize with my clients. As a woman in business, so often we are told either consciously or subconsciously to be less emotional, to feel less. I think that is a huge disservice. I care so deeply about my clients and my sensitivity is definitely an asset. While my eye for spatial reasoning and attention to detail makes me a great organizer, my ability to relate to my clients and approach my project in a genuine and non-judgmental way is what makes me a great business owner. I obviously want great results, but I also want my clients to feel at ease throughout the process.

What I am most proud of is the diversity of my clientele. It makes me feel so honored and humbled that so many people with such different backgrounds, in different stages of their life, trust me and feel safe enough to allow me into their homes to help them. As a woman-owned and LGBT+ owned business, I am especially proud of giving a positive representation of what small business owners can look like and being a safe space for the marginalized.

What matters most to you? Why?
My tenet as a human and a business owner is to lead with kindness. I have found that if I do that, while not everything will always go the way I hope, I will feel better and leave most situations better than I found them. This year has also put into focus how much I value family and rest. I was a person who used to live in a perpetual state of burnout and really bought into the myth of toxic productivity. As small business owner, it would be so easy to fall into those same patterns, but I have really worked to put up boundaries to establish a good work/life balance.

Pricing:

  • $75/Hour
  • Packages between $225 and $2800
  • FREE consultation

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Headshot by Kelsey Bock. All other images by Aileen Mitchener

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