My name is Melissa Fortino and I'm a Professional Organizer.
I've been told I have a lot of energy & I always think, "What's the alternative? There's so much I want to do!"
I believe life is for making sure we get the most of out of it so that we can do the things
we truly love & give back to others as much as possible.
Life is a gift so let's make the most of it.
So other than organizing, what is it that I love to do?
I absolutely love to travel. My dream destination is Italy & I hope to go there soon. I've been to England, Norway, Sweden & Denmark but haven't made it further south in Europe just yet. I loved traveling in Mexico & Belize. I've been to Sonoma & Napa 3 times & the Bay Area is another favorite. I even made it to Gilroy, California the Garlic Capital of the nation, to go to the Fortino Winery I had heard about since I was a kid. I can remember seeing a bottle of wine someone brought to my dad at his grocery store & thinking that it seemed magical that our name was on a bottle of wine. I made a promise to myself I'd go there someday. It was just as magical as I expected, check it out if you ever make it to Gilroy, California. Trips to Colorado, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix (where I lived for a summer), Las Vegas, Nashville, Louisville, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park & Disney have all made me feel so lucky to have so many gorgeous places right here in the U.S. I can't wait to visit Maine for the 1st time. Lake Michigan is my happy place & I feel totally at ease when I'm near the Big Lake. Our State Parks amaze me. Traveling around our Mitten state is so fun, from Detroit to Ann Arbor to the lakeshore & Up North this Michigander loves her home state.
Grand Rapids is an amazing city to live in with so much to offer.
I love theatre. My degree is in theatre with an emphasis in performance. In college they chopped off my shoulder length hair to a pixie cut & died it bright orange for my 1st major role. My senior year they bleached my hair Hollywood blonde for my final major role.
Yup, my real hair. I loved it.
For the 1st five years after graduation I worked in the community theatre world gathering as much paid work as I could. I was everything from being an adjunct professor at Grand Valley by the time I was 25, stage manager, house manager, ticket sales, taught acting to wee-ones as little as 4 years old to high school, taught summer camps & workshops, did development work & worked as an actor. There was never a dull moment. I volunteered too as a docent for one of the theatres, served on the play selection comittee & volunteered as an actor. It was an honor to do this work & I still use many of those skills today. There's a lot you learn about people & yourself from auditioning, helping to run a theatre & teaching.
I love to dance. I started dancing around 7 & have taken lessons in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, salsa & flamenco. I really want to learn to tango. I once didn't stop dancing at a wedding reception long enough to eat dessert. It came with me onto the dance floor. My friend that was the bride said I'm dancing in every photo the photographer took of me. When I'm stressed I dance. When I feel goofy I dance.
Dancing is good for the soul.
I love design. Beautiful spaces. Beautiful fashion. Beautiful architecture. I love it all.
I'm trained in Feng Shui & find it fascinating. The art of Feng Shui is so fun to practice & it turns out I was doing it while organizing & didn't even know it. My teacher learned Feng Shui from the monk that brought Feng Shui from the East to America. How cool is that?
I love writing & reading, two things I don't get to do enough of.
Some fun facts about me:
I grew up in a big family with 4 sisters. I'm the middle child. My dad's side of the family is big too & is Italian/Irish/English heritage. He runs our family grocery store to this day & it turns 100 years old in October of 2016. He's a really good butcher. My great grandfather founded the store & he started it out selling bananas from a stand as a teen just in from Italy. My mom's side is smaller & there are lots of memories linked to Houghton Lake & the cottage her grandparents built there in the 1930's that's still in our family. I love family history & stories.
I've become really into health & fitness. I love riding my bike, running, learning about nutrition, yoga, talking about nutrition, helping others with their health & wellness, all of it. I've been fortunate enough to have some really great people enter my life that have been inspirational to me. It is so much easier to stay organized when I feel good. Feeling good is rooted in being strong, eating healthy & practicing mindfulness.
I adopted a senior citizen cat named Millie. She's 10 years old, has blue eyes & a lot of fur.
I've lived in under 900 square feet for the last 10 years. My current place is 850 square feet, my last place was 500 square feet, my place before that was 300 square feet (no kidding!) & before that around 550 square feet.
My current space feels enourmous.
Back to being a Professional Organizer...the thing I really love to do the most.
I've been organizing my entire life.
One dark Michigan winter night in 2012 I decided I needed to make some big changes in all areas of my life.
One of those areas was my career. My life's work.
I wanted to do something I loved, I wanted to help people & I wanted to run my own business.
That night as I drove around reflecting on what I really wanted to do
I realized that the one thing that I kept coming back to was organizing.
I loved organizing & always have.
As a kid I'd do things like find the hammer & nails, frame the pictures I wanted hung & hang them myself. I had items gathered in a tote in my closet that I didn't need to use now but wanted to save for when I moved out & went to college. To me, as the middle child of 5, this seemed like the normal thing to do at a young age but I guess my mom & dad knew differently which, my mom told me after I launched the business. I'd go down the street to play at my neighbor Sarah's house & instead of playing I'd organize her playroom. When I went to Sarah's cousin's house I did the same thing there & I heard her mom & aunt comment on it. I had no idea other kids didn't want to make the playroom look as beautiful as possible while they were there. To me, that was fun.
I'd pass the time at stores while my mom shopped tidying up the shelves & making sure everything was sorted like with like, just like I saw in my family's grocery store.
Every job I held always had a significant amount of organizing involved. From my work in the arts & entertainment industry to the work I did in the corporate world for the 5 years following I was always an organizer. Then, there were simple things like when the Martha Stewart Living magazine arrived in the mail my favorite part was anything that had to do with organizing.
When I really listened to my heart I knew I could help people the most by
bringing to the table what made me different & what gave me the ability to get through tough times.
Everyone around me was talking about not having time to organize & often craved more organization.
I knew I could give that support.
I wanted to be a Professional Organizer.
Was this a real thing?
As it turns out, it is. I found that a whole industry of Professional Organizers existed. I launched the business on August 6th, 2012 & am so glad I took that leap of faith. The summer of 2014 I hired my 1st intern, Joy, that became my 1st employee. In 2015 I launched the Organize your Health branch of the business to help my clients find & make time for their health & wellness goals & started a partnership with Advocare. I became an Advisor level distributor with Advocare after falling in love with the way I felt during the 24 Day Challenge.
I finally had a map I could follow to feel good & be fit.
That year I also became certified in Feng Shui, an ancient method for organizing & decorating.
Why do I do what I do?
I am thankful every day that I get to do this for a living. I don't take the vulnerable space my clients let me into for granted. I know that for me, this is way less about people's stuff & more about the people I work with. I want my clients to be empowered. To know that they can do this so that their organized home will give them more time with their family, to be able to make time for their self-care, exercise, health & nutrition & have more energy overall. So that they have a base practice for making decisions, cutting through clutter & how to get back to that organized starting point. I do this because I love watching my clients transform, feel better about themselves & liking the reflection they see of themselves mirrored through their home. It is extremly rewarding. I do this for that moment when I see the anxiety, worry & chatotic feeling wash away from my client's faces as they see their Big Picture Vision coming to a reality. Coaching people through their organizing projects, listening to their stories, helping them through difficult times & joyful moments, laughing, sometimes crying & always knowing that we're all in this together makes me feel so blessed to do this for a living.
Grateful sums it up nicely.