In 2014 Jen Robin started organizing for friends and family on the weekends—in addition to her full-time job as an executive assistant for a professional athlete. A year later, she decided to use her skills in the areas of to-do lists, time management and organizational systems to open Life in Jeneral—an organization and lifestyle company that helps clients maintain their everyday lives.
How does your business provide clients a competitive advantage?
“Life in Jeneral has been successful because of the care and attention to detail each team member puts into their work. I find it more important to hire for personality than skill. You can teach someone organizing techniques, but integrity, compassion and kindness cannot be learned in the same way. Without those qualities, our work would be entirely one-dimensional. Because of the intention each team member puts into organizing each client’s home, we’re able to truly transform their lives—creating a holistic change from within and ultimately making it a one-time investment.”
How did you come up with the name of your business?
“I’ve long been a fan of puns, and this one felt meant to be. When I started organizing for family and friends, at the consultation phase I would listen to them explain how their belongings continued to accumulate over time. They’d tell me about how life, in general (get the pun?), often felt too fast-paced, frantic and chaotic to stop and make a lasting change. I realized that the real reason they were seeking help was not because they had too many pots and pans, but because they were ready to make a shift in their lifestyle. I knew that while, yes, I was called in to organize their things, the only way to make a lasting change was to ensure that I was helping them get to the root of the obstacle and then providing a solution for it.”
Tell us about your job as a full-time executive assistant.
“I went to school at Cal State Long Beach on a soccer scholarship, then I started my career as an executive assistant for a professional athlete. In the midst of an already busy life, he moved five times in about as many years. While anyone else in this position might have dreaded it, I saw these moves as opportunities to streamline and continually improve his life—incorporating organizational systems that each ran more smoothly than the last. This experience helped me learn the impact that organization could have on a person’s life, and this is when I realized that what I was doing could transform lives for the better.”
What’s next for Life in Jeneral?
“I’m very happy with the hard work that’s gone into Life in Jeneral. But I’m most excited for what’s to come. We have a sister company, LIJ Spaces, which designs custom cabinetry build-outs for any space in the home—all from the unique viewpoint of professional organizers. We moved into a 5,000-square-foot building that serves as Life in Jeneral’s headquarters, a showroom for LIJ Spaces and a warehouse for a product line in the works. My goal for our office is to make it a place where clients can come and get a hands-on feel for the work we can do—both Life in Jeneral’s organizing and LIJ Spaces’ build-outs.
Also, I have a book coming out at the end of 2021. I am bursting at the seams to get it out into the world! It’s all about the transformative soul work of organizing and how space and mind are interconnected. We’ve also recently launched LIJ Academy, which features online courses teaching aspiring organizers how to start, grow and scale their dream organizing business. I’ve always been a dreamer, and the sky’s the limit for us!”
In what ways do you empower other women to succeed in business?
“Professional organizing is a female-dominated industry, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong and inspiring women on a daily basis. Life in Jeneral was founded on the principle of helping others succeed and live their most joyful life, and that’s something I strive to uphold with every person I meet—clients, employees and fellow organizers alike. I’m a firm believer that we are all stronger when we uplift each other, and that is especially true when it comes to women in the same line of work as me. I’m now at the point where my hard work is being recognized, so if I can use that recognition to empower other women and let them know that they can do the same, I’ll know the hard work has been worth it.”
What puts a spring in your step and keeps you feeling energized?
“The work I do goes far beyond organizing someone’s home. An organized space creates room for what matters most in life: connection, love and purpose. Helping others live wholeheartedly fills me with energy. Helping people feel their best, in turn, makes me feel my best.”
What is the silver lining of the recent pandemic for your business?
“While easily the greatest challenge I’ve faced as a business owner, the pandemic inspired a beautiful, unexpected shift in my vision for Life in Jeneral. At the start of 2020, I had more than 20 full-time team members working on four to six organizing jobs per day. At the time I thought this was the way to go, and that the future of the business was in expanding the organizing team.
When we could no longer go into clients’ homes to organize, we had to re-strategize. I realized that building an online community could further our mission of transforming lives through the power of organization—and on a grander scale. In addition to the in-home organizing we’re doing in Los Angeles, we’re also focusing on empowering organizers around the world to spread the work throughout their communities. We’re still transforming lives, just in another way.”
Photographed by Valorie Darling